SOASTA http://www.soasta.com Cloud Testing for Performance Intelligence Thu, 05 Mar 2015 00:19:48 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Astronomy Lesson: Mercury is no Longer a Planet! http://www.soasta.com/soastas-technical-blog/astronomy-lesson-mercury-no-longer-planet/ http://www.soasta.com/soastas-technical-blog/astronomy-lesson-mercury-no-longer-planet/#comments Fri, 27 Feb 2015 18:24:22 +0000 http://www.soasta.com/?p=471203 Read more »]]> So earlier in the week I posted a blog that discussed how the fear of testing in production originated and that the origin of this fear really came from performance testing products of that time period, chiefly, LoadRunner.

Many readers (who are also still LoadRunner users, apparently) messaged me privately on social media with several questions and, in some cases, challenges.

So, I thought, what a better way to follow-up the first blog than to address some of these questions and challenges in a follow-up blog.

And don’t worry, I will not reveal anyone’s identity, or that some of them admit that this is the only technology from that time period (read: 1989) that they still cling to, and will defend, though apparently not publically.

So, lesson #1: Mercury is no longer a planet. Mercury was bought by HP in 2007. So, this product is no longer Mercury LoadRunner. Let’s at least get the name right.

No More Planet Mercury Post Image

Now, on to the questions/challenges:

Question: What programming language does SOASTA CloudTest use? LoadRunner uses C, which is a very stable language.

Answer: Well, yes, “C” is very stable. It has been around since the 1970’s. I used to like using FORTRAN, but you won’t see me using that in 2015. SOASTA CloudTest uses visual scripting. Point-and-click/record. No need to set-up an entire software lifecycle around scripting like one of my readers has done. To this I say: Let’s have a script-off. Fastest one to test wins! SOASTA CloudTest will be testing while you’re still going through your static code analysis peer review process (Seriously? You really have to do code reviews?).

Question: With LoadRunner, I can pull test data into a single dashboard, does CloudTest support being able to pull different types of data into a single dashboard?

Answer: Yes, and we’ll even go one better. CloudTest offers a single integrated view dashboard, but CloudTest does not limit you to just one dashboard. When executing a test, different dashboards can be displayed with various types of data based on the role that the person watching the test desires to see (e.g., maybe a performance engineer wants to drill down into specific page metrics, so he/she would want to view the waterfall dashboard that LoadRunner does not have, or a developer wants to see specific application metrics). 

Question: How does CloudTest’s ability to generate load from the cloud differ from LoadRunner?  

Answer: Cloudtest can generate load from over 17 different cloud providers located in over 57 countries around the world. LoadRunner is limited in this area with the ability via Stormrunner to generate load from a limited set of Amazon cloud locations that certainly to not number the breadth and depth of SOASTA’s cloud grid capacity.

Question: There are times when I am running a test and I see that I would like to increase transactions to simulate more traffic because the current performance is greater than we expected because of the change that we are testing appears to have helped fix a previous bottleneck. How easy is it to re-start the test?

Answer: Why re-start the test? With CloudTest you would have the ability to ramp up or ramp down load in real-time, during a test. This feature, Dynamic Ramp, shown in the photo below, allows you to increase or decrease load by location and overall with the use simple dials on our globe dashboard.

And before I get a question or comment like, “Well, LoadRunner has a globe dashboard”….. I’ll quote Crocodile Dundee, who might have said, “That’s not a globe. This is a globe!”

No More Planet Mercury Image - 2

Question: Not really a question, but I see the value of running a test in production, but my company has a policy that we do not allow testing in production. How has SOASTA been able to convince other companies the value of testing in production, and how did SOASTA help them make that transition?

Answer: SOASTA has run over 10 million tests since CloudTest was announced and launched in 2008. The vast majority of these tests have been executed in production environments. The biggest reason why we were able to do this fearlessly is because CloudTest provides real-time analytics on all aspects of the environment under test so if the test is about to “tip it over,” CloudTest provides the ability to proactively view how the environment is behaving, and, if it is about to “tip over,” you can simply pause, or stop, the performance test. SOASTA is able to do this for our customers with the “Best Practices” for testing in production that we’ve learned with performing over 10 million tests. We’ll teach you to do the same thing.

I could go on and on, but this is a blog, not an e-book.

Welcome to 2015. Let SOASTA bring you there with us.

Want to know more about testing with SOASTA CloudTest? Let us show you how we do it.

Performance IS everything. SOASTA.

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It’s Never too Early to Get Ready for the Holidays With CloudTest & mPulse http://www.soasta.com/soastas-technical-blog/never-early-get-ready-holidays-cloudtest-mpulse/ http://www.soasta.com/soastas-technical-blog/never-early-get-ready-holidays-cloudtest-mpulse/#comments Thu, 26 Feb 2015 19:23:23 +0000 http://www.soasta.com/?p=471194 Read more »]]> It's never too early to get ready for the holidays with CloudTest & mPulse blog image - 1

Now that you’ve made it through another holiday season and breathed a sigh of relief and hopefully, have a silent pager, it’s time to start thinking about the 2015 seasonal events that your business will face this year.

SOASTA would like you to think about these armed with a lot more information, and a different approach than in previous years.

Wouldn’t you sleep better at night knowing that you were able to utilize real user data from your web and mobile assets to determine what the best approach for your performance test activities would be? What if this same real user data enabled you to see deep into the performance of your web and mobile assets to enable you and your team to pro-actively address any performance bottlenecks or other issues that might not have popped up until your organization was right smack in the middle of the holiday season?

Sound intriguing? Meet SOASTA. Meet our world. SOASTA mPulse collects real user data that enables our customers to analyze how their users are using their web and mobile assets and then turn that information into actionable data to use to develop and execute performance tests that reflect how your customers are using your assets. No more guess work. No more white-boarding in a crowded conference room throwing darts at the right “scripts” and business processes to put together that should make up this year’s performance test suite.

