IT Focus Area: strategy
July 31, 2014
Mitigate Risks Before You Launch with Proper Application Performance Testing
“If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?"
This is a famous quote from Hall of Fame basketball coach John Wooden. It is a great reminder that short-cutting critical deployment steps can be costly to the successful launch of an application.
When it comes to major application upgrades, some companies take the approach “let’s launch and see what happens” or “we don’t have time for this.” This can be embarrassing at best, catastrophic at worst.
Take last year’s dismal failure of Healthcare.gov. Management was insistent on meeting a specific go-live date without understanding the risks of having spent too little time on testing. The result was a website unprepared to handle the onslaught of demand. The impact: negative press coverage, frustrated users, loss of political capital by the Obama Administration, the resignation of the “chief information officer,” and re-architecture and testing costing an additional $121 million on top of the original $90 million.
What This Means for Your Applications
Every environment has its own threshold for failure based on multiple factors: criticality of business processes; interfaces to related systems; number and geographical distribution of users; and complexity of infrastructure. Complex systems such as enterprise resource planning (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM), claims processing, and supply-chain management, are more vulnerable to incidents and can inflict greater damage as a result of degraded performance or availability. According a study by the Aberdeen Group, the average cost of downtime for corporations can run to $164,000 per hour. Brand reputation and a company’s bottom line can be seriously tarnished if a retail website falters on Cyber Monday or a payroll company is unable to process thousands of its clients’ paychecks on time.
What’s the Solution?
Organizations should perform proper performance testing before going live. This specialized testing requires skilled professionals who know how to define the right tests based on the application’s target load and usage patterns; how to monitor the infrastructure’s resources; how to analyze response times and correlate them with resource utilizations; and how to communicate actionable results and a prescription for health to the multiple stakeholders.
While there are many inexpensive “do it yourself” tools available in the marketplace today, critical applications require performance engineers who can generate objective, data-supported observations and recommendations. This proper due diligence will help raise the confidence level of senior IT leaders that an application is ready to launch. Hiring a business partner that can ensure application performance testing is done right the first time can help your company prevent an embarrassing and costly outcome.