Best Practices

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PureLoad 5.3
April 2016
http://www.pureload.com
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Documentation Index

Runtime Configuration

The PureLoad runtime can be configured in many ways. A common and recommended configuration for larger load tests are as follows:


Worker Threads

The number of worker threads which you can effectively use per worker depends on the capacity of your hardware and which OS you use. In general, modern server OS:es (for example Linux and Windows Server editions) have better threading capabilities compared to a desktop OS (such as Windows XP).

But in addition it also depends on:

So, to find out how many worker threads you can run in your environment, the best is to start out with a low number of threads and monitor the workers during execution. From this point of view you should check the CPU usage and make sure it stays below 90% most of the time.

Realistic Testing

It is important to understand that using a load test tool you are always simulating load. It is not real users doing real work accessing your servers under test. So what is a realistic test? This depends on several factors, but our suggestion in general is that you should look at the goals and requirements you have on your system.

Depending on the system under test, it might be a useful simulation to focus on requests per second, instead of trying to simulate real clients. In other cases you really have to simulate real clients as close as possible. The following gives some hints on what you should consider in these cases.

Scenario Design

If you want to simulate "real" users, the scenarios executed by each worker thread must simulate how a real user would access the server application. This means using realistic data (see below) and include "wait (or think) times" in the scenario, using SleepTask and RandomSleepTask. When you have a scenario like this, one worker thread will correspond to one simulated virtual client.

You probably also want to use several scenarios simulating different users doing different things.

Data

Using realistic data is essential in trying to simulate real clients. It is not enough to use a recorded (using the HTTP recorder) scenario. Repeating the same requests, with the same values will most likely produce unrealistic response values.

Instead you have to use dynamically generated values, using parameter generators, generating data for different user accounts etc.

Bandwidth

A user connecting at 100Mbps through a local network and a user connecting with DSL connection might not have the same impact on the server. In PureLoad, the simulated bandwidth may be limited by using the HttpInitTask.

IP Addresses

When testing a web application, using different IP addresses is normally not required. But for example if load balancers is used, they might use the client IP address to balance the load over several servers. In this case you have to make sure you simulate access from different IP addresses.

If many IP addresses are required, it is possible to configure several virtual IP addresses on the worker hosts. The HTTP tasks (and most of the network related tasks) in PureLoad supports defining which IP address to use. This means that you can simulate different IP address using the same worker host. For massive amount of IP addresses, there is a custom Linux kernel module available which uses Source Network Address Translation (SNAT) to change the source IP address on-the-fly. This SNAT kernel module is currently only available for Linux.

Read more about virtual IP addresses, IP Pool tasks and SNAT in the Virtual IP Address Reference and the Linux SNAT Kernel Module documents.

Long/Large Test Execution

When running a load test in PureLoad over a long time (say a weekend) you should be aware of:

With this in mind, we suggest that you check the following in the Console Tool Properties before you start the execution:

General / Update Interval
Set this to something like 10 minutes (600 seconds).
General / Max Time Slots
Make sure that the number of time slots are not too high (more than 1000).
Workers / Report Worker Thread Information
De-select this setting.
Workers / Logging, Log Size
Set this to Error.
Workers / Persistence
Enabling this might be useful if the worker still (for some reason) run out of resources.

Massive Session Testing

Massive testing, using many thousands of simulated clients, where the scenario initiates and keeps a session alive (for example an HTTP session, using cookies), the default model where each worker thread corresponds to one native thread sets a limit. Read more about Worker Threads above.

For certain scenarios where the main focus is to test a massive amount of sessions performing infrequent operations, the thread limitation can be avoided by using the Worker Threading mode Multi. Running in this mode, the worker will execute multiple worker threads for each native thread.

Consider the following scenario showing a simple use-case of some web based application:

massive scenario

Let us say that we want to simulate how 100,000 users use the application during the course of a day. The average user logs in in the morning between 8:00 AM and 9:00 AM and then makes a search every other hour and finally logs out at the end of the day. The sleep task prior to searching is set to sleep randomly for zero to two hours. The second sleep task simulates think time and is set to 5 - 10 seconds.  This means that the server will receive 100,000 login requests randomly distributed over one hour - about 30 logins per second. The rest of the day it will receive about 30 searches per second and 30 view product requests per second. In this example, the server can easily handle these requests and the response times are near zero.

Using native threads would require somewhere around 30 to 100 machines to execute this scenario. Since the amount of actual requests per second is never more than about 60 per second, it should be enough with a single worker machine if it could handle the amount of threads. This is where the Worker Threading mode Multi comes in. We set up a worker with 100,000 threads configured to use Threading Multi with a ratio of 1000 and a delay of 3600:

massive worker

This means that the worker will use 100 native threads. The delay is set to 3600 to match that the users log in during one hour. Each worker thread will start with going to sleep for 0 to 3600 seconds. This gives the 100 native threads enough time to execute the 30 logins per second. It is important that the search/view loop contains a substantial amount of sleep task(s) (one hour in average in this case) to allow the Threading Multi mode enough time to schedule the worker threads properly.

Using Threading Multi requires careful thought. Resources are easily exhausted when the numbers are hundreds of thousands. The worker will log a warning message if it detects that it fails to execute the tasks in the correct rate:

14:17:41 [WARN] 10.10.10.36.Worker0.Thread0 Product Catalog/Search Product execution lag: 12362 [ms]

In the above example, the server response times were low. Had the Search Product request instead had a response time of 0.5 seconds, it would be difficult to generate 60 requests per second with 100 native threads and it would be necessary to increase the number of machines somewhat, but still no way near the 30 - 100 machines required using native threads.

PureLoad and Firewalls

PureLoad uses RMI (Java Remote Method Invocation) for internal communication between servers and the console and by default there is no control over the ports being used by RMI, which makes it hard to open up communication when firewalls are used.

There are however System Properties to control all ports being used, and hence allow communication through firewalls.

Example

As an example, let us say that we have a network where the Console is being used from another network than the servers and the networks are separated by a firewall:


In this case we need to open up the firewall to allow communication from the console to the servers. We do this by first defining the system properties for each server:

Naming and Taskspace
naming.port=1099
naming.service.port=60002
taskspace.port=60003
taskspace.service.port=60004

Worker Manager 1
manager.port=60005
manager.service.port=60008

Worker Manager 2
manager.port=60007
manager.service.port=60008

The actual ports used can be any ports, with the exception of the naming.port that must match the PureLoad license.

Now you can open the ports 1099 and 60002-60008 in the firewall and communication will work as expected.

NAT

If NAT (Network Address Translation) is used, you also have to make sure the servers expose their remote IP address (i.e the address used outside the firewall) used to contact the servers. Use the external.host property for this.

If we in the example above must use IP address 192.168.100.126 to reach Worker Manager 1, we simply specify:

external.host=192.168.100.126

in the pureload.properties file for the manager.



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