We’ll help you answer questions like:

  • What is considered Good Test Data?
  • When is your peak second/minute/hour/day?
  • What is your peak volume? (active sessions, unique users, page visits, orders, …)
  • What is the median session length?
  • What is the distribution of user paths?
  • What is the distribution of devices?
  • What is the distribution of locations?
  • Search Terms
  • Product Distribution
  • Browse Distribution
  • Cart Size
  • Order Size

SOASTA let’s your users determine your true performance goals. We help organizations tie business metrics together (conversion rates, length of engagement, etc) to calculate costs of performance vs revenue gain. SOASTA uses data analytics to review site performance data to isolate bottlenecks, which can guide your performance investments.

Still intrigued? You should be. And here’s what SOASTA is offering so you can see for yourself what SOASTA can do for your organization, in your environment.

SOASTA would like you to see what this looks like in your environment. Using SOASTA’s CloudTest and SOASTA’s mPulse, SOASTA will conduct a free Test Assessment and a free Speed Assessment using our award-winning products.

Whether your organization is already a SOASTA customer, or checking us out for the first time, it’s never too early to start planning for your 2015 events, whatever they may be—Holiday readiness, Back-to-School, Memorial Day, Vacation planning, tax time, etc.

During these assessments, you’ll get to see how performance impacts your business while shining a bright spotlight on your front-end performance.

It's never too early to get ready for the holidays with CloudTest & mPulse blog image - 2

 

CloudTest’s real-time view allows you to see virtual user data being generated in a test against the production environment, while also allowing a view into real users, complete with where they are coming from, what they are doing, and what their user experience is.

Real data. In real-time. Really.

Performance IS everything. SOASTA.

 

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You Can’t Get There From Here, and Other Myths About Testing in Production http://www.soasta.com/soastas-technical-blog/cant-get-myths-testing-production/ http://www.soasta.com/soastas-technical-blog/cant-get-myths-testing-production/#comments Wed, 25 Feb 2015 01:44:17 +0000 http://www.soasta.com/?p=471182 Read more »]]> I grew up in New England. And back before Google Maps and GPS were available, if you needed directions, you stopped and asked the locals at the full-service gas station. Normally, they’d get you on your way, but there were those times where they’d look you up and down and you’d hear, “… well, son, you can’t get there from here.”

OK, well, then how DO I get there?

You Can't Get There From Here Blog Pic 1

For years, testing has been considered a second class citizen when it comes to the pecking order of importance in any endeavor. Whether the endeavor is e-Commerce related, or any other application, testing has been synonymous with other commodities. The words, “I am a tester,” might typically get a response along the lines of sympathy card from Hallmark. Oh, sorry to hear that. Keep plugging away you’ll make that leap up the hierarchy at some point.

With today’s complexity found in all areas of software, not just e-Commerce, but cloud, and just about anywhere that has software that in some way acts as the front end to some activity initiated by a user, testing has become a complex role that encompasses more than just an assembly line mentality of checking the box and moving onto the next item rolling down the assembly line.

That’s right. Today’s testing is not your father’s 1989 Oldsmobile. There is an “e” in testing. But it’s not the one that you are thinking of-nope. Today’s “e” is found in multiple areas that that today’s testing encompasses. Today’s “e” is Performance Engineering. Today’s “e” is User Experience. Today’s “e” is Data Science.

But first let’s have a little history lesson. Let’s start in 1989. You know, 1989. The debut of The Simpsons. The Honda Accord is the top selling car. The first Lexus is marketed by Toyota. The first GPS satellite is launched, and 23 more would follow over the years. And, Vice President Dan Quayle sends out 30,000 Christmas cards with the word “beacon” spelled “beakon.” But more on beacons later (little did Quayle know how big beacons would be in 2015!).

In 1989 a small start-up named Mercury launched a product called LoadRunner. It was designed to be a performance testing tool for client/server applications. Over the next 10 years, it becomes the best selling performance testing tool in the market, with over a 75% market share. This coincides with the boom of the client/server architecture that rises up to threaten the stalwart mainframe market. Businesses shift to a dependence on client/server as the main core of their business functions. Testing these business functions becomes critical to the business. Testing them with LoadRunner becomes the norm. All is right with the world (heck, even I spent time at Mercury).

Then, in 1995, Al Gore invents the internet (at least the commercial aspect, anyway).

Unfortunately there is one major feature lacking in LoadRunner: Real-time analytics to analyze what is happening in an environment that is undergoing testing by LoadRunner. This leads to words spoken by every IT Operations/production team since LoadRunner was first introduced in 1989: “We do not test in production.” Of course you wouldn’t. You wouldn’t want to drive a car without dashboards and metrics like speed (faster, faster!!), temperature, fuel levels, etc., so why would you even entertain the idea of doing the same thing on your companies business backbone? You wouldn’t. Exactly.

So, fast forward to 2008. A company named SOASTA enters the market with a product named CloudTest. A product with an analytics engine that enables the real-time view of the testing being conducted against the target environment. An analytics engine and real-time data view capability that enables complete visibility into the target environment under test. Only one problem. LoadRunner has created a fear factor barrier for the testing community that resonates in most IT Operations teams and production environments everywhere:

“We don’t test in production.” Fool me once, shame on you… Fool me twice…. Ah, no. But wait. Not so fast, my friend.

Gradually since 2008, companies, over 500 of them, have dipped their toes in the water and found that with SOASTA it is a competitive advantage to test in production. Many of those same companies still will not allow LoadRunner into production—if they still use them at all. Why? It’s easy: the real-time analytics. The ability to “see” in production during a test.

Oh, so to compete HP LoadRunner now has spawned StormRunner. As Crocodile Dundee might have said, “That’s not a globe. This is a globe!”

You Can't Get There From Here Blog Pic 2

CloudTest’s real-time view allows you to see virtual user data being generated in a test against the production environment, while also allowing a view into real users, complete with where they are coming from, what they are doing, and what their user experience is. Real data. In real-time. In production.

