Stress Testing: The Fundamentals

Software Stress Testing Basics
After all functional testing and verification are complete, no software is complete until it verifies to be durable enough in real world environments through thorough stress testing. Of course, those development shops that use a full agile process often incorporate regular stress testing from the first few builds. This takes any surprise in the delivery phase out of the picture. Doing effective Stress Testing involves sometimes crazy loads that may sometimes break the computer Operating Systems as well as finding the exact loading conditions that break your software.

Once the limits are found through Stress Testing, any deficiency that is deemed too possible or too catastrophic must be corrected in the source code. The failures may be found to localize mostly in the backend modules or they may be exposed in the front-end user interface or through live websites. The failures purposefully created in the process of Stress Testing help you prepare your products and services for the unexpected problems that will crop up in real-world usage. Ideally, daily builds should be overnight stress tested in a scalable test lab.

When the software is in its initial Beta Release phase, all the real-world problems discovered should be added to the stress suite of tests. In this way, any imagined or discovered problem area in your software is verified to always remain fixed, with every build of the software. Often a bug fix will cause a regression in a particular stress test scenario, requiring the software engineer to revise his or her bug fix code.

A secondary set of metrics about your software, that gets exposed in stress testing, is the particular performance speed and throughput possible. Any major bottlenecks in your software’s process can be identified and corrected, when possible. The goal is at least have final release software that fails gracefully and with useful error reporting. A regular and rigorous test regime can make or break any software product or service.

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