Starting to use Loadrunner as a performance validation platform changed the way I looked at load generation tools; previously I had extensively used JMeter. What follows are a list of the main benefits & points of using Loadrunner:
1. Loadrunner is an enterprise-grade tool: As the project team I worked on was split site we could share infrastructure over our projects. This was also beneficial as the application under test was geographically split.
2. Performance Center (a Software as a Service wrapper for Loadrunner) enabled the full performance suite, functionality and scripts to be available to every member of the team through a web interface. Of course, it’s not an uncompromised swiss army knife, but it still worth appreciation.
3. Loadrunner comes with an abundance of supported protocols. The range starts at most prevalent Web protocols, continues with Client/Server systems, Remote applications, Multimedia streaming and ends at supporting major ERP/CRM systems. Be warned though: Loadrunner is licensed not just per installation, but also per load capacity and the chosen supported protocols. Watch out! This can work out to be extremely expensive
4. The presence of Loadrunner in house is a clear indication that the customer views Performance Testing to be appropriately serious.
5. The learning curve of Loadrunner is relatively easy if you have experience in C/Java; tests can be implemented relatively quickly. There is no requirement to learn new programming languages, spend years studying bogus XML elements or be on wild goose chases with obscure GUI’s. You still write code, so you have control over things.
6. Full documentation of the C API’s at the touch of a button: You get it in the old-fashioned way. Windows help pages by pressing F1.
7. Potential sources of issues are easier to identify: Performance Center blends in resource utilization data (such as CPU or disk of the monitored system) and J2EE/.NET high-level profiling data, if you like. By integrating SiteScope you gain exposure to other counters exposed by the application under test (just think about JMX variables or .NET counters). The Loadrunner Analysis tool, which aggregates this data, presents diagrams and reports, offers help in correlation, and helps you build a better understanding of the whole application.
It’s not all beneficial though, Loadrunner has a number of items that I find frustrating. My next article will detail them.