So what are all those dots on the globe you ask? Those are beacons (not “beakons,” Vice President Quayle). Real-user beacons. Real people. Real customers using your web/mobile site/application—in production. It’s real user measurement. In real-time. Really.

Oh, and what are the sliding dials? In CloudTest, you have the capability to increase and decrease the virtual user load dynamically during a live test. From each location. Or all locations. Stormrunner? Ah, no. Sorry! Can’t do that.

Welcome to 2015. Let SOASTA bring you there with us. Leave 1989 and LoadRunner in your rearview mirror where they belong.

Want to know more about testing in production with SOASTA CloudTest? Let us show you how we do it, or read about how we do it.

Download our White Paper on Testing in Production.

LoadRunner in production? Seriously? Ah, no. Stormrunner? No, thank you. I’ve had enough snowstorms this winter, I certainly don’t need the havoc of a storm in my production environment caused by LoadRunner. Fool me once…..

As the local New Englander’s would say at the full service gas station when you stopped looking for directions, “You can’t get there from here”….. Even with today’s 24 GPS satellites, Google Maps and smart phones.

CloudTest on the other hand. Well….

Performance IS Everything. SOASTA.

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How Dillard’s Used the Cloud to Put Customer Satisfaction First http://www.soasta.com/soastas-trends-blog/how-dillards-used-the-cloud-to-boost-customer-satisfaction/ http://www.soasta.com/soastas-trends-blog/how-dillards-used-the-cloud-to-boost-customer-satisfaction/#comments Tue, 24 Feb 2015 17:18:41 +0000 https://www.soasta.com/soastas-trends-blog/how-dillards-used-the-cloud-to-boost-customer-satisfaction/ Like many companies with a robust online presence, Dillard’s executives knew the importance of ensuring that regardless of traffic levels their website experienced, that all customer activities would be fully supported. The ability to prevent website crashes and provide a favorable online retail experience for end users is a main priority throughout the retail industry, and Dillard’s leveraged SOASTA’s cloud testing solutions to deliver industry-leading website performance.

Dillard​’s: Testing challenges
Dillard’s currently has more than 280 stores and 16 clearance centers across 29 states. Despite being one of the largest retail outlets in the U.S., Dillard’s is proud to be a family-operated businesses that has been serving its customers since the first location opened in 1938 in Nashville, Arkansas.

“Dillard’s leveraged SOASTA’s cloud testing solutions to deliver industry-leading website performance.”

Now, the company has a large online presence in addition to its brick-and-mortar locations, with dillards.com being launched in 1999. The website was primarily created to be used for wedding registry, but now includes the business’s full product catalog as well as a mobile-friendly website version and application. Since the company first introduced its online services, the website has seen double-digit, year-over-year growth.

When Dillard’s first called upon SOASTA for cloud testing, the company had undergone a major software migration and rewrite, as well as including new products and features on its website in 2011. The company also discovered issues with the LoadRunner scripts it was using, which were not realistic enough and did not adequately reflect peak traffic levels. As a result, database queries were inefficient and were unable to properly illustrate customer behavior.

Before utilizing SOASTA services, the Dillard’s had no external environment in which to test, making it impossible for it to perform load testing in any capacity. As a result, the company was forced to test in production, which, as Nancy Jordan, Dillard’s IT Middleware and Integration Manager pointed out, made the team very concerned.

Due to inaccurate metrics, the company was also unsure as to how much traffic to test for. Jordan noted that Dillard’s had experienced an outage during peak traffic periods the year before connecting with SOASTA, and the company could only guess as to how much real-time user traffic the website needed to be capable of supporting.

Types of tests and results
In order to address these issues and ensure proper support for the website, the Dillard’s team leveraged the SOASTA cloud testing solution to run several different tests. These included break tests to pinpoint traffic bottlenecks that caused the site to crash, special behavior tests to see how the platform would react when users carried out different activities and endurance tests where testers ran the website at a set number of transactions for a long period of time to see how the platform performed.

Jordan noted that Dillard’s saw a number of results from these tests, particularly the initial load test. This trial revealed several useful recommendations that the company put into place to improve website performance, including caching capabilities, adjustments to application code and WAS/HTTP configuration.

Benefits of using SOASTA

“Dillard’s partnership with SOASTA enabled them to efficiently run tests and enhance website performance.”

Thanks to Dillard’s partnership with SOASTA, the company saw numerous benefits that enabled them to more quickly and efficiently run tests and enhance their website performance. The SOASTA team was able to write the necessary load testing scripts – which mirrored actual users’ behavior – faster than the Dillard’s team ever thought possible, speeding up the entire testing process.

In addition, testing with SOASTA allowed Dillard’s to identify and address major website issues that would have drastically impacted performance. Overall, Jordan noted that the company saved millions and prevented an untold number of customer issues through performance and load testing.

“We have a better understanding of what our site can handle,” Jordan said. “It was much nicer to be able to say, ‘This is how many users we had hit the site this year during our peak day, and this is what we’ll be able to extrapolate it for. It was one of the very best investments to our website last year.”

To find out more about Dillard’s success story with SOASTA, check out this webinar.

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Presidents’ Day Sales Rival Cyber Monday: Preparing for the Online Shopping Rush http://www.soasta.com/soastas-trends-blog/presidents-day-sales-rival-cyber-monday-preparing-for-the-online-shopping-rush/ http://www.soasta.com/soastas-trends-blog/presidents-day-sales-rival-cyber-monday-preparing-for-the-online-shopping-rush/#comments Mon, 16 Feb 2015 00:21:52 +0000 http://www.soasta.com/soastas-trends-blog/presidents-day-sales-rival-cyber-monday-preparing-for-the-online-shopping-rush/ The beginning of a new year often brings a sigh of relief for retailers. The end-of-the-year holiday rush can put a lot of pressure on companies, especially when it comes to ensuring that they are ready for the influx of users who will leverage their online platforms to make purchases. With December well behind us, many brands may not consider that they must also be prepared for the traffic they'll attract with their Presidents' Day deals.

