Software is being released faster each year, and customer expectations of user experiences are rising at the same time. This is making it harder to deliver an adequate user experience because every new code change has the potential to impact the performance of the application.

Performance testing is an important way to ensure each new release meets performance expectations in terms of speed, scalability, stability, responsiveness, and other non-functional characteristics. That’s why integrating performance testing in DevOps is just as important as functional testing.

In this article, we’ll cover the challenges with delayed feedback on application performance, and why it makes sense to run performance tests earlier in the development process. We’ll also discuss some of the tooling requirements for integrating performance testing into DevOps.

Challenges with Delayed Feedback on Performance Testing

Since functional quality tends to take precedence over non-functional aspects, many software teams leave performance testing until a build is almost ready for release, or even skip performance testing altogether. 

This often happens because teams may not have time to create or update performance test scripts when there are code changes, or they lack the tools or expertise to conduct performance tests and analyze the results themselves. In fact, the 2022 State of Testing in DevOps showed that only 6% of teams were satisfied with their ability to ensure the performance of their applications. And when developers do get feedback from performing testing, it’s often delayed until much later in the development process.

The problem is that it can be more difficult to identify the root cause of performance issues later on. By the time developers have received feedback from performance testing, they may have moved on to other tasks. It can also be harder to reproduce the issue because environment conditions may have changed or additional code changes can obscure the root cause.

Delayed feedback can also increase the cost and time required to fix performance issues. The longer it takes to identify a bug or defect, the more resources are needed to resolve them because developers no longer have the proper context. They may need to spend additional time to understand issues discovered later than they would have if they knew about the issue during the build process.

In addition, unresolved performance issues can compound over time. Delayed feedback not only makes issues harder and more expensive to troubleshoot, but also increases the risk that underlying inefficiencies and technical debt can progressively degrade the performance of an application. That’s why it’s important to run performance tests (including regression tests) more frequently so that developers have the insights they need to prevent performance issues from accumulating.

The Benefits of Integrating Performance Testing into DevOps

Integrating performance testing in DevOps allows organizations to adopt a shift-left testing approach. Developers can get feedback earlier in the development process, and resolve issues significantly faster than a delayed performance testing approach. This is in part because it’s easier to troubleshoot and fix performance issues when developers don’t have to sift through weeks of code changes to find the root cause.

By checking for performance degradation in lower environments, it’s also easier for quality teams to prevent regressions — or code changes that adversely affect existing functionality. Running performance regression tests more frequently closes the gap between the time a performance issue arises and the time it’s identified. This helps developers resolve potential performance issues before they ship code to avoid project delays.

Running smaller load tests at lower environments more frequently can also reduce the costs involved with performance testing in CI/CD. It’s expensive to run large-scale tests in production environments, so it makes sense to run smaller load tests in development and staging environments to ensure the application meets basic performance requirements. These smaller load tests require far fewer computing resources and can uncover many high-impact issues before simulating real-world workloads with more expensive types of performance tests.

What Tools Are Best for Running Performance Tests in DevOps?

Many organizations lack adequate tools for running performance tests in development pipelines without slowing down software teams. That’s why a low-code test automation platform is one of the most important tools for guaranteeing the scalability, reliability, and stability of an application.

Most performance tests need to be automated because it’s difficult to simulate heavy loads or activity volumes with manual testing methods. Automated performance testing also makes it easier to run performance tests whenever new code changes are deployed to a production-like environment (such as staging or pre-production). This ensures software teams have immediate feedback on the performance impact of every new build.

An effective performance testing solution should also include low code features for creating, running, and managing test suites. By reducing the setup time and eliminating script maintenance, low-code testing tools streamline the testing process, increase productivity, and lower the barrier to entry for team members with limited coding expertise. This can improve DevOps metrics and Practices, leading to higher software quality and increased development velocity at the same time, and increase collaboration between quality and development teams.

Modern Performance Testing with mabl

Mabl is a low-code automated testing solution with scalable and continuous performance testing capabilities. By enabling teams to run API load tests without scripts or specialized frameworks, the platform makes it easy for anyone to evaluate application performance.

Native integrations to CI/CD solutions and a flexible command line interface also allow mabl to seamlessly integrate performance tests into development pipelines. Integrating mabl into the DevOps process allows organizations to shift software testing left — including functional and non-functional testing — using a unified platform. This ensures development teams can proactively identify and resolve issues before they reach production. 

Mabl can also run performance tests in the cloud for maximum scalability and efficiency, eliminating the need to provision and maintain testing infrastructure. The test results are processed in real-time, so teams can get shareable and easy-to-analyze reports to shorten the performance testing feedback loop. This reduces the effort involved in adopting a modern approach to performance testing in CI/CD.

Want to integrate performance testing into your DevOps processes? Explore mabl’s performance testing capabilities.