Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Volume Testing

Volume Testing belongs to the group of non-functional tests, which are often misunderstood and/or used interchangeably. Volume testing refers to testing a software application for a certain data volume. This volume can in generic terms be the database size or it could also be the size of an interface file that is the subject of volume testing. For example, if you want to volume test your application with a specific database size, you will explode your database to that size and then test the application's performance on it.

Another example could be when there is a requirement for your application to interact with an interface file (could be any file such as .dat, .xml); this interaction could be reading and/or writing on to/from the file. You will create a sample file of the size you want and then test the application's functionality with that file to check performance. As volume testing can be introduced almost anywhere, from component testing to user acceptance testing, the range of people who can undertake it is similarly large.

Developers through to customers and end-users can do it. The testing may be outsourced to a testing lab, which specialises in performance testing.
How to Use Volume Testing. Volume testing needs two things. Firstly clear expected outcomes of how the software is to behave for a given level of data. Secondly, data, and lots of it.The expected behaviour at various levels, should be in the specification documentation. Ideally this will say something like "the customers details will be returned returned on the screen within 3 seconds, from a database with 1 million customer records." This gives the tester a benchmark to base a test case on.

The second requirement for data, needs either real life data, or simulated data. Usually, real life data will come in the form of a customer database, that has had private information, such as names and account numbers scrambled. Alternatively records can be created from scratch using automated tools or by adding rules directly on to the database, with SQL.
As with all testing, proper records must be kept showing the inputs, outputs other information, to aid potential debugging and audit purposes.

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