In fact, Presidents' Day discounts have become so popular that some rival the sales offered on Cyber Monday – one of the most hyped shopping days of the entire year. When providing deals like these, businesses must be sure that they have extensively tested their resources to guarantee that the proper support is in place for the rising traffic levels they'll likely experience.

Presidents' Day: The new Cyber Monday?

"Presidents' Day discounts have become so popular that some rival the sales offered on Cyber Monday."

Forbes recently reported on findings from a 2014 Shop It To Me survey, which found that Presidents' Day has become the leading holiday of the year to make purchases. The personal shopping company discovered through discounts on full-price merchandise, free shipping and sale-on-sale codes, shoppers can get an average of 47 percent off of items on the holiday.

When compared with other top shopping days, Presidents' Day discounts came out on top. The survey found that on average, Black Friday shoppers see 44 percent off online sales, Columbus Day brought 45 percent discounts and Labor Day customers typically got 45 percent off their purchases.

An older Shop It To Me survey from 2011 revealed that that year, Presidents' Day beat out Cyber Monday sales, offering 42.1 percent off in February in comparison with December's 41.1 percent discounts. While a 1 percent difference may not seem like a lot, it could be just the thing to encourage shoppers to put off major purchases until after the holidays.

Oftentimes, Presidents' Day deals aren't just beneficial for customers, but simply make sense for retailers as well.

"The buzz around Presidents' Day markdowns makes sense," noted MintLife contributor Morgan Quinn. "Presidents' Day is hot off the heels of Valentine's Day, one of the top gift-giving days of the year, and just before spring merchandise arrives in stores. Retailers are looking to unload leftover holiday and winter merchandise before the season ends."

Preparing for the Presidents' Day rush

"Presidents' Day preparations are just as critical as those the company makes before the December holiday season. "

As with Cyber Monday, retailers need to put just as much effort into preparing their websites for the boosted traffic that comes with Presidents' Day. Because the vast majority of brands are leveraging the holiday to clear warehouse space for spring inventory, it's critical that their online portals can support the increased activity. Especially around the holidays, customers have more than a few choices at their fingertips, and if one site doesn't perform up to their expectations, chances are good that they can find the same item for a similar price from a competitor.

In this spirit, Presidents' Day preparations are just as critical as those the company makes before the December holiday season. With SOASTA's range of load and performance testing solutions in place, businesses can be sure that their online platforms are supported and can offer the best user experience possible.

Industry-leading solutions like SOASTA's CloudTest enable organizations to effectively test their websites and ensure that rising traffic levels won't result in poor performance. By pinpointing any specific instances where issues could occur, businesses are able to bolster their resources and prevent increased customer demands from slowing them down. To find out more, contact SOASTA today.

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Hallmark: A Valentine’s Day Success Story http://www.soasta.com/soastas-trends-blog/hallmark-a-valentines-day-success-story/ http://www.soasta.com/soastas-trends-blog/hallmark-a-valentines-day-success-story/#comments Sat, 14 Feb 2015 13:26:31 +0000 http://www.soasta.com/soastas-trends-blog/hallmark-a-valentines-day-success-story/ During this time of year, many users are in the market for Valentine's Day gifts, cards and other items to make their holiday special. Recent research shows that mobile devices including smartphones and tablets now play an integral role in Valentine's Day planning. Thanks to SOASTA, greeting card and holiday retailer Hallmark is ready for the influx of online and mobile traffic that accompanies this holiday.

Holiday mobile activities: Hallmark e-cards 
Where in the past, many customers would visit brick-and-mortar locations to pick out a card and keepsakes for loved ones, online capabilities have changed the way people shop for Valentine's Day. While physical greeting cards are still immensely popular, a rising number of consumers have been turning to Hallmark's website to send e-cards. In fact, millions of Americans look to send Valentine's Day e-cards each year, and this year will be no exception.

"Hallmark has helped as many as 5 million consumers celebrate Valentine's Day with e-cards within a 24-hour period."

According to SOASTA's 2015 Valentine's Day Survey conducted by Harris Poll, more than half of Americans – 52 percent – noted that their mobile devices will be an essential part of their plans for the holiday. This includes utilizing their smartphones and tablets to visit social media sites, make dinner reservations and shop for gifts. No doubt, many users will also leverage their mobile endpoints to send an e-card from the leading online Valentine's Day card retailer, Hallmark.

5 million customers in 24 hours: Meeting customer demands 
In past years, Hallmark has helped as many as 5 million consumers celebrate Valentine's Day with e-cards within a 24-hour period.

"Sending a Valentine's Day card on any day other than the 14th just doesn't work, so we all send a card within a 24 hour period," SOASTA CEO Tom Lounibos noted. "[This] makes it a very demanding day on vendors' websites."

Because such an influx of traffic over such a short period can cause website performance problems or even an outage, Hallmark had to ensure that it was prepared to handle the higher volume of customer demand. After all, with competitor websites just a few clicks away, even a few seconds of delay could cause users to look for e-cards and gifts elsewhere.

How Hallmark ensured continuous performance: SOASTA CloudTest
Thankfully, Hallmark was able to ensure the continuous performance of its website with help from SOASTA. The greeting card giant leveraged the SOASTA CloudTest platform as part of its Valentine's Day preparations. This solution enabled Hallmark to create virtual traffic levels that would mirror what its website would experience on Feb. 14. Using that virtual activity as a guide, Hallmark can then pinpoint and mitigate any performance issues in specific locations that might hamper a successful and enjoyable customer experience.

"Thanks to SOASTA, Hallmark is ready for the influx of online and mobile traffic that accompanies this holiday."

