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Is Your Company Doing Performance Engineering or Performance Testing?

As performance engineering gains traction in software development, it's important for companies— even smaller ones—to pay attention to the differences between performance engineering and performance testing. With even small-scale e-commerce standing to lose 7% in annual sales for just 1 second page delays, organizations need to take steps towards implementing a performance plan that yields results.

We've covered why your company should be implementing performance engineering before, but when it comes time to start implementing a performance plan, you may find yourself wondering what the difference between performance testing and performance engineering is. You may come across an array of definitions for performance as you go over your research. In fact, meanings can vary from organization to organization, but it's important to keep in mind that there is no standard approach to performance.

As an offshore software development company with over 15 years of experience in software outsourcing, PSL has considerable experience in performance engineering. This allows us to help you navigate the nuances of performance—both engineering and testing and all the other components—and ensure your application functions properly under any condition.

Understanding Performance Engineering and Performance Testing 

The difference between performance testing and performance engineering may not be evident at first since both overlap. Put simply, you may say that performance testing falls under performance engineering as some of the practices employed to ensure high systems performance. Performance engineering takes it a step further by developing and executing a series of strategies to ensure an application is built for performance from the very beginning. Even so, drawing a definitive line can be difficult.

To better understand whether your organization is doing performance testing or performance engineering, consider the following descriptions:

Performance Testing 

Performance testing is a set of practices in which a team simulates realistic end-user load and access patterns in controlled environments to determine a system's scalability, speed, and stability. Often, performance test results are weighted depending on a set of metrics that allow engineers to identify and remedy potential bottlenecks.

Metrics associated with performance testing include:

  • Transaction response time
  • Concurrent user loads supported
  • Server Throughput
  • Browser performance
  • Code performance
  • Server resource utilization

Performance Engineering 

Performance engineering is a discipline that includes practices, techniques, and activities throughout the software development lifecycle to help systems meet performance requirements. Unlike performance testing that looks to test a system, performance engineering focuses on design, architecture, and implementation to build systems that meet standards for high performance.

Because performance engineering is involved in so much of the software development lifecycle, performance engineers often act at the onset of a project. However, they can also intervene once a project is underway.

  • Proactively, performance engineers help the team build a system with performance standards and employ techniques to validate performance at each stage of development.
  • Reactively, a performance engineer might step in when a system isn't scalable, go over performance testing metrics and investigate in depth to find what layer or layers don't meet with the Service Level Agreement. When they find a bottleneck, they might bring in a specialist to help resolve the issue.

A Few Key Differences

As we've established, performance engineering is a much larger field that blankets performance testing, but often the lines blur when it comes to analyzing performance testing results. While both performance engineers and performance testers are tasked with analyzing the results of different performance tests, the type of role they have in the software development process is different.

Supporting Systems' Performance vs. Designing Systems for Better Performance

Ideally, both performance testing and performance engineering should accompany a software development process from the get-go. However, the depth to which a performance tester and a performance engineer are involved will vary largely.

Performance testers are in charge of planning and designing performance tests, creating and running the tests, and finally analyzing results to finetune. Performance engineers will actively participate in the design process for the development lifecycle, keeping high-level objectives in mind, and inspecting deployment. 

Functionality Concerns vs. Business Concerns

The main purpose of performance testing is identifying issues or bugs in performance when an application is under specific, real-time conditions. Its main concern is making sure the system can sustain various conditions, and it informs analysis that helps engineers ensure system performance.

Performance engineers, however, go further by helping build a system with levels of speed, scalability, and responsiveness to meet performance requirements that satisfy industry standards, and continually scale to generate a competitive advantage.

A Performance Practice vs. A Performance Culture

Performance engineering, unlike performance testing, requires a team understands their job as more than just running test scripts and analyzing metrics. Performance testing entails certain processes and steps to determine faults, but performance engineering observes the entire system to identify where and how different pieces can be optimized.

Start Testing Performance Right Now

Regardless of whether you're doing performance testing or performance engineering, your organization should be taking steps to ensure your application meets performance standards. By executing tests you'll be able to visualize where you are, what a scalability model looks like for you, how your performance tool works, and what your results may be. Once you have an idea of where you're at, you can elevate your level of understanding to a much more helpful space.

It's important to remember that when starting out in a new field, it's likely your team will learn by making mistakes. However, because performance errors can have such devastating consequences, it's not a bad idea to get help from a more experienced partner. As an offshore software development company, PSL has had the chance to work with a myriad of clients with performance needs. We've executed best practices to ensure systems run efficiently and optimally. Our performance engineering expertise allows clients to build stable and fast applications that surpass their users' expectations.


About PSL
PSL, a nearshore software development organization, operates at the intersection of drive, quality, and innovation. As a purpose-led organization, we strive to become your software engineering partner.

Ready to build high-performing applications? Call PSL.

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Tuesday, 21 May 2019

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