You Are Not Your Customer – Why Application Performance Differs at the Customer End
Testing of a web application pre-release is usually done in a simulated environment believed to represent the likely condition of the customer. A predefined testing specification outlines the minimum requirements of the system that need to be fulfilled for acceptable web application performance. These minimum requirements could include the base operating system, RAM, storage, CPU, and connectivity specifications.
Quality assurance teams use equipment and infrastructure to test the web application under the minimum requirements specified. Required testing methodologies are adhered to while the testing is done. But it’s not unusual for consumers to complain about application performance when they start using it. Why is that?
Unfortunately, the reality is that this in-house or laboratory testing is merely a simulation of the environment based on the specified minimum systems requirements. Once released in the LIVE or actual environment of the customers, all sorts of errors and challenges begin to crop up that affect the overall performance of the web application.
The poor web application performance could be due to various reasons such as latency, system performance, hosting configurations, connectivity, memory usage, etc., of the actual end user environment, which might not have got tested pre-release.
To that end, monitoring tools and technologies must be introduced into the pre-release testing process to simulate end-user conditions.
Application Performance Challenges
Connectivity, Bandwidth, and Latency
The network performance being leveraged by the end-user plays a role in the performance of a web application. Poor connectivity, reduced bandwidth, and low latency could severely impact the user experience while using the web application.
Therefore, the web application architecture should consider measures to adapt to sub-optimum connectivity in its design so that the app mitigates connectivity fluctuations in the best possible way.
Servers, Firewalls, Databases, and Configurations
The heart of the web application is on the server side. Low-speed servers, misconfiguration of DNS, VPNs, and firewalls are just some of the examples which could hamper web application performance at the user end. Connectivity at the server side with the database servers could also result in the reduced speed of interactivity and data at the user end.
Companies often use shared servers instead of dedicated servers to host their web-based applications. The processing power of shared hosting is distributed across several web applications, which could mean that the web application does not get the required server performance for the expected customer experience. Also, system configurations and management are not in the hands of the web application owners.
A dedicated server is recommended for web application hosting to ensure the optimum performance of the web application. To that end, real-time monitoring tools can be used to find out exactly why the web application is slow or crashing.
Network and Application Load Balancer
Whether on a shared server or a dedicated, load balancing has to be corrected and configured when a pool of servers is being used. Network traffic has to be monitored and distributed across servers to ensure that end users get the best server-side performance.
High-performance servers may be deployed for the hosting of the web application, but if load balancing is not done correctly, efficiency drops dramatically, hampering the performance of the web application at the end-user level.
Synthetic monitoring software allows for monitoring the performance of a web application at a particular time and location. Data collected from such software can assist enterprises in fine-tuning the performance of a web application.
Caching is the technique of preserving frequently used data and other operations performed by the end users such that it can be directly accessed without a complete server-client cycle. Caching techniques can be used for entities such as networks, databases, HTTP requests, and proxies.
The need for using caching is realized only once the loading on the network, the servers, and the number of end-users increases significantly. Application performance can be significantly increased if caching techniques are adopted in the early design and development stages.
Sophisticated tools and technologies are now available to monitor the browser-based performance of a web application, giving adequate insight as to the reasons for real-time performance drops of a web application.
Often, there could be a sudden increase in traffic on the server due to unexpected usage and the number of logged-on users at a particular time. This could dramatically affect the speed of the servers and result in poor web application performance during that period. This usually happens during sales and promotion campaigns and holidays.
Legacy Systems, Badly Written Code, and Poorly Designed Databases
Regardless of servers and connectivity, if an application has been poorly written, the performance of the application will be dismal. Faulty algorithms, memory leaks, and incorrect error handling could harm the application’s performance. Bad coding practices, inadequate unit testing, and lack of code review could severely impact application performance once deployed.
Today, applications are all about the handling of data. If DB and SQL design is done incorrectly, the application will begin to slow down as usage and the number of users increases. Querying of data, session mismanagement, and bad SQL can cause significant harm to the performance of an application. If done incorrectly, legacy migration could also drag down the application’s performance.
Optimizing the application is highly recommended for poorly written code as it cannot be mitigated by infrastructure in the long run. In-depth analysis with monitoring software can be introduced into the quality assurance and deployment life cycle to detect the reasons for a downgrade of web application performance.
System Configuration and State of the Endpoint
The device or the endpoint on which the user runs the web application plays a significant role in its performance. If the endpoint is compromised and the system is misconfigured or running out of resources, then the web application’s performance can be hampered. The web application will run on different kinds of endpoints and configurations, and system configuration may play a significant role in the web application’s performance.
The Final Word
The more successful an application is, the more it will be loaded across different devices, and the more it will connect with different networks — exponentiating the data usage. A detailed strategy has to be put in place for this growth before the live deployment of the web application.
Click here to learn more about adopting an application performance monitoring strategy that helps you meet your user expectations always.