"If we notice that the load coming from the Des Moines data center is having a problem, we can drill into the analytics to see what's going on with the databases right at that millisecond," Lounibos told Urgent Communications. "It could be a load balancer that's configured wrong or a switch setting that needs to be toggled a different way. Or, if it's a mobile environment, what kind of phones were they using? By being able to drill into the information, they're able to isolate potential problems."

During this process, Hallmark runs a range of tests, each of which includes different metrics for the number of users so that the company can be sure its platform is ready for the rush in demand. The CloudTest platform enabled Hallmark to see how its website would perform with more than 50,000 simultaneous users, 800,000 users and finally more than 5 million users within a single day.

"Testing any other way would have made it impossible to reach these types of numbers," Lounibos noted. "Hallmark's hard work and planning seemed to have paid off as it appears that this Valentine's Day was a complete success for Hallmark."

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NOC, NOC? Who’s there? SOASTA, and CloudTest! http://www.soasta.com/soastas-technical-blog/noc-noc-whos-soasta-cloudtest/ http://www.soasta.com/soastas-technical-blog/noc-noc-whos-soasta-cloudtest/#comments Fri, 13 Feb 2015 20:05:11 +0000 http://www.soasta.com/?p=471110 Read more »]]> Many of SOASTA’s CloudTest customers have extensive investments in various Application Performance Monitoring (APM) solutions. That said, our customers that fit this profile see the value of having visibility into all types of metrics around their production operations.

SOASTA hears you! NOC, NOC? Who’s there? SOASTA CloudTest enters the NOC with our available integration with DynaTrace’s APM solution.

Let’s look at how a Top 5 retailer, and a long-time SOASTA customer, Office Depot, is using this integration to benefit their performance operations team.

“SOASTA makes it simple to tag web requests to better follow the requests through the application,” states Erick Leon, Lead Performance Engineer at Office Depot.

With SOASTA CloudTest, testing in production no longer contains the “fear factor” that legacy solutions cause because they had no visibility into what was going on during a test, much like driving a car with no gauges, or worst yet, flying a plane in IFR conditions with no instruments (written by this pilot for any other pilots reading this blog).

And here is what the CloudTest traffic looks like in the DynaTrace dashboard:

Dynatrace Blog Post Image

 

“This capability gives us the visibility we need when used in conjunction with Dynatrace to see areas of concern from the application tier, the backend and services as well. We are able to isolate the calls and analyze performance during and post test executions,” Erick continued, “…tool integration is very valuable to us to give us the advantage we need to better understand how our application works.”

For those “devil is in the details” operations and performance engineers, here is an example DynaTrace header that can be placed in each request. The example provides the location name, server name, a page name/transaction name via ISSEs and the unique number via JS.

dynaTrace: VU=1234;PC=Chicago – Savvis;ID=99999;NA=Keyword Search

  • ID is a unique identifier for each request (NOTE: this has to be a unique number. Timestamp works best but it could also be a complex serial number) 
  • PC is used to identify the test location (NOTE: PC is actually Page Context. Typically, the page name, frame name, doc id, etc.) 
  • You can use VU to identify the test machine (NOTE: VU should be the virtual user id. Ideally, you want this to be as specific as possible because it’ll help in grouping/parsing your data. Test machine might be too high up in some cases)
  • NA is the transaction name

EXAMPLE:
dynaTrace: VU={%% expr: $context.serverName %%};PC={%% expr: $context.locationName %%} – SOASTA;ID={%% prop : clip : userNum %%};NA={%% expr: $context.currentPage.name %%}

Another Unique Number option via an ISSE:
{%%Sys-Prop:Composition:StartTimeMillis%%}-{%%Sys-Prop:Track:VUNumber%%}-{%% expr: $context.currentTrackIndex %%}

JavaScript File for Unique Number:

var startTimeMilis = new Date().getTime();
var uniqueNumber = new String(startTimeMilis);
$context.result.postMessage($context.result.LEVEL_INFO, “uniqueNumber = “+uniqueNumber);

/**
* Generates a random integer (whole number) contained within the
* two extremes (inclusive on lower extreme, exclusive on upper).
*
* Example usage:
* var num = generateRandomNumber(0,5);
* This will generate a random number, either 0, 1, 2, 3 or 4
*
* var num = generateRandomNumber(5,8);
* This will generate a random number either 5, 6 or 7
*/
function generateRandomNumber(lowerExtreme, upperExtreme) {
return Math.floor((Math.random() * (upperExtreme – lowerExtreme)) + lowerExtreme);
}

// End Function

$prop.set(“MessageClip”, “userNum”, uniqueNumber)

So for SOASTA customers running CloudTest and DynaTrace APM in their NOC, go ahead and grab another 4K TV for your NOC—there’s some REAL data coming your way.

NOC, NOC? Come on in SOASTA! We’re glad you’re here.

SOASTA. Performance is everything.

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SOASTA Valentine’s Day Survey: Social Media, Shopping, Booking Dinner Reservations Among Top Online and Mobile Activities http://www.soasta.com/press-releases/soasta-valentines-day-survey-social-media-shopping-booking-dinner-reservations-among-top-online-mobile-activities/ http://www.soasta.com/press-releases/soasta-valentines-day-survey-social-media-shopping-booking-dinner-reservations-among-top-online-mobile-activities/#comments Thu, 12 Feb 2015 13:00:08 +0000 http://www.soasta.com/?p=471070 Read more »]]> More than half of smartphone/tablet owners say online and mobile activities are critical this Valentine’s Day; one in five millennial men will use dating apps like OKCupid and Tinder

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., Feb. 12, 2015 SOASTA, the leader in performance analytics, today announced the results of its 2015 Valentine’s Day Survey, examining online and mobile habits and preferences of Americans in the days leading up to the holiday. The research revealed that more than half (52%) of Americans owning smartphones or tablets say online and mobile activities will be critical to their Valentine’s Day plans, with the most popular activities including visiting social media sites, shopping and booking dinner reservations.

