App Performance Testing Tool Boasts Modularity

New offering from Embarcadero Technologies promises a shorter learning curve and lower cost.

Embarcadero Technologies Inc. on Monday will try to elbow its way into the applications load testing space with a new offering that promises a shorter learning curve and lower cost.

The San Francisco company, which created a loyal following of database tools users among the Fortune 500, hopes to take its place among Segue, IBMs Rational, Radview and Mercury Interactive with its new Extreme Test applications performance testing tool.

The tool is unique in its modularity. All test components—including analysis, scripting, reporting and generation of virtual users—are done within a single workbench, rather than requiring users to buy and learn separate modules. And users from multiple workbenches can access the same server and single repository, allowing greater collaboration, according to Nate Skinner, product manager for the tool in Littleton, Colo.

"All device configurations on any number of infrastructure components are stored in the database, so you can reuse test assets. And results from a test that comes back persists in the data store, so you could take one performance statistic and measure it between one test run and another," said Skinner. For example, the same statistics could be used to compare performance between Oracle 8i and 9i, he added.

Embarcadero also leveraged its expertise in database performance to bring a unique database stress testing component to the tool, allowing users to simulate 1000 database connections all performing SQL queries.

Extreme Test takes a goals-based approach to performance modeling and load testing by allowing thresholds and other parameters to be set on a test so that the outcome meets defined requirements. That can shorten testing time by aborting a test once a threshold is exceeded. "You can save yourself of going through a 24-hour test when you find a problem 10 hours into it. It lets you know the place where the thresholds are exceeded," described Skinner.

The J2EE-based tool was designed "to be affordable and to reduce (Total Cost of Ownership) in price and in the fact that you can use commodity hardware, reuse tests, and so on. For example, engines that generate loads for testing can be set up to run on any available platform thats not in use. Those platforms can include a user desktop during off hours, or a data server or Linux server. In addition, the tool ships with a data repository at no extra charge. Repositories can run on SQL Server, Sybase or Oracle databases.

Extreme Test—made up of a load model editor, user model editor, database load generator, performance analysis engine, integrated relational repository and universal workbench—uses Wizard-driven interfaces to simplify complex tasks. The graphical interface allows user load simulations to be developed without scripting.

Although final pricing has not yet been set, Embarcadero is targeting its pricing to be 20 percent less than existing competitors. Starting prices are expected to be $35,000 for all components, including 500 virtual users and no limit on the number of protocols to be tested.