In terms of size and breadth, performance engineering is widening and deepening.
New performance engineering methodologies offer more responsive systems in less time, with less risk and effect. However, five experts who recently examined the state of performance engineering at a roundtable believe there are several critical challenges to be mindful of.
Richard Bishop, lead quality engineer at Lloyds Banking Group; Paul McLean, a performance consultant at RPM Solutions; Wilson Mar, a performance architect at McKinsey; Ryan Foulk, president and founder of Foulk Consulting; and Scott Moore, senior performance engineering consultant at Scott Moore Consulting made up the panel, which was sponsored by Micro Focus.
Here are the important trends and challenges that these industry experts believe will have an impact on the game—and what your team should know about them.
Massive scalability changes things
Auto-scaling appears to be a fantastic feature; a cluster may simply add servers when demand exceeds a certain threshold. According to RPM Solutions’ McLean, this affects the nature of performance engineering work.
The question itself evolves as well. “Will the servers be able to process 500 transactions per second?” “How do the servers manage a doubling of workload?” becomes “How do the servers handle a doubling of workload?” he stated
According to Lloyds Banking Group’s Bishop, new servers go through a “spin-up” stage. It might take up to 15 minutes from the time a trip-wire informs that the cluster needs a new webserver to the time that the server is really available. That slowdown in performance, or even overload, might be evident to the client as a result of the delay.
Human specialists, for that matter, must define the limits for auto-scaling. At what point does the cluster’s capacity need to be increased in terms of CPU, memory, disc space, or bandwidth? Because cloud computing costs are usually calculated by the hour, if those restrictions are set too low, the organization will end up renting capacity it doesn’t require.
When the indicators are set too high, the latency and overload issues that Bishop outlined occur. Companies should also keep an eye out for potential scale-backs, according to McLean. That example, as traffic increases, the number of servers should decrease. If it doesn’t, the company will be paying for the highest number of servers it has ever required in the cloud all of the time, undermining the point of auto-scaling.
Globalization will rebalance the equation
The expansion of a worldwide workforce and computers that can reach further away owing to technological improvements, both of which will redefine performance engineering as a profession, according to McKinsey’s Mar.
Because of the global epidemic, several businesses have enabled their staff to work from home, or from anyplace with Internet access and power. Enough employees took advantage of the situation that returning to work is becoming difficult. As a result, many businesses are shifting to remote-first recruiting, which means that more individuals will be able to access corporate computer resources from a distance.
Today, Mar views performance testing as mostly taking place within the data center. However, with new satellite and other forms of communications services, it will be feasible to replicate full end-to-end loads from anywhere, transfer workloads out of the business with fog computing, expand the Internet of Things, and view more streaming content throughout the world.
People will utilize more bandwidth as bandwidth grows, according to Jevon’s Law. As a result, programmers will design more complicated programs (since downloading a large website with a lot of APIs is suddenly less of a hassle), and users will choose for more bandwidth-intensive activities.
Performance testers, according to Mar, must be ready for these adjustments. To anticipate these demands, Foulk Consulting’s Foulk stated that people should examine and establish better nonfunctional requirements.
As a result of all of this, performance engineering shifts from a reactive to a proactive position. While predictive analytics solutions are beginning to develop, Bishop of Lloyds Banking Group believes that too frequently corporations just toss the software over the wall and hope for the best.
Furthermore, all of the panelists agreed that software delivery is speeding up, and that performance has the potential to get caught in a tight improvement-feedback cycle. The continuous integration pipeline is one method to get there.
Add performance to the CI/CD pipeline
The panelists agreed that integrating performance testing in your continuous integration/continuous delivery pipeline might be beneficial. Debugging and correcting problems is a lot easier when you know how things are going right after a change is made.
According to Scott Moore Consulting’s Moore, the rate of technology adoption is growing across the board. Virtualization, for example, took a decade to become widespread, whereas container adoption took half that time.
Extrapolating, people are now exploring AI and machine learning in performance engineering and integrating performance testing into the CI/CD process. Those technologies are likely to become commonplace sooner rather than later.
While containers may be late to the game in terms of creation, Moore believes they have yet to catch on in terms of testing, particularly performance testing. All of the panelists agreed that getting performance testing into the pipeline, in building environments, scaling up data, ramping up demand, and providing meaningful analysis inside a tight CI/CD cycle are all issues.
Moore hypothesized that a test environment based on containers, or Kubernetes, would be simpler to set up and maintain. Getting a test run and significant findings in five or ten years might be the main problem.
Learn what you need to, now
“Every customer keeps saying ‘CI/CD,’ but it’s really because they want to go quicker,” Moore explained. We’re getting close, he said, to be able to quickly spin up the environment required, prepare the tests and scenarios, start everything up, spit out the findings, have an algorithm interpret the data, and explain what to do next.
“This is something that the best corporations are doing right now. This is the moment to learn how to do it if you haven’t already “Moore went on to say.
However, according to RPM Solutions’ McLean, this may be more difficult than it appears, especially for organizations with limited resources. A significant change involves obtaining a large volume of data, a large enough test system, all the data preparation set up, and all the tests conducted, ramped up, and taken down—all in a matter of minutes.
This is especially true when contrasted to many firms’ current multi-day setup and test cycles.
Still, getting the correct tests to run in a reasonable amount of time may be the next hurdle. That can be intimidating, and some individuals choose to “punt” with short examinations because they are afraid of facing reality.
Create a safe environment
All the data in the world won’t help until someone grabs it, points to it, and explains what it means and why the organization should act on it.
Mar of McKinsey cited recent research by his firm that found that psychological safety, not agile, DevOps, CI, or CD, is the most important driver of organizational success. Only in groups where individuals feel comfortable to call out faults or failures and provide solutions do fresh ideas have a chance to flourish.
One innovative method, according to Mar, is to put performance testing to work on the team itself, rather than as a duty completed by an external group as a checklist item. As a result, it’s more than simply testing when it comes to performance engineering. This allows the metrics to be something that the team cares about and wants to improve, rather than something like an external report card.
In performance engineering, there are two competing forces at work. The systems are growing more sophisticated, necessitating more complicated tools to drive and evaluate performance issues—yet the human element remains the most important factor in determining success or failure.
Another trend is the importance of feedback throughout the development process—not just for informing about the performance of a certain release, but also for understanding what consumers are doing in order to inform what to build next. Finally, there is a gap between current practice and what is potentially conceivable.
It’s evident that firms will need to use performance engineering to improve the consumer experience.
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