SOASTA commissioned the Valentine’s Day Survey to raise awareness around the peak traffic and high download rates expected during the holiday. The survey was conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of SOASTA from Jan. 21-23, 2015 among 2,057 adults, 1,496 of which own smartphones or tablets.

More than one-quarter (26 percent) of smartphone/tablet owners say they will use social media apps like Facebook and Twitter on Valentine’s Day, followed by finding the perfect gift for their Valentine on sites like Amazon, FTD and 1800Flowers (23 percent). Nearly one in five (19 percent) say they will use apps like Open Table and Urban Spoon to book Valentine’s Day dinner reservations.

SOASTA’s study discovered that one in five (20 percent) millennial men say that dating apps like OKCupid and Tinder will be critical to their Valentine’s Day plans, while more than one in three (35 percent) will use their smartphone or tablet to play music using apps like Spotify and Pandora and nearly one in three (32 percent) will use picture sharing apps like Instagram and SnapChat. Millennial men are also much more likely to use their smartphone or tablet to book a Valentine’s Day dinner reservation than their female counterparts, with more than one-third (34 percent) of men saying they will do so compared to only one in five (20 percent) of millennial women.

Additional online and mobile activities that will be popular with smartphone and tablet users this Valentine’s Day include:

  • Picture sharing (17 percent)
  • Playing music (16 percent)
  • Sending ecards (13 percent)
  • Buying movie tickets (11 percent)
  • Playing games (10 percent)
  • Dating (6 percent)
  • Booking transportation (5 percent)

“Our research shows that millions of Americans will be relying on websites and apps to plan their Valentine’s Day this year, whether it’s shopping for a last minute gift or making a dinner reservation,” said Tom Lounibos, CEO of SOASTA. “Performance is everything, and online retailers may only get one shot at meeting and exceeding users’ demands for quality before they move on to another website or app. Online retailers need to take every holiday seriously and be ready to deliver the best possible digital experience even at peak traffic conditions.”

Survey Methodology

This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of SOASTA from Jan. 21-23, 2015, among 2,057 adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact Sara Black at sara.black@grayling.com

About SOASTA:

SOASTA is the leader in performance analytics. The SOASTA platform enables digital business owners to gain unprecedented and continuous performance insights into their real user experience on mobile and Web devices – in real time, and at scale. With more than 10 million tests performed and more than 100 billion user experiences measured, SOASTA is the digital performance expert trusted by industry-leading companies including Experian, Hallmark, Intuit, and Microsoft. SOASTA is privately held and headquartered in Mountain View, Calif. For more information about SOASTA, please visit http://www.soasta.com.

SOASTA is a registered trademark of SOASTA, Inc. All other trademarks are property of their respective owners. Other product or company names mentioned may be trademarks or trade names of their respective companies.

CONTACT:    

Sara Black, Grayling

Sara.black@grayling.com

213.618.1501

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Mobile App Failure: What Happens Next? http://www.soasta.com/soastas-trends-blog/mobile-app-failure-happens-next/ http://www.soasta.com/soastas-trends-blog/mobile-app-failure-happens-next/#comments Wed, 11 Feb 2015 16:47:35 +0000 http://www.soasta.com/?p=471036 Read more »]]> Your masterful mobile app has suddenly become glitchy and unresponsive. Now what?

Performance directly impacts your user base, and your business as a whole.

Research has shown that nearly half of mobile shoppers will jump to a competitor’s website if there is 3 second lag time. Again, nearly half of users will delete a mobile app altogether if initial troubleshooting fails, deterring the chance to rectify an initial poor user experience on the front end.

Furthermore, 44% of users will take to social media, sharing negative experiences with the extensive online community, and even negative online reviews.

See how to prevent and rectify these situations for your mobile app users:

SOASTA_AppFailure_Infographic ]]>
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Preparing for Valentine’s Day traffic spikes: Ensuring continuous performance http://www.soasta.com/soastas-trends-blog/preparing-for-valentines-day-traffic-spikes-ensuring-continuous-performance/ http://www.soasta.com/soastas-trends-blog/preparing-for-valentines-day-traffic-spikes-ensuring-continuous-performance/#comments Wed, 11 Feb 2015 15:44:06 +0000 http://www.soasta.com/soastas-trends-blog/preparing-for-valentines-day-traffic-spikes-ensuring-continuous-performance/ Valentine's Day is just around the corner, meaning a large number of consumers will be utilizing Web and mobile applications to prepare for the holiday. Where in the past this meant visiting a local florist, confectionery or department store, more individuals are now turning to online channels to ensure holiday success.

This means one important thing for retailers: they must be prepared for the influx of traffic that comes with the season or risk providing a less-than-enjoyable user experience. In some cases, traffic spikes that accompany Valentine's Day have caused websites to crash, resulting in considerable lost profits and customer connections. To avoid this, there are several best practices you can utilize to ensure your customers have the best experience possible – whether they're shopping weeks before the holiday, or the day before.

Last minute shoppers cause traffic spikes 

"No matter how long customers wait to shop, retailers should be prepared to support their needs."

One aspect that many retailers might overlook is the fact that despite holiday promotions nearly hitting customers in the face this month, a considerable number of individuals will wait or forget to do their shopping until mere days before Feb. 14. This is especially important for online retailers, as Network​ World contributor Colin Neagle pointed out that many last minute shoppers will leverage e-commerce services as a way "to make up for lost time."

However, an influx of users inundating the site with transaction requests just days before the holiday could prove to be more traffic than planned for. When this happens, the overall performance of the website can suffer. In the current e-commerce environment, customers are now expecting more from retailers than ever before, most not standing for slow load times, and with a competitor's site just clicks away, this proves increasingly detrimental. 

"It all comes down to performance because any slowdowns impact the revenue of a company," noted industry expert Lisa Robinson Schoeller. "It used to be OK if you had, say, a six-second response time to load a page. But now it's really a second or less to load. Otherwise you're going to lose those customers to another site, because the competition is just a click away."

