Load testing in VS .NET

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Load testing
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Probably the best example of testing in the cloud is load testing. Load testing is the act of simulating hundreds, thousands, or even millions of users hitting your site. By doing this, you can find out if your website can handle the expected load that you may get on Cyber Monday or after airing a Super Bowl commercial. The cloud is great for load testing because whereas all QA tasks tend to be spiky in nature, nothing is spikier than load testing. You may go weeks without running a load test; and then, as you get close to a release, you may suddenly need dozens or hundreds of machines to generate enough load to meet your testing goals.
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TRADITIONAL LOAD TESTING
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The common approach to load testing prior to the cloud involved running commercial or open-source software on your own hardware. Performance testers used tools such as Apache JMeter and Mercury LoadRunner to create a test script that issued HTTP requests similar to the traffic a real user caused by browsing the site. But when it comes time to run a load test, testers need to find enough hardware to generate the required load. Because load testing doesn t happen all the time, it s hard for businesses to justify the purchase of dedicated hardware for this task. As a general rule of thumb, a single web server can handle approximately 250 concurrent users, whereas a single midsized server can generate approximately 1,000 concurrent users for load. That means you need one load generator for every four web servers.
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Because this physical hardware is difficult to procure, testers tend to try to push more simulated users on each load generator. The risk of doing this is that if you overload the load generator, your results can be skewed or incorrect because the observer (the load generator) suffers from its own performance problems.
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THE ECONOMICS OF CLOUD-BASED LOAD TESTING
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Because hardware is often a scarce resource, testers try to make the most out of what they can get access to, increasing the number of simulated users on each load generator. But in the cloud, virtual machines are a commodity. That s why load testing in the cloud is such an appealing concept. Several companies have recently rolled out new load-testing services specifically built for the cloud. Some, such as LoadStorm (http://loadstorm.com), focus on the cost savings of cloud-based operations and pass those savings on to the end user. Others, such as SOASTA CloudTest( http://soasta.com), use the massive scale of the cloud to generate tests for some of the largest websites, such as Intuit s TurboTax website and MySpace. If you have a large website and want to test what happens when 50,000 visitors hit it at the same time, you have to find 50 load generators. Getting hold of 50 physical servers can be extremely difficult and costly in many organizations, but you can do so in the cloud for less than $5 per hour. Because it s so cost effective to generate load from the cloud, you don t have to be nearly as aggressive in trying to maximize your load generators. See table 7.3 for hourly prices of various load-generation configurations.
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Table 7.3 Various cloud load-testing configurations, ranging from aggressive to conservative Aggressive Concurrent users Users/generator Generators required Hourly cost 1,000 1,000 1 < $0.10 Moderate 1,000 250 4 < $0.40 Conservative 1,000 50 20 < $2.00
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As you can see, even when you re extremely conservative and generate only 50 concurrent users per generator, the cost is trivial. You may want to consider a moderate or conservative configuration because if you re too aggressive and get bad test results, then at a minimum you ll waste the time of your testers and developers as they analyze and try to make sense of fundamentally flawed data. Or worse, you may miscalculate your server capacity, putting yourself at risk of an unexpected crash. When viewed from that perspective, an extra $2 per hour is a no-brainer.
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