By Francis Chu  |  Posted 2004-06-07 Print this article Print

Compuware Corp.s latest load-testing suite, QACenter Performance Edition 5.1, is a good choice for enterprises looking for a flexible set of Web load- and stress-testing tools.
QACenter Performance Edition 5.1, which was released last month and runs on Microsoft Corp.s Windows XP, 2000, 2003 or NT 4.0, is priced starting at $45,000 for 100 virtual users. Compuware also offers a flexible licensing scheme that lets companies set up license pools. This approach allows different groups within the same organization to share licenses and virtual users for testing multiple applications.

Like the new version of Segue Software Inc.s SilkPerformer, Version 5.1 of QACenter Performance Edition adds support for testing Citrix environments. QACenter 5.1 also improves its support for SAP AGs Web Application Server 6.2.

During eWEEK Labs tests, QACenter Performance Edition provided strong data reporting capabilities, but we found the main interface to be less than user-friendly compared with the other products we tested.

The heart of QACenter Performance Edition is the QALoad testing suite, which includes the Script Development Workbench for generating, compiling and editing C++-based test scripts. Once we compiled our scripts, we used QALoads Conductor and Player components to test our application systems.

Although recording and setting up new test scripts was straightforward using Script Development Workbench, a lack of wizards or configuration tools makes the process more complex than it should be for first-time users.

QALoad Conductor controls all testing activities, analyzes results and provides test reports. QALoad Player modules, which simulate users, can be installed on multiple systems. System hardware will determine how many users can be simulated, with a limit of 1,024 virtual users per Player-loaded system. In tests, we liked the ability to toggle virtual-user loads and use a dial on the interface that allowed us to "turn up" the test load to gauge the effectiveness of a test script quickly.

We also appreciated the reporting capabilities of QALoad Analyze. The applications interface provides a split-window viewing pane with a drop-down menu that let us quickly browse graphs and report data. We could drag and drop performance counters to quickly correlate data from our tests.

QALoad Analyze provides a set of predefined reports so that testers can see results without doing a lot of data manipulation. We could easily create custom reports using XML, HTML and XSL (Extensible Stylesheet Language).

Compuwares File-AID/CS data management tool is included with QACenter Performance Edition. File-AID/CS is a useful tool that can help developers reduce the complexity of data preparation and ease the daunting task of managing large amounts of test data in testing environments.

After some initial setup to configure data parameters, File-AID/CS let us quickly track and compare our testing databases. We could roll back a database to its original state after testing, saving time during testing cycles. Technical Analyst Francis Chu can be reached at francis_chu@ziffdavis.com.

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