Written by Peter Galvin on March 20, 2014
Pre-production vs. post production: How about continuous delivery?
In the past there’s been much talk about the differences between pre-production activities and post-production activities. Often, these were disconnected silos where development would create the application and effectively “toss” it over to operations for deployment. When the inevitable problems occurred, fingers began pointing at one group or another complaining about the poor code quality or insufficient infrastructure. Fortunately for us all, we’ve moved to a continuous delivery model, which is an ongoing process and not just a handoff between groups. One of the ways that development teams address this worldwide, including our very own, is through the SOASTA platform.
Through our work with etailers, leading brick and mortar brands, and financial services companies, we’ve seen that optimizing websites’ performance, especially those with a consumer-facing website, improves the user experience, increasing engagement and brand loyalty.
Quality starts with careful pre-production load testing to avert preventable disruptions, delays and failures. It also means careful real-time, post-development monitoring of actual user experiences so that you can be aware of and respond to unexpected situations at the time they arise. This is the beginning of the continuous delivery process.
Clearly, this isn’t an easy problem to solve. To ensure fast performance under peak loads, you must commit to performance testing before, during and after site launch. In the world of agile development, few businesses can afford to feature-freeze their environment for months. And even if you can efficiently code-freeze application elements, you’re still vulnerable to the integration challenges that come with third-party components – CDNs, shopping carts, payment systems, and more – that contribute to the user experience.
SOASTA addresses this need for a series of high-load performance testing with CloudTest. Using real-time analytics, a visual test creation environment, dynamic provisioning, and the ability to start, stop, pause, and restart tests, CloudTest gives you testing flexibility to accelerate the iterative testing process. That acceleration also translates into less time and expense for performance testing. Instead of betting on a single flight of tests right before launch, you can perform comprehensive testing throughout the development lifecycle and create higher-performing, reliable and fast websites that breed brand loyalty and bring in higher revenue.
Once the site is up and running, it’s critical to see real user experiences in a timely fashion. Week- or day-old reports won’t salvage your sales and marketing efforts. Substandard performance requires immediate action. When it comes to these post-launch performance improvements, traditionally, the focus has been on back-end server stability and scalability. And those are certainly worthy initiatives. However, between 80-90 percent of page load time – which is ultimately what the consumer cares about – is spent on the front end, in the browser. That’s why website owners must test and monitor from a real user point of view.
mPulse, SOASTA’s RUM solution, captures and aggregates the performance and engagement metrics that matter most to web performance. That data comes in real time, giving you the real user intelligence that correlates the impact of performance on the bottom line. That means you can take immediate action and feed critical information back into the development lifecycle.
With the combination of continuous performance testing in pre- and post-production, coupled with real user monitoring and measurement on productions sites, organizations can now continuously and confidently deliver new applications and ensure they are testing what matters.
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