App Performance Testing Continues to Generate Excitement, at Least Among Vendors

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    Last month, in a post titled, “Who Knew Web App Performance Testing Could Stir Such Passion?,” I wrote about Appvance CEO Kevin Surace, a serial entrepreneur who talks about load testing Web apps the way Thomas Edison must have talked about incandescent light. Apparently, some kind of fever is going around Silicon Valley. Now, Alon Girmonsky, CEO of BlazeMeter, a provider of cloud-based app performance testing services in Mountain View, Calif., appears to be equally blown away by the wonder of it all.

    BlazeMeter recently launched something it calls FollowMe, a cloud-based performance testing platform that it says is a big deal because it obviates the laborious process of writing scripts. FollowMe is based on Apache’s JMeter open source performance testing tool, which raises a fairly obvious question: If I can use JMeter for free, why do I need FollowMe?

    I asked that question in a recent email interview with Girmonsky, and he said there’s a lot that you can’t do with JMeter alone.

    “BlazeMeter is compatible with JMeter the same way GitHub is compatible with Git. BlazeMeter reads the JMeter script,” he said. “But the rest, things like scalability, reporting, and hundreds of other features, are not possible with just JMeter.”

    Girmonsky explained that four years ago, when they came up with the idea of being compatible with JMeter, they wanted the user to be able to continue using open source, while taking advantage of the strength of a commercial product. “We were looking to create a product that could easily compete with what were the then market leaders, like HP LoadRunner,” he said.

    “By becoming compatible with JMeter, users can use JMeter on their own until they need something stronger,” Girmonsky said. “At that point, they usually come to us. With BlazeMeter they leverage their existing scripts, however, they get a stronger platform that saves them weeks to months of time, and provides them with features that are not available by just using JMeter.”

    I asked Girmonsky if he could elaborate on the value-add that BlazeMeter offers on top of JMeter, and he encapsulated it this way:

    • Recording. JMeter uses a proxy that is very complicated to set up, while BlazeMeter provides seamless recording from any device.
    • Scalability. Although it’s easy to run JMeter with a test of 100 concurrent users, it’s very hard to run a 5,000 concurrent user test. Using BlazeMeter makes it possible to run a test that simulates a million concurrent users.
    • Reporting, archiving, and comparison. Reporting is very important—testing adds little value without proper reporting. JMeter is able to generate the raw data, however, users need to create the reports themselves. BlazeMeter provides the reporting, archiving and report comparison.
    • Integration. BlazeMeter not only saves weeks to months of work, but  provides out-of-the-box integration with all of the leading development environments, including Jenkins, New Relic, Cloud Watch, TeamCity and Bamboo.

    Interestingly, BlazeMeter positions itself strictly as a back-end testing company. According to Surace at Appvance, that’s a problem.

    “Who would want to still test like we did 20 years ago, when we had no client-side code? The answer is, small developers with no budget and no knowledge of what they are doing. And it leads to app failure,” Surace said. “It’s bad practice. Real companies don’t launch consumer-facing or inside-facing apps without testing all of their code—client side and server side—at  load and stress with known use cases.”

    Girmonsky didn’t buy it.

    “BlazeMeter supports API, Web and mobile testing for all modern protocols and standards,” he said. “With BlazeMeter, users can easily simulate any protocol as part of any scenario over secured and non-secured mediums, while emulating any device over any mobile network. These are the standards for today’s performance testing vendors.”

    A contributing writer on IT management and career topics with IT Business Edge since 2009, Don Tennant began his technology journalism career in 1990 in Hong Kong, where he served as editor of the Hong Kong edition of Computerworld. After returning to the U.S. in 2000, he became Editor in Chief of the U.S. edition of Computerworld, and later assumed the editorial directorship of Computerworld and InfoWorld. Don was presented with the 2007 Timothy White Award for Editorial Integrity by American Business Media, and he is a recipient of the Jesse H. Neal National Business Journalism Award for editorial excellence in news coverage. Follow him on Twitter @dontennant.

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