In the world of software engineering, software testing carries great significance. It is one such stage of Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC)
that ensures accurate functionality, effectiveness, performance, etc of the software product and helps validate the quality of the end product. To determine all these features and qualities of the software, there are several types of software testing techniques, which are used by software engineers rigorously. Benchmark testing is one such type of software testing, which too plays an important role in determining some of the major qualities of the software.
To understand the significance of benchmark testing in SDLC, let us indulge into a detailed discussion on the same.
Defining Benchmark Testing:
Benchmark, as defined by Merriam-Webster dictionary means, “something that serves as a standard by which others may be measured or judged”. To put it simply, it is a metric or a point of reference against which products or services can be compared, which further assess the quality of the said product or service. Similarly, benchmark testing is the process of load testing a component or an entire end to end IT system to determine the performance characteristics of the application. It is mainly used to compare the performance of the software or hardware, which is also known as software under test (SUT). Additionally, benchmark testing can combine the aspects of security testing.
A part of the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC), benchmark testing involves both developers and database administrators (DBAs) to determine current performance of a software and makes changes to improve the performance of the same.
Characteristics of Benchmark Testing:
The aforementioned points signify the importance of benchmark testing in Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC). It is one form of software testing technique that helps team of adept and dexterous testers in various innumerable ways. Benchmarking is helpful in understanding how the database manager responds under varying conditions. With the assistance of benchmark testing one can create scenarios that test deadlock handling, utility performance, different methods of coding data, transaction rate characteristics as more users are added and even the effect on the application of using new release of the product. Moreover, benchmark testing is the company wide standard for the performance testing metrics, which every software application that belongs to such an organization should pass. The other characteristics of this type of software testing are as follows:
- Test are repeatable.
- It is the company wide standard for the performance testing metrics, which every software application- that belongs to such an organization -should pass.
- The process of benchmark testing involves several teams–developers, database administrators and a group of quality assurance (QA) testers.
- Determines the current performance of the application and make changes to improve its functionality as well as performance.
- Each iteration of a test starts in the same system state.
- No other function or application are active in the system unless the scenario includes some amount of other activity going on in the system.
- The hardware and software used for benchmarking match the production environment.
Purpose of Benchmark Testing:
The goals and objectives of this type of testing are numerous, some of which are mentioned below:
- To test the system to measure how a change affects its performance characteristics.
- To test and tune the system to reach performance requirement or service level agreement (SLA). In this case, a series of benchmark tests are conducted on conjunction with iterative cycles of performance testing.
- It ensures that the application meets the minimum specification in terms of response time, number of concurrent users, and any other performance requirements as specified in the service level agreement (SLA) that are mandated.
- It retests the application after upgrades and changes are made.
- To determine the breaking point of the application the load and demands are increased, until it breaks. This allows the developers to see how the application fails.
Areas That Require Benchmark Testing:
Benchmark testing is not a term related to just software testing, but it also deals with hardware testing and is considered as one of the most important tasks in the business world. Its requirement and popularity in the software industry is increasing day by day, as it provides numerous advantages to its users. Moreover, it is a type of testing that can easily be performed using the same software and hardware that will run in the production network. The requirement of this type of testing is not limited to one section of the software industry and it can be performed to fulfil various services. Therefore, the services for which this testing can be done are:
- Browser Compatibility.
- Broken Links.
- HTML Compliance.
- Load Time.
- Link Popularity.
Phases of Benchmark Testing:
There are four major phases of benchmark testing, each of which plays a crucial role throughout the testing process. Through these phases, a software tester, can easily plan and organise the process of testing, as well as ensure that the end result is accurate and compatible to the one expected by the client. The phases of benchmark testing are immensely helpful to the tester and assists them in identifying the issues, requirements and the standards of the software. These phases of benchmark testing are:
- Planning Phase:In the planning phase of benchmark testing, the standards and requirements are identified and prioritised. Further the benchmark criteria is decided and the benchmark test process is defined.
- Analysis Phase:
In this stage of benchmark testing, the root cause of the error is identified to improve the quality of the software application. Moreover, goals are set for the test process.
- Integration Phase:
The third stage of benchmark testing is the integration stage. Here, the outcomes are shared with the concerned person to get approval. Also, functional goals are also defined established by the team here.
- Action Phase: This is the final phase of benchmark testing, where the test plan and documentation is developed and the actions specified in previous phases are implemented. Moreover the progress is also monitored here, while the process runs continuously.
Components of Benchmark Testing:
TPerformed using the same software and hardware that runs in the production network, benchmark testing helps testers and developers in identifying any snags or errors that may occur after the product is released. The hallmark of this type of testing is the repeatability of the test suites. Therefore, to help you get a better understanding of this type of testing, here are the components of benchmark testing:
- Workload Specifications: Determine the type and frequency of request that is to be submitted to the system under test (SUT).
- Specifications of Metrics: It determines which elements will be measured. For example: download speed, or more.
- Specifications of Measurements: Discern how to measure the specified elements to appropriate values.
Prerequisites of Benchmark Testing:
Before initiating the process of benchmark testing, it is vital for software testers to ensure that all the necessary conditions and requirements are fulfilled and the software is ready for benchmark testing. This allows them to take all the crucial precautions as well as enables them to perform the process of testing smoothly. Therefore, to assist testers in cross-checking all the prerequisites of benchmark testing, provided here is the list for the same.
- Make sure all the software components are in the accurate working condition.
- Consistency and control are important measures to perform benchmark testing.
- There should be a clear understanding of the system architecture to design test criteria and test data.
- Testers ought to ensure that the initial static data is examined and updated according to the number of users.
- Check for operating systems updates and real world configurations.
- Each time the tests should be executed under the same environmental condition.
- The elements of the system should be split according to its functionalities.
- Every system has different architecture and design, which needs to be taken into consideration while performing benchmark testing.
- The software and hardware components should be in line with the specification of the production environment.
Advantages of Benchmark Testing:
As stated above, benchmark testing offers numerous benefits to developers and testers, as well as the users. With the assistance of this testing technique, the team of testers can effortlessly ensure the quality, performance, efficiency of the end product. Other advantages of benchmark testing are:
Helps measure how a change or modification affects the performance characteristics of a software product.
- Ensures that the initial static data is examined and updated according to the number of users.
- Validates that the software components are in an accurate working condition.
- It helps build an application whose characteristics are well understood and that can stand up to the rigors of the real world users.
- With its assistance software developers are able to launch a software or application with confidence, as they are sure that their users will be satisfied with the performance as well as the effectiveness of the released product.
As stated before, benchmark testing is an integral part of Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC), which is mainly used to compare the performance of software or hardware system. It is a type of software testing that gives repeatable set of quantifiable results from which present as well as the future software releases for specific functionality can be baselined or compared. In short, benchmark testing is the one stop solution for software developers and testers who want to develop a quality product that offers remarkable services.