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Performance test engineer

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Software testing has several stages spanning multiple types of testing. Teams need to design test suites and implement testing methodologies for each type of testing. Hence software testing teams need individuals who have different skills to perform different tasks. Performance testing is done to check that the software application is performing as expected under varying user loads. To become a performance test engineer one must read through this complete guide and understand its roles and responsibilities.

Performance testing is a type of non-functional software testing wherein we measure the stability, speed, responsiveness and scalability of a software tool under a given workload. Performance testing is a complex type of testing and requires test engineers to possess specific technical skills to perform their tasks successfully. Performance testing is usually done by a team of skilled individuals with extensive experience in performance testing. 

Different types of performance testing

Common types of performance testing include load testing, Stress testing, spike testing and scalability testing.

Load testing –is the simplest form of performance testing which is done to record how the software behaves under the expected workload. Load test helps in determining the general system behaviour, latency and throughput of the software.

Stress testing – This is a form of load test where the load is increased gradually higher than the load the system is supposed to handle and observe the breakpoint. This test helps in identifying the maximum traffic the software can handle and the breakpoint.

Scalability testing – is used to determine how the system will scale by adding resources. This helps in capacity planning and cost estimation.

Spike testing – is done to check if the system can handle a sudden surge in traffic. Spike test helps identify if the software will be able to handle the sudden increase in traffic. This helps to plan a sudden surge in traffic is expected due to some promotion event or sale.

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Why performance testing is important?

Performance testing helps answer a few critical questions as below:

Can the software handle the high surge in traffic?

Can the software work in limited internet access?

How many users can the site successfully handle before it starts to slow down?

The maximum number of users who can use the software concurrently.

The answer to all the above questions is provided by performance testing. Hence performance testing is of prime importance along with other types of testing for high-end commercial websites/software. This leads to the setup of performance teams in organisations.

Who is a Performance Test Engineer?

A performance test engineer is the most critical resource in any performance team.

A typical performance team consists of 4 to 5 performance test engineers who report to the Lead test engineer. The Lead engineer in turn reports to the project manager. Performance testers need to have an understanding of complex systems. Performance test engineers need to understand shared resources, CPU memory, web components, storage and distributed networks. They also need to have a clear understanding of test and production environments such as cloud, containers, configuration, and virtualization management. Their primary task is to execute performance test cases. They are responsible for designing, maintaining and supporting performance testing systems and strategies, ensuring that the application doesn’t misbehave or break under changing user load and that no bugs or errors reach the end-users.

Roles and Responsibilities of Performance Test Engineer

Below is a list of day-to-day tasks done by a performance test engineer.

  • Analyse business scenarios
  • Understand non-functional requirements
  • Evaluate the objectives of the service level agreement
  • Develop and design performance test scripts
  • Identify parameters for testing
  • Establish Checkpoints
  • Execute performance tests
  • Identify metrics for monitoring performance test
  • Enhancing the scripts by creating/implementing
    • Parameterization
    • Checkpoints
    • Transactions
    • Reusable functions
    • Correlations
    • Actions/Blocks
    • Iterations
    • Pacing
    • Think Time
  • Test case execution
  • Test case monitoring
  • Analysing the test results
  • Preparing the test report
  • Develop Jmeter scripts to test web services and applications performance under specific loads
  • Document and track defects, using JIRA.
  • Use Jmeter, blaze meter, Dynatrace and other available tools to find out where the performance issue is.
  • Create response curves involving client transactions-per-second and average response times used to determine optimal server CPU levels.
  • Create the test data required for the load, stress, and endurance before executing the tests.
  • Identify the bottlenecks for high CPU usage while processing a high volume of payload.
  • Analyze the performance of the android phone in terms of CPU/GPU performance by running the performance-related benchmark in multiple modes.
  • Gain a working knowledge of Jmeter tools and create documents on the same, which are further used to train other employees.
  • Use Wiley to detect memory leaks in the Java code using garbage collection statistics and thus suggesting further performance improvements.
  • Participate in application technical design process, involve in QA environment setup and application build process.
  • Conduct meetings with the business or development team to identify the scope
  • Thorough understanding of business and the infrastructure
  • Preparing the performance test strategy
  • Plan and design test cases
  • Identify performance metrics
  • Analysing the tool capabilities
  • Securing the performance test environment
  • Communicating with business/development team manager regularly
  • Coordinating with other performance testers and monitoring their progress
  • Reviewing the test scripts
  • Reviewing the workload model
  • Reviewing the test execution results
  • Reviewing the final test results
  • Conducting defect triage meetings
  • Sharing the performance test report with the development and business team
  • Securing the approvals from the architects

Skills Required to be a Performance Test Engineer

  • Learn development skills: A good performance engineer should have good knowledge and understanding of web development technologies like HTML5, CSS, JavaScript etc. Experience with java will help in triaging issues related to Garbage collection, CPU utilisation, Memory leaks and code refactoring and DB query will help with performance tuning of database queries.
  • Familiar with the latest performance tools and trends: A wide variety of tools are available in the market to choose from for performance testing. LoadRunner, Jmeter, NEO Load, RPT are a few popular tools used for performance testing. Each tool has its unique feature and capabilities. Experience in using these tools like a pro will be of advantage for performance testers.
  • Understanding system architecture: having sound knowledge of the system architecture will help in identifying performance bottlenecks.
  • Designing effective test scripts: Performance test engineers should have the ability to create and design effective test cases which help measure the scalability, capacity, speed and responsiveness of the software.
  • Scripting: knowledge of coding in Java, C, bean shell, JavaScript will be an added advantage. Different tools are available for performance testing support scripting in different languages.
  • Interpreting performance test results: Performance Test engineers must effectively read the results generated by the performance test and interpret the graphs correctly. They must be able to infer the graph and identify where the blockage is caused and why.
  • Communication: A performance engineer must have the ability to clearly explain the performance test results to stakeholders. They should have the ability to clearly explain what was done as part of the performance test and the issues identified.

A Day in the Life of a Performance Test Engineer

Listed below are a few tasks undertaken by performance engineers on a day-to-day basis:

  • Participation in Performance testing requirements/discussion
  • Create Performance test strategies/ Test plans
  • Create Test Scenarios
  • Create Performance Test scripts and validation
  • Execute performance tests 
  • Ensure generation of required workload
  • Monitor and capture various performance statistics
  • Collect and report defects
  • Analyse and review performance test scripts & execution results
  • Prepare Performance Test Report
  • Create and report performance test progress and defects
  • Maintains performance script repository

Performance Test Engineer Salary Trends in India/US

Based upon skills and experience the average annual salary of a performance engineer ranges from 6 lakhs to 18 lakhs in India. In the US, the average pay for a performance test engineer is $105,798, with top earners earning up to $130,500 annually. The range can vary depending upon matching skill requirement, experience, current organisation and compensation.

How to become a performance engineer?

The role of a performance engineer requires good technical skills, a few of which are listed below:

  • Learn to code using java, JavaScript.
  • Learn HTML5, CSS JavaScript for client-side performance testing
  • SQL for performance tuning of database
  • Learn the latest performance tools and trends.
  • Learn to create and design effective test cases suiting the performance test requirement.
  • Learn to interpret test cases results and identify bottlenecks.
  • Learn the concept of load balancers while doing performance testing of load balancers.

Conclusion

The performance of a site is a very important aspect of the end-user experience. A considerable surge in traffic can affect any website. In today’s fast-paced software world, if a commercial site is down for even half an hour, it might cause millions of losses. We cannot imagine a life without sites like YouTube, Google or IRCTC, considering the high volume of users these sites have each minute. To avoid such situations, it is imperative that performance testing is done as many times to smoothen the performance experience of the website.

0 Source: GreatLearning Blog

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