No matter how long customers wait to shop, retailers should be prepared to support their needs. In this way, performance and load testing ahead of time is invaluable to providing even the most last-minute of shoppers the best experience possible. SOASTA's performance testing solutions can help your brand test high traffic levels to see just how the website will react. Using these insights, your company can adjust its resources appropriately to ensure that all customer activities can be carried out quickly and efficiently.

Retailers aren't the only businesses that should prepare
Although much of Valentine's Day has become about flowers and candy, retailers aren't the only organizations that should prepare for higher traffic levels around this holiday. In fact, according to 2012 research findings from Google Analytics, Nielsen, Experian and marketing firm iAcquire, online dating sites also experience boosted traffic in February. Research results show somewhat surprising results: that online dating website traffic doesn't actually peak on Valentine's Day, but increases somewhat before and significantly after Feb. 14. In fact, the week after Valentine's Day showed traffic spikes, the pinnacle of which came on Feb. 19.

These findings demonstrate that retailers aren't the only ones that should ensure continuous performance for their customers. Online dating sites see increased traffic as well and should leverage performance and load testing to help guarantee that their users have an enjoyable experience as well.

Don't forget the mobile platform
No matter what industry a company operates within, they should take their mobile platform into account with their Valentine's Day preparations. Mobile traffic in connection with the holiday has considerably increased in recent years, with a 114 percent growth in 2013 alone. In addition, researchers found that nearly a quarter of traffic on intimate apparel and jewelry websites – 24 percent and 22 percent respectively – comes from mobile devices. For this reason, it is critical to not only ensure the continuous performance of the company's main website, but their mobile application as well.

"Despite traffic fluctuations, retailers and other organizations should still be able to deliver a leading experience for customers that sets them apart from their competitors."

In these respects, there are few things more valuable than having a picture of actual mobile device users and their activities. SOASTA's Real User Monitoring solution provides just this data, offering clients the ability to measure mobile device metrics in real time to help them guarantee that their mobile presence is prepared for holiday traffic as well.

Ensuring continuous performance in the face of traffic spikes
Despite traffic fluctuations, retailers and other organizations should still be able to deliver a leading experience for customers that sets them apart from their competitors. By preparing ahead of time, businesses can ensure that they are ready for the challenges that accompany Valentine's Day traffic spikes.

"There are going to be problems with these spikes in demand you see around specific types of holidays," said Melinda Ballou, IDC Application Life-Cycle Management and Executive Strategies program director. "The main thing to consider when you have these spikes in demand is you need to actually have the ability to automate and understand what the impact is going to be from an end-user perspective."

SOASTA and our award-winning line of performance and load testing solutions can provide just the insights companies need at this time of year, and beyond. To find out more about continuous performance, contact SOASTA today.

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Super Bowl Revisited: Did You Support Your Ad? Testing and Optimizing for Guaranteed Performance http://www.soasta.com/soastas-trends-blog/super-bowl-revisited-support-ad-testing-optimizing-guaranteed-performance/ http://www.soasta.com/soastas-trends-blog/super-bowl-revisited-support-ad-testing-optimizing-guaranteed-performance/#comments Sun, 08 Feb 2015 17:52:58 +0000 http://www.soasta.com/?p=470938 Read more »]]> For many organizations that participate in Super Bowl advertising, their ads equate to art and can make or break business for the remainder of the year. And while some organizations will spend months – if not an entire year or more – planning the content and message included in their Super Bowl ad, many fail to take into account the resulting increase in website traffic.

Creating a contemporary, memorable ad is no doubt important. But without the proper support for the corresponding website, efforts here can go to waste. Today, most viewers have multiple screens at their fingertips: one set to the big game, with mobile devices nearby for web browsing and other various activities. This draws a direct correlation between the visual ad, which then translates into increased website traffic. If consumers are unable to access the page, they’ll simply find another platform that spurs their interest.

For this reason, load testing to ensure proper performance is critical – especially during peak usage periods like Super Bowl Sunday. Let’s take a look at the case of Super Bowl ads and how your brand can test and optimize its web page to help guarantee top-tier performance.

Super Bowl ads: Boosted traffic worth the price
It’s no secret that Super Bowl Sunday is a big event, even for those who aren’t football fans. According to Forbes, the 2013 Super Bowl was watched by over 108 million people. However, studies show that half of that audience – approximately 54 million viewers – flipped the game on just to watch the ads. And for many businesses, the steep price of a spot during the event is worth the investment.

Forbes found that during the 2014 game, a 30-second spot cost advertisers a staggering $4 million, while a 60-second ad came with an $8 million price tag. This doesn’t include the cost of making the actual commercial, which for many brands could total several thousand dollars or more to create something their customers and other viewers will not only enjoy, but remember.

So what exactly makes these spots so valuable? Besides the fact that companies have the opportunity to capture the attention of millions of potential clients, research shows that those that advertise during the big game are guaranteed to see a staggering increase in their website traffic.

Adobe recently put this to the test, comparing website traffic from typical days to that of event days. Findings showed that overall, advertisers could count on a 20 percent increase in visits on game day, as well as higher traffic throughout the following week. Traffic doubled on the mobile platform alone.

“These data points are compelling, but most striking in the percentage of online videos accessed by tablets and mobile phones, reaching 16 percent on a day with a major sporting event – a 100 percent increase compared to a typical day in sports,” Adobe stated.

Not prepared for the boost in traffic
History has proven that in past years, retailers simply weren’t ready for the boost in traffic related to their ads, and as a result, consumers were unable to visit their websites. According to Yottaa, 13 advertisers’ websites crashed or performed poorly after their ads were shown during Super Bowl XLVII.

One of these was beverage giant Coca-Cola, which asked viewers to vote for the best ending for their ad on an interactive website. The platform was unable to handle all the requests, resulting in page load times of more than a minute – longer than the commercial itself. In addition to problems with its Super Bowl ad voting page, the company also saw only 92 percent uptime on its main homepage that day. Due to the poor experience, users weren’t happy and let the company know via Twitter and other multiple avenues.

