Interview, Moods

NeoLoad: load testing for flex

4 Comments 09 August 2010

NeoLoad: load testing for flex

Fans of continuous integration and agile development are used to the strategic “load testing” step in their production workflow. There are not so many players in this market. The most famous one may be HP Mercury with the solution named “LoadRunner”. This environment targets large accounts but is not up-to-date regarding Flex applications (AMF3, RTMP…). That’s why more and more developers are using NeoLoad to perform load tests. The goal of load testing is to emulate a high number of requests on a system, and measure its response. With Flex applications, the tool needs to emulate AMF and RTMP requests, which  NeoLoad can do. I’ve had the opportunity to meet the NeoLoad team several times in the past. I can tell you that they are pure Flex lovers, and that the last release is a “must-have” in your development chain. Now, let’s ask some questions to Stephane who works for Neotys and explains, at the end of this interview, how they implemented load testing for RTMP applications.

Hi Stéphane, before presenting NeoLoad, can you introduce yourself and your company ?

Hello Michael, I’m Stephane Jammet and I’m the MD of Neotys. Since 2005, Neotys has helped its clients in over 60 countries to ensure their applications’ reliability, performance and quality. Neotys’ vision is to make launching web applications easier with a strong technological focus on web & RIA applications testing challenges.
Neotys has more than 850 renowned customers in North America, EMEA and Asia like Symantec, Xerox, Lockheed Martin and Siemens who rely on NeoLoad to load test and tune their critical web applications.
Neotys HQ is in France and we have offices in the USA and Germany. Neotys is an Adobe Solution Partner.  Additional information is available at http://www.neotys.com .
What is NeoLoad ?

NeoLoad is a Load and Performance testing solution.Performance Testing answers the following questions:
* Will my application scale under load?
* Will my predefined performance targets be met?
* How many simultaneous users can my application handle?
* How many simultaneous messages per second can my current infrastructure support?
NeoLoad is a new generation tool with better efficiency to realize performance tests faster, while providing pertinent analyses and full support for all new technologies. With NeoLoad’s exclusive technology you can confidently deploy your Internet, intranet or mobile applications whatever the architecture used, even the newest such as Flex, RTMP, GWT or Ajax Push.
How would you describe the market of load testing software ?

The load testing market emerged in the late eighties led by the Mercury Interactive solution at that time.  Original players focused on mainframe and client/server performance testing. Since then the market has switched to web application testings which now represents over 80% of the performance testing requirements. Since 2000, and the transition towards web applications, the market has significantly changed with players like Neotys innovating to meet new arising needs.  Modern tools are more efficient and cost-effective solutions to load test web applications as they were created for this purpose. Key stakeholders are now more aware of the importance of load testing. It predicts performance, allows to identify web application issues in a simulated environment and to eliminate problems before they occur in real situations. By experience we can say that most performance problems are commonly caused by:
– flawed software configuration
– inefficient network configuration
– poorly designed code (e.g. concurrent access issues)
– Inadequate hardware resources
All these issues can be identified with proper load testing. We know that poor performance and interruption of services is costly and impacts businesses in many ways including loss of potential customers or partners, decrease in productivity, brand erosion, costly repairs, unnecessary hardware investment just to name a few.
Load testing ensures that an application will meet its performance requirements once in production and therefore decreases the risks inherent to new or upgraded applications being deployed. By stress testing an application, you can make sure that it will be 100% reliable before it goes live.
Do you feel that more and more company are adopting load testing solutions? Especially with RIA ?
We are in a very exciting market with several drivers. Firstly, performance testing is becoming mainstream and is no longer reserved to a happy few. More and more companies implement internal and external web based applications to run their business. It allows them to increase productivity and better serve their clients. Even though these companies may not be multi-national corporations they still want to have full confidence in their applications to keep expanding their business. Ease of use is a critical factor to achieve maximum efficiency when running load testing engagements. Testers, developers and project managers look for efficient solutions to meet their deadlines in an agile environment. Competition is intense at a global scale and speed and quality is the essence.
Secondly, load testing is now affordable. Gone are the days when the load testing engagements might cost more than 20% of the project. New players like Neotys offer an efficient, ergonomic and innovative product for load testing web applications at a competitive price. It extends the use of load testing tools and adds value to applications deployed on the web.
Technology is the last driver I want to mention and certainly the most significant for what we have seen so far. Companies must constantly change and adopt new technologies to reinforce their competitiveness, efficiency and differentiate themselves. They also want to streamline their operations while providing new exciting services to their customers.
RIAs bring a new paradigm in customer experience and interaction and they are not optional for companies who want to stay at the top of their market. But these innovative technologies also bring significant technical challenges in terms of integration and industrialization. Performance testing is no longer an option for these RIAs addressing very large audiences.  Therefore performance testing tools must evolve to deal with these highly advanced technical frameworks. We, at Neotys, have made the choice to stay at the forefront of RIA technologies in order to efficiently support our customers and help them deploy their new application in confidence.
You’ve just launched NeoLoad 3.1 with some amazing new features ? Can you present the new features?

Thank you Michael, we have indeed just released NeoLoad v3.1. We are very proud as it is the first test solution on the market to incorporate true support for new push technologies such as Adobe RTMP, Ajax Push and Java Serialization. NeoLoad 3.1 also offers many new features to improve the design, execution and analysis of load test campaigns.
Only NeoLoad’s optional Push module has the embedded tools and concepts that can handle Push messages. It is fully compatible with the three known communication methods: polling, long-polling and streaming.
NeoLoad 3.1 also offers significant new capabilities such as automatic handling of dynamic parameters, easier transaction modeling and preset monitoring thresholds with real time alerts for your servers. These features drastically improve the speed and effectiveness of load testing engagements. A new Java serialization module has also been added to record and replay applications using the Java object serialization over HTTP. This module supports the Spring remote framework. This new version strengthens our positioning as an innovative provider in the load testing market and we are already working on new exciting features for NeoLoad 3.2 ☺.
Can you share with us how you implemented RTMP ? It must have been a big technical challenge.

Since the beginning, Neotys decided to provide the best support for Adobe’s technologies. We were among the first providers to come out with AMF3 binary protocol support. Then we have added the LiveCycle Data Services ES Monitoring. RTMP was logically the next step but quite a challenging one!
First challenge has been to allow NeoLoad to record RTMP/RTMPT packets. As RTMP is using native sockets (ie not using the traditional HTTP/HTTPS layer), we had to put a lot of efforts into our socket layer to be able to detect, decode, and replay the requests. It has been easier for RTMPT as it is using regular HTTP and is natively supported by NeoLoad.
Second challenge is related to data decoding. We had to work a lot on our RTMP protocol decoding/encoding layer.  We based our work on the open-sourced specification of RTMP published by Adobe.
The third and maybe the biggest challenge has been to adapt NeoLoad to the Push oriented model that is used by protocols such as RTMP and RTMPT. We have decided to integrate an out-of-the-box support of the Push oriented model. We looked for many models that would fit with the way the end user is interacting with Push oriented applications. We have built dedicated features in the UI that facilitate the record and the design of the script as well as the result analysis with brand new concepts that are very innovative into the load testing space.
NeoLoad is unique in that the script can emulate this “rich” technology by:
• Reacting to the PUSH technology which updates browsers with information, independent of a full page refresh
• Listening for Polling request and detecting the execution intervals
• Automatically creating forks and dedicating a thread of the browser for PUSH and Polling technology
• Creating customized scripts for certain behaviors, saving the manual manipulation time
The initial feedback from customers is very exciting as it looks like we’ve been able to keep the ease of use of NeoLoad and apply it to the Push world!
What’s the business model ? Can we test it for free ?

A free evaluation version of NeoLoad can be downloaded on our website. This trial version is available for 30 days and allows running a full evaluation of NeoLoad in the customer’s own environment. We also provide several live webinars on a weekly basis to help our customers better understand the benefits of NeoLoad and facilitate their evaluation.
NeoLoad licenses are available on permanent or rental basis (weekly or monthly periods). Our pricing list is available on our website.
Finally, what are the typical RIAs that use NeoLoad, and how has it helped their developers to improve the quality of their system ?

As an introduction, I must confess that Adobe has done a tremendous job at providing very efficient RIA platform to the developer community. After the PoC phases we identified in 2008 and 2009, we now see a whole bunch of very large projects moving forward around the world. With NeoLoad, we have successfully supported the performance testing engagements of more than 50 Flex customers worldwide in many verticals.
Here are some highlights of what our customers say about NeoLoad and Neotys:
• « We found that NeoLoad’s user interface by far surpassed all of it’s mid to high range competitors. We found the tool intuitive and very stable. It appeared to be a mature product in terms of its Flex/Amf handling in comparison to its rivals. »
• «Thanks to NeoLoad we were able to obtain large cost savings especially when we talk about license cost. Simpler way of scripting Flex request gives opportunity to reduce time needed for test preparation and time spending on load testing process.»
• «We looked at a number of open source projects, and closed source products. None of them could match the simplicity and integrated experience that we saw with NeoLoad. The cost for NeoLoad also came in below some of the _supposedly_ more feature rich products out there. NeoLoad is by far the best combination of ease of use, functionality and price for load testing Adobe Flex applications on the market today.»
• « Compared to our current tool I would rate NeoLoad much more highly and it also compares very favourable to the higher end commercial tools. »
To learn more about our customers and what they have achieved with NeoLoad, you can access their testimonial on our website:
• The financial world (Banking, Insurance) is a big adopter of new RIA application to improve their customers’ experience. You can find a success story with Raffeisen, a major banking group with strong presence in Eastern Europe http://www.neotys.com/references/success/load-testing-raiffeisen.html .
• We have also numerous references in the software industry like Spectrum K12 in the USA http://www.neotys.com/references/success/load-testing-spectumk12.html or Martin Dawes Systems in the UK http://www.neotys.com/references/success/load-testing-martin-dawes-systems.html .
• In the Media industry, LBI in the UK is a very good reference as well  http://www.neotys.com/references/success/load-testing-lbi.html

Thanks Stephane !

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Your Comments

4 Comments so far

  1. vijay says:

    Any one please provide neoload scrits for load teting

  2. I am the Denver Flex User group manager & I’d like to invite one of your evangelists the chance to present to our Users group in Denver. We meet on the 3rd Thursday evening of each month for 2 hours. 6 :00 pm and 7:00 pm speaking slots. Would you please let me know if you have someone who can speak live or if you can present via connect. (we have a connect room & classroom set up)

    Thanks,

    Scott Guthmann, MBA | Director of Sales & Marketing |
    On3, Inc. | http://www.On3solutions.com | 110 16th St Ste 604 |
    Denver, CO 80202 | Direct: 303.885.9485 |
    Toll-Free: 877.885.7044 | Fax: 303.374.7044 | sguthmann@On3solutions.com

  3. admin says:

    Hi Scott. you can send me an email at mchaize at.. adobe dot com. I’ll see who’s available. Which topic do you want to cover ? Something specific about NeoLoad or something else ?


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  1. PIA Blog / Productivity by Design » Notre revue de presse (20/08/2010) - August 20, 2010

    […] solution de test de charge pour les applications Flex utilisant les protocoles AMF et RTMP. Consulter l’article  MéthodologieL’artisanat du développement logicielLe Cutter IT Journal a récemment […]

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I'm Michaël CHAIZE, Adobe Flash Platform Evangelist based in Paris. I'm a big fan of Rich Internet Applications and I promote the Flash Platform in the Enterprise world.
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