Great Mobile Moments Depend on Back-End and Front-End Testing
July 11, 2016

Eran Kinsbruner
Perfecto

Will your mobile app work in your customer's moment of need in an instant?

Mobile users only have one or two seconds of patience for an app to display the requested information before leaving the app. This means the complex trip – from app tap, to call to the back-end service, to call to the database and then back to the app – must happen in a moment. As a result, it's imperative that developers ensure that users experience a seamless "mobile moment."

For example last month I missed game 7 of the NBA semi-finals between the Golden State Warriors and the Oklahoma City Thunder. The next day, I wanted to see the game highlights, so I opened up my mobile browser to ESPN.com. It was apparent that I wasn't the only one doing this, as the video replay took longer to load than usual.

So, what happens in that mobile moment? Many communication roundtrips between my smartphone and the ESPN servers just to get me to the ESPN.com homepage. When you consider the latency overhead of a single HTTP request, on 3G it could take up to 3.6 seconds just to start a homepage. On LTE, it takes one second.

Things also get worse when mobile traffic spikes and the back-end is loaded. Golden State's game 7 win was epic, but if you tried to watch the replay in near real-time, ESPN.com was slow because their servers had high user load at that time.

Sluggish service response can increase user abandonment, because mobile users have become accustomed to speed. To stay ahead of these users, DevTest teams must put themselves in the users' shoes while testing mobile apps and websites.

Mobile Testing: Front and Back

Testing for the real user experience needs to include mobile app and back-end services being tested together against real world conditions, such as high user load and network condition changes. The ESPN scenario mentioned above was not a single point of failure; it was a combination of application, network and busy servers.

To truly validate the user experience, organizations need to ensure their apps work well when the audience needs it, even in the busiest of mobile moments. For example, the WatchESPN app outage during the 2014 World Cup is another example of back-end services falling short at a crucial mobile moment. The app crashed for US users during the beginning of the US and Germany match, due to unprecedented traffic related to a perfect storm of two soccer games and live Wimbledon coverage. The server coverage in the US was not prepared to handle abnormally high traffic for a soccer game.

As a result, companies need to test for these "perfect storm" scenarios and have a plan in place for when servers reach capacity. Proper back-end testing will benefit teams in two key ways:

■ Knowing the point when the back-end services become sluggish allows teams to have more servers (or virtual servers) on standby. In addition, plan to re-route network traffic through servers in another country where there is more bandwidth. Either way, it's imperative that a contingency plan is set in place.

■ Being aware of bandwidth limits and utilizing that data to update users with alerts, such as "Due to high demand, our service is down. Try back in 10 minutes." or "Your Wi-Fi network may not have adequate bandwidth for our service. Try switching to an LTE network." While circumstances may cause frustration, it's important to engage with users and provide information updates.

It's just as critical to test the back-end services of an app as the front-end. There are many products on the market that simulate user load on back-end services, while simultaneously seeing how the app performs under real world load conditions. In addition, developers should also run user condition tests (switching network conditions, background apps) on the front-end while using service virtualization tools, to ensure back-end services are just as busy.

As mobile users consume more multimedia and IoT services, testing back-end services for user load spikes will be key for delivering the best mobile moments.

Eran Kinsbruner is Mobile Technical Evangelist for Perfecto Mobile.

The Latest

February 21, 2017

The stakes are high for preventing security compromises: 72.7 percent of companies have a custom application that, if it were to experience downtime, would significantly impact the organization’s ability to operate, according to the Custom Applications and IaaS Report 2017 ...

February 16, 2017

Developers and testing professionals intend to speed up build deployment times even further — as 28 percent of those surveyed say they want to deploy hourly (up from 18 percent in 2016) — according to an independent survey, Testing Trends in 2017: A Survey of Software Professionals ...

February 14, 2017

Everybody loves DevOps. In fact, DevOps is the hottest date in IT. That's because DevOps promises to satisfy the deepest longings of digital business — including fast execution on innovative ideas, competitively differentiated customer experiences, and significantly improved operational efficiencies ...

February 13, 2017

Integration is no longer your IT department’s problem; it is everyone’s problem. With the IoT, APIs, blockchain and chatbots thrown into the mix, everyone needs to integrate with everything. And this is leading to companies who are partnering with integration vendors to ensure their success as they adopt these, and other disrupting technologies, in the future ...

February 09, 2017

If you're thinking about implementing Application Release Automation (ARA), here are some tips to get started ...

February 07, 2017

IT leaders need to be able to manage application development at scale using a factory metaphor that requires lots of instrumentation. The challenge is that, in the case of applications, the actual products being manufactured consist of as much art and craft as they do science. Optimizing the application release cycle requires adding a layer of software abstraction above and around the application development process that serves to make the overall process more efficient without adding more friction ...

February 03, 2017

While DevOps and continuous delivery models can (in theory) accelerate technology projects and help them run more smoothly and predictably, the required cultural realignment can prevent companies from reaping the full benefits. Developing and executing an effective strategy means shifting how teams collaborate and interoperate — and we all know how everyone loves change. Here are four steps that enterprise IT leaders are undertaking to facilitate the cultural adaptation and collaboration required to maintain IT and business agility ...

February 01, 2017

The concept of intent-based security is a new way of looking at applications, specifically those in a containerized environment, down to the application level and adding in extra security. It uses the power of the developer in order to produce a more predictable and secure environment that can be enforced. When it comes to DevOps and containers, the unique nature of the process and technology allows the intent-based security model to capitalize on three pillars ...

January 30, 2017

Agile software development methods were introduced less than a decade ago, but their popularity has seen a steady rise. However, according to Zephyr's annual How the World Tests report, while a large number of the companies are adopting agile testing methodologies, they face a fair number of obstacles in successful adoption. Here, we’ll cover the key findings of that report and what they mean for those looking to adopt an agile testing process ...

January 27, 2017

"DevOps" may not appear on most enterprises' organizational charts, yet it's having a significant impact on the design of their IT architectures, driving the rise of the low code development, and permanently re-shaping the roles and responsibilities of IT organizations ...

Share this