Load-testing my brain

Headache Relief - Morguefile.comI just have not been motivated to blog here much lately, mostly because I have been using up most of my brain cells on a performance problem at work. I’m the sole tester on a project that’s developing an ecommerce application which uses ElasticPath on top of Tomcat, connecting to an Oracle database. We have a very large product catalog and we’re struggling to find a way to cache and display it without hitting bottlenecks. Unfortunately, nothing the EP people have suggested has really helped and, in fact, we seem to have found some memory leaks somewhere within the many layers (Hibernate, Spring, Tomcat, JBoss, etc., etc.) that make up the whole application.

Of course, as a tester, it’s not my job to fix those problems, or even necessarily pinpoint where they’re happening (though the more specific I can be, the better). Instead, I’m mainly involved in actual testing that identifies the problems. I’ve done this in a variety of ways, from straightforward functional testing which demonstrates the problems from a user perspective (unfortunately, the memory problems are sometimes painfully obvious when browsing the store) to using JMeter to pound the server with various looping threads and measuring the drop in transactions per second as more threads are added.

JMeter is a pretty cool, open-source tool, but it’s definitely not my strong point. I actually have very little experience in load and stress testing, so I’m learning a lot throughout this process. Hence the drain on my brain and the resulting headaches! As much documentation as there is about JMeter floating around, there could be lots more, IMO. I suspect there is no one person who understands everything it can do! Here’s an article that will blow your mind in a geeky way – the author starts out giving some straightforward tips on JMeter usage and then spends several pages talking about the central limit theorem, confidence intervals, and other statistical goodies. I feel like I just hit myself in the head with a ball-peen hammer about a half dozen times. Good stuff.


2 Responses to Load-testing my brain

  1. I feel your pain, buddy.

    I hate things, that take up to much of my brain power.

    That must be frustrating. Do you mind telling me, who you are, or at least, what customer, I should be asking about , when I walk down the end of the hall, and go talk to our support team. You can email me directly if you would like.

    I would love to help.

    I just want to know if there is something more I can do for you. Or maybe at least if there is something more I can do for your fellow worker-bee developers.

    Anyways, I am sorry to hear that you are frustrated with something to do with Elastic Path.

    I am making sure that a number of people have read your post.

    Believe me when I say, you complaint is much appreciated.

    We can’t make something better, if we don’t hear the cries.

    On a side note. Dave O”Our resident Pod-casting Blogger/Canuck Fan”.

    Thanks for hooking me up on this Blog Post.

    Sorry, I thought you should know MGilly’s on how I found out about this.

    Over and Out,

    Have a great day.


    Mark W

  2. MGilly says:

    Mark – thanks so much for your offer of help, and I’m sorry I didn’t see it sooner. By tweaking some settings we were actually able to surmount many of our challenges and things are running better now. I don’t want anyone to get the impression that Elastic Path isn’t a great product – it really is! We’re just customizing and tweaking out the wazoo, as it were. Our lead web developer is in pretty regular contact with you guys, and we do appreciate your responsiveness. 🙂

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