WebLoad Tests Enterprise-Size Web Performance

A problem faced by many developers of Web-based applications is the difficulty of simulating the real-time, high-stress Internet environments of many enterprise IT organizations. With the introduction of version 3.0 of WebLoad, RadView Software Inc. (www.radview.com) hopes to provide developers with the tools they need to adequately assess Web application performance and scalability.

"A determining factor in the success or failure of Web applications is how well they behave under stress," explains Mike Gotta, a program director in workgroup strategies with the Meta Group (www.metagroup.com), a consulting firm. "Unfortunately, too often developers and Webmasters are uncertain how well the system will perform in production."

RadView’s WebLoad purports to provide developers and Webmasters with Web application scalability information through a comprehensive battery of diagnostic tools that attempt to stress-test a Web application in the areas of performance and robustness. WebLoad generates a load composed of virtual clients -- simulated browsers, clients or HTTP requests -- that emulate real-world traffic and stresses. WebLoad executes a number of predefined test scripts that can be created by developers or administrators using a JavaScript-based language. WebLoad monitors the performance response of the Web application as it executes these test scripts.

"WebLoad simulates hundreds and hundreds of users, and does it in a very efficient way by simulating numerous browsers driving our Web sites," explains Tim Holck, lead performance engineer at Smart Technologies Inc. (www.smartdna.com), a developer of scalable Web application solutions for enterprise environments. "We’ve used WebLoad to assess the performance of our Web applications because it can measure response times and throughput, so much so that we’ve been able to find and fix problems in our own software."

WebLoad control is facilitated by the WebLoad Central Console, an administrative console that provides a single resource for configuring, monitoring and managing distributed WebLoad sessions.

Although testing the scalability of Web applications is one of its major selling points, WebLoad 3.0 is not without analytical or evaluative functions. WebLoad 3.0 now has a battery of graphical performance reports that can provide statistical analyses that help to illustrate the results of WebLoad tests.

According to Gary Hartley, an applications developer at a leading cosmetics firm, WebLoad 3.0’s analytical functionality is one of the software’s primary value-adds. "WebLoad has helped us improve performance and identify areas on our site where performance is an issue," Hartley indicates. "For example, it’s now helping us to be able to do some scalability testing and estimating on some equipment necessary to support our sales force."

WebLoad has provisions for more granular reporting control. Administrators can define specialized metrics or timers for single clients. In addition, administrators or developers can generate detailed status and load reports for all test participants, and view test reports both in real-time and at the conclusion of a WebLoad session.

Smart Technologies’ Holck indicates that WebLoad is also an excellent tool for diagnosing server-side performance or scalability problems. "We use WebLoad in a variety of ways, and it’s not a functional test tool per se, because we use it as a driver for scalability studies for finding problems at the server that have to do with concurrency, scaling to a large number of users, timing reliability and so forth," Holck says. "I really haven’t found any other tool that gives us the same kind of control and flexibility to drive our Web site."

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