The Performance Beacon

The web performance, analytics, and optimization blog

Web Performance is Customer Service

Cloud Testing is a Solution to the Problem

Fact, there are over 162 million registered Web sites today, yet only 15% (estimated) of them have had any actual Load Testing done to them. Which means all of us consumers are being used as the digital version of “Crash Test Dummies”. You have to ask yourself . . . doesn’t service matter to Web 2.0 companies?

Surely, companies like Amazon, FaceBook, Apple, and Netflix care about their Internet customers as much or more than traditional storefront companies do. After all, most of the time these are their “only” customers.

So why would they risk a customer experience that leaves a potential user/customer without service for hours, or perhaps worse waiting for 20 seconds as a new page is downloaded? Every year Business Week publishes its Annual List of “Top 10 Companies for Customer Service”.  Lists like these typically highlight traditional retail companies, and focus their evaluations on the performance of their sales or customer support telephone staffs. But, as we all move to the Internet to buy our goods and services, what happens to customer service on the Internet?

Given that the Internet is largely a self-service business, you may question just what  “good service” is to a Web user. Latency may be one of the barometers as to what defines what we should expect as good service from our Web sites. A recent report states that Amazon estimates it loses 1% in sales if their site experiences more then 100ms in latency. In another report Google states it loses up to 20% of its traffic to a page if that page takes more then a .5 seconds to load. Then there are actual web site crashes . . . companies like Skype have had very public crashes which there site crippled for hours.

So why are these sites failing, haven’t they been tested? Well, yes and no. They have been tested functionally, but very few companies actually do stress testing of their Web sites and applications. The problem is that it has become virtually impossible and too expensive to simulate or exceed real-world Web traffic in an internal test lab. Thus, Load Testing of Web sites, if done at all, is done in a very limited way (i.e. on average companies test less then 10% of there expected web traffic). Which means for all of us Internet surfers, strap on your Crash Helmets, and prepare to be frustrated with your carrier, your device, and with your service provider as you’re about to become the main resource testing how well their web sites perform.

But don’t despair too long. A new way to simulate real world scenarios is here and it’s called Cloud Testing. This new way of testing Web applications and networks leverages Cloud Computing to simulate Web traffic, and does so at a fraction of the cost of traditional testing methods. What used to cost millions of dollars now costs a few thousand for a few hours of testing. It’s fast, easy, and affordable and provides great insight to how applications will actually run in the real world. n the future there should be a new list of “Top Services Companies”. These companies should be recognized for as having the best customer service record for the Internet. That will be largely tied to their web performance. I suspect the winners will be using Cloud Testing.

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Tom Lounibos

About the Author

Tom Lounibos

As CEO of SOASTA, Tom brings more than 30 years of experience building early stage software companies, leading two companies to successful IPOs. Tom is a regular speaker at both cloud and testing events, and has become a leading advocate in using the cloud to empower individuals and accelerate changes in how applications are built, tested and deployed. Most recently, Tom served as President and CEO of Kenamea. Prior to Kenamea, he was CEO of Dorado Corp., a financial services software provider. Previous to Dorado, he was EVP of Sagent Technology through its 1999 IPO, entrepreneur-in-residence at Crosspoint Venture Partners, and held executive positions at Digitalk Corp., Knowledgeware (KWI) and Encore Financial Services. Tom also serves on several boards in the Silicon Valley.