Baseline? Benchmark?

[Me] : - What’s the difference between Baseline and Benchmarking with respect to performance testing?

[Guruji]:-Creating a baseline is the process of running a set of tests to capture performance metric data for the purpose of evaluating the effectiveness of subsequent performance-improving changes to the system or application. A critical aspect of a baseline is that all characteristics and configuration options except those specifically being varied for comparison must remain invariant.

With respect to Web applications, you can use a baseline to determine whether performance is improving or declining and to find deviations across different builds and versions. For example, you could measure load time, the number of transactions processed per unit of time, the number of Web pages served per unit of time, and resource utilization such as memory usage and processor usage. Some considerations about using baselines include:

A baseline can be created for a system, component, or application. A baseline can also be created for different layers of the application, including a database, Web services, and so on.

A baseline can set the standard for comparison, to track future optimizations or regressions. It is important to validate that the baseline results are repeatable, because considerable fluctuations may occur across test results due to environment and workload characteristics.

Baselines can help identify changes in performance. Baselines can help product teams identify changes in performance that reflect degradation or optimization over the course of the development life cycle. Identifying these changes in comparison to a well-known state or configuration often makes resolving performance issues simpler.

Baselines assets should be reusable. Baselines are most valuable if they are created by using a set of reusable test assets. It is important that such tests accurately simulate repeatable and actionable workload characteristics.

Baselines are metrics. Baseline results can be articulated by using a broad set of key performance indicators, including response time, processor capacity, memory usage, disk capacity, and network bandwidth.

Baselines act as a shared frame of reference. Sharing baseline results allows your team to build a common store of acquired knowledge about the performance characteristics of an application or component.

Avoid over-generalizing your baselines. If your project entails a major reengineering of the application, you need to reestablish the baseline for testing that application. A baseline is application-specific