Planning ahead for traffic spikes
In order to avoid a similar fate, your company must plan ahead for the spike in traffic that will come alongside its Super Bowl ad. There are a number of actions brands can take to adequately prepare, including:

  • Simplifying website content: One way to optimize your website to ensure enhanced performance is to do away with the unnecessary bells and whistles and keep only the most important content on the page. When users visit a page, load-intensive features like videos can slow down page load times, particularly when there is a spike in usage. Removing these items – especially on the day of the event – can help boost page load times and reduce the chances of a crash.
  • Reduce infrastructure requests: Take a look at the IP addresses that request access to the website and blocking those that might be unnecessary. For instance, if your company’s customers are only based in the North America, specialized software can help block requests from other regions. This helps ensure that the platform is available to Super Bowl viewers.
  • Leverage historical comparisons: Another way to ensure readiness is to examine traffic levels during previous years and use these as a benchmark. For example, if your brand saw a 15 percent boost in online traffic during last year’s big game, the company should prepare for the same level – if not more – this year. With these metrics, the organization can work with its service provider to scale their resources to the appropriate level.

Ensure readiness with performance testing
These strategies are helpful, but best way to prepare for the boost in traffic is with performance and load testing. Using solutions like SOASTA CloudTest and mPulse can help brands visualize their website capabilities, how many users they are able to support, and where the bulk of their users are located geographically. Performance testing ahead of time can help decision-makers pinpoint areas in need of improvement, and adjust their websites to guarantee that come game day, they’re ready for the increase in traffic.

Ready to Test Now?

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Top 4 Tech Trends Impacting App Development for 2015 http://www.soasta.com/soastas-trends-blog/2015s-top-4-tech-trends-impacting-app-development/ http://www.soasta.com/soastas-trends-blog/2015s-top-4-tech-trends-impacting-app-development/#comments Thu, 05 Feb 2015 17:13:46 +0000 http://www.soasta.com/?p=470933 Read more »]]> At the start of the new year, experts predict the emerging trends that will impact different technological sectors going forward. These predictions help shape certain industries over the next 12 months, and influence how companies operating in these sectors view their business processes.

Recently, the experts at Salesforce released their predictions for the top tech trends that will be seen within the IT app development industry this year. In the report, Salesforce noted that the world is currently in the midst of a technological revolution, largely driven by increased app usage, which, according to comScore, increased more than 52 percent from June 2013 to June 2014 alone.

“IT departments are being challenged to keep up by building and releasing apps that make the grade for customers, employees and partners,” Salesforce’s Laura Fagan stated. “Even point-and-click developers have a tremendous opportunity to make an impact with apps.”

In the current environment, it is easy to understand why development teams might look to emerging trends to help streamline their projects and make their efforts more effective. We’ve highlighted the top four trends that will shape the work developers engage in this year:

1) Rising demand for mobile apps
It’s no secret that today’s users are leveraging an increasing number of mobile applications on a daily basis related to both enterprise and consumer activities. This trend – particularly the rising usage seen in the corporate sector – is driving increased demand for new mobile apps. To illustrate the prolific nature of this trend, a recent Mobility Insights Report showed that the vast majority – 77 percent – of respondents said mobile is one of their company’s top initiatives in 2015.

Fagan noted that this will create both disruption and opportunity for developers, as they work to keep up with demands and release more apps for the mobile platform. In many respects, these programs can be boiled down into two categories – apps for enterprise employees, and apps aimed at the brand’s customers. Developers can expect that much of their work this year will revolve around these two user sectors.

2) Continual iteration of mobile apps
Salesforce also noted that this year, developers are not likely to release a “one-and-done mobile app,” where the program is made available to users and not consistently updated. Instead, development teams should prepare themselves for constant inte​gration, where mobile apps are updated with new information on a weekly or even daily basis.

“Frequent updates mean increased app iterations and decreased cycle times,” Salesforce noted. “The new app currency comes down to how fast you can make your apps better.”

This trend will require the use of feedback from both employees and customers, which is leveraged by the team to shape updates that not only add new content, but improve the overall user experience as well.

3) App development democratization
Another impactful trend shaping development this year concerns the democratization of apps, which simply means that teams have a range of languages, frameworks and other tools at their disposal for the creation of new programs. Even less experienced developers have the ability to establish a connected, impactful application in the current environment.

“The next generation of Platform as a Service gives developers and business users alike everything needed to not only build apps, but do so fast, plus immediately make them mobile and social,” Fagan wrote. “Business users without an in-depth coding background are empowered with quick-start tools that make creating apps almost as easy as putting together a spreadsheet.”

In this way, every company has the opportunity to create a mobile app that will help boost brand reputation and better connect with their clients.

4) More actionable data than ever before
One trend that is sure to continue into 2015 is the use of big data to uncover actionable insights about a range of various critical aspects, including customer preferences, products and company processes. In order to have access to this important information, connectivity and integration are key. However, Confirmit research shows that nearly half – 48 percent – of IT department heads struggle with integration.

“The faster IT can build mobile apps, the more data they are going to want to put into them so it’s available to the end user,” Fagan noted. “And no matter how many apps they build, each one needs to be able to leverage the same version of the data in real time.”

Business leaders and development teams must have a full picture of the big data they have on hand in order to make effective decisions about their mobile strategy.

Overall, Salesforce pointed out that these trends revolve around the idea of innovation and speed.

“Speed is the key to successfully innovating with apps in the enterprise,” Fagan stated. “In order to compete and keep up with changing demands, IT must develop apps and improve upon them, fast.”

In these respects, teams must have the best tools on hand to make sure their applications are ready for release. Industry-leading testing tools offered on the SOASTA platform ensure that apps are ready for the marketplace and will provide the best value for the enterprise, its employees and its customers.

Ready to Learn More?

 

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