Business Value of Performance Engineering

The tasks involved in building, testing, or managing a software application are performance-driven.  In various stages of software building and development, performance optimization plays a functional and indispensable role.

Performance engineering is those set of roles, tools and practices embedded into various stages of the software development life cycle, which use quantitative methods to identify satisfactory designs and to eliminate those with unacceptable performance, before the stage of implementation. This is done in order to ensure that the solution is designed, implemented and operationally supported to meet the non-functional performance requirements/ requirements that judge the operation of the entire system, rather than specific behaviors.

Why is Performance Engineering significant?

Organizations previously worked in a manner that focused more on correctness and pushed consideration of performance to the final testing stages. This approach used the addition of new hardware and tuning the existing software, to correct the performance challenges detected in testing stages.

This approach is no longer effective, and the complexities arising in present times call for a newer approach that embeds performance testing into every stage of development.

  • Increasing size and complexity of systems: Due to the dramatic increase in number, size and complexity of systems, performance challenges have become more frequent and often, more difficult to handle.
  • Hardware addition is no longer a solution: Mere addition of new hardware can no longer effectively sort all the software threading issues. Even as processor speeds are increasing, network speeds are taking a plunge. All these problems can only be sorted by having efficient performance testing systems in place, at all stages.

How is engineering merged with performance modelling?

Performance modelling is the application of principles of engineering to enhance your system’s performance. It involves the setting up of key objects to meet, and the careful monitoring of progress made towards those objectives. Measuring your progress throughout the system’s life-cycle ensures that the chosen path leads towards the predetermined objects and not away from them.

The following are the various stages involved in performance modelling:

  1. Setting up performance objectives to identify when your system meets your performance requirements.
  2. Designing a performance model to ensure a systematic approaching to meeting the set performance goals.
  3. Deciding on architecture and design guidelines for a more organized approach to performance.
  4. Setting up a performance and scalability frame to organize and monitor performance issues.
  5. Monitoring your performance to ensure that your system/ application is headed in the direction of meeting your performance objectives.
  6. Clearly defining the roles and responsibilities of team members to reduce any ambiguities and to guide team towards optimal performance.
Performance enginnering Chart

Source: https://i-msdn.sec.s-msft.com/dynimg/IC7499.gif

Value of Performance Engineering to your business:

  • Scope of Performance Engineering

Performance Engineering comprises those practices, systems and activities that are built into the software developing cycle to ensure that an existing solution meets all the non-functional requirements. The fact that performance engineering focuses more on non-functional requirements, instead of on specific behaviors, is a crucial factor that defines the scope of performance engineering. Non-functional requirements address issues pertaining to the end product such as the product’s usability, scalability, sustainability, extensibility, security, etc.

Performance engineering plays a vital role in different stages of software development, and is crucial in defining non-functional requirements, developing test plans to support load testing, assessing alternatives, monitoring production systems, among others. It is a reliable technique that is grounded in methods of statistical analysis, and sound modelling techniques. Its functions can therefore be extended beyond software testing, to other domains like business modelling.

  • Reducing Performance failures

In today’s world of constant activity and buzz, every minute is more valuable than it ever was. Customers today do not have either the patience or the time to sit through a website outage or a software performance glitch. Therefore, performance failures cost you significantly in terms of both money and customer retention. Having a sound system of performance engineering in place, is inevitable to avoid these untimely failures to perform.

  • Design Validation

The first stage of system construction is getting the design in place. Ensuring that a particular design meets all the non-functional requirements, prior to building the system will help eliminate the need to rebuild whole systems, saving time, money, and effort. Performance engineering helps to validate a design prior to its construction and also aids in assessing the risks and drawbacks involved.

  • Requirements Validation

Performance engineering is chiefly concerned with ensuring that all the non-functional requirements for a chosen system are attainable, even before the design for that system is ready. This is where requirements validation helps ensure that all the needed non-functional requirements can be met using minimal design and architecture, using just the existing technology.

  • Load Testing

In order to assess the performance of a system under different conditions of load, artificial load is induced into it. This is called load testing. Using records of response times and resource utilization, the system’s ability to function under different load scenarios, is studied. A system is identified as scalable, when the system’s throughput increases proportionally to the capacity of the added hardware.

  • Capacity Planning

The part of performance engineering which predicts a system’s ability to handle increased load and still meet the non-functional requirements, is capacity planning. Identifying those components of the system which limit the throughput and scalability of the system, is a part of capacity planning.

  • Trade-off analysis

Performance analysis, modelling and simulation are used to conduct a design validation and trade-off. In a trade-off analysis, a selected feature or aspect of a design, is traded-off or altered to study the impact of the feature on the overall functionality of the design. This is crucial to optimizing the design and performance of the system.

  • Performance Monitoring

Deploying a system forms only the first step of a project. This needs to be suitably followed by steps to constantly monitor and measure its performance, in order to ensure that unforeseen problems are kept safely at bay. Monitoring a system calls for a complete awareness of the state of the system, and a complete readiness to take on potential problems.

Monitoring a system involves several steps such as, ensuring that a system component is available for use at all times, taking a constant note of various measurements like system load and resource utilization, etc. This collected data is stored, for instant retrieval, in order to run performance analyses, track changes and trends, which can in turn be used to make estimations about the future.

 

When to adopt performance engineering?

Performance engineering activities are relevant throughout the system’s life cycle, from system acquisition to sustainment. Adoption of performance engineering in the early stages of the systems life cycle, when there is still an opportunity to impact the design, ensures that key performance requirements are met. Performance engineering techniques aid in design validation, concept validation and in determining whether the chosen solution is feasible, in the Pre-Systems Acquisition stage itself. Performance engineering techniques have been recognized as most crucial in manufacturing and production stages. However, the early adoption of its concepts allows scope for making important changes when the time is still ripe.

Conclusion

Companies today are increasingly aware of the challenges posed by unanticipated performance failures. These tiny glitches in performance cost big in terms of customer retention and hassle-free service delivery.  Performance engineering provides a systematic and cost-effective means of handling problems of system performance. It serves as an effective method of reducing project costs and eliminating unseen glitches in system’s functioning and service delivery. In addition, it provides a framework to thoroughly analyse a design, predict its functionalities and devise methods to deal with possible break-downs.

In short, integrating Software Performance Engineering into your work can greatly enhance your performance and aid you in meeting your key objectives.