The only way software engineers can ensure that a particular piece of new software is ready for real world users is after completing thorough load testing. A software program in a computer system may operate perfectly and perform every feature, as designed, when it is run on a development system by itself. In the real world systems environment of many different programs running on the same system at the same time, that same new piece of software might crash and burn horribly. There are just some types of synergistic issues that can only be detected by stress testing it with an emulation of a real world environment.

The whole arena of load testing has become an important end-step in the Agile software development process. It has always been a part of developing software, it was just not called out and scheduled appropriately in the maverick programming days before Agile. The result back then was development cost overruns and revenue losses because of severely delayed, recalled, and broken software releases. The computer industry learned from these early mistakes, leading to better prediction and control of each step in software development through ideas like the agile process. When the potential failure of new software is designed into the process of creating it, there is an established tried and true way to make sure software performs as billed for the end users.

It’s important to understand that load testing not only helps people understand how web servers perform under load, but also the general speed of web servers. For example, if you’re looking for the quickest web hosting companies out there, it’s possible that running a load test on some different hosting servers with each company can help you understand which company is the fastest under load. This is important because there’s a big difference between how fast web servers perform under load compared to the time when they are not under load.

Today’s sophisticated load and stress testing processes are well defined and supported by several test software frameworks to automate the process for potential release software candidates. This reduces the possibility of “gotchas” in a customer’s real world operations. There is a slight difference between testing with loading vs stressing. The first type does not mean to push operations beyond normal, the second is for determining where the absolute limit of proper operation is in a very over-stressed operating environment. Making your software products and services as reliable as possible, especially in heavily loaded server environments has become absolutely essential for final user acceptance.