App Testing Goes Modular

Affordability, ease key in Embarcadero's Extreme Test.

Embarcadero Technologies Inc. hopes to elbow its way into the applications load testing arena with a new offering that promises a shorter learning curve and lower cost.

The San Francisco vendor, which created a loyal following of database tool users among the Fortune 500, hopes to take its place among Segue Software Inc., IBM Rational and Mercury Interactive Corp. with its Extreme Test applications performance testing tool.

Company officials said Extreme Test is unique in its modularity. All test components, including analysis, scripting, reporting and generation of virtual users, is done in one place, rather than requiring users to buy and learn separate modules. And users can access the same server and a single repository for greater collaboration, said 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 persist 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 Corp.s Oracle8i and Oracle9i.

Embarcadero also leveraged its expertise in database performance to bring a database stress testing component to the tool, allowing users to simulate up to 1,000 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 so the outcome meets requirements. That can shorten testing time by aborting a test once a threshold is exceeded. "You can save yourself from 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," said Skinner.

The tool, based on Java 2 Platform, Enterprise Edition, was designed to be affordable and to allow use of commodity hardware and reusable tests, officials said. Engines that generate loads for testing can be set up to run on any platform, including a user desktop during off-hours, a data server or Linux server. The tool ships with a data repository at no extra charge.

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

Although final pricing has not yet been set, Embarcadero is targeting its pricing at 20 percent less than that of 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.