Beginner’s guide to load testing 1

Recently I got tasked with load testing an internal system and producing statistics for the team to show how well it will scale once it is put into production.

After some intense research I decided to go with “The Grinder” which allows multiple tests to be run by multiple machines which can all funnel their collected statistics back up to a central “console”. Tests are written in Python which, in turn, gets fed through Jython and converted into native Java bytecode to be run by participating Grinder agent instances. Grinder works on a single, user-definable port, for both pushing scripts to listening agents as well as gathering statistics from tests.

Initially I decided to try and capture the results of each individual test in a MySQL database but abandoned that idea when the tests ended up overloading the MySQL database server before the web app we were primarily testing. Logging results also proved to be an interesting feat since it swampped the agent’s filesystems after less than an hour (we were running multiple processes and threads) as well.

We eventually settled on simply capturing the combined statistical data at the root console level (the way Grinder is designed) and displaying it via a plugin in Hudson.

Overall Grinder worked great for testing the load of our web app (which passed with flying colors). And since Grinder works natively in Java we are also planning on testing specific Java classes directly in the future as well as their overall performance through a web based front-end such as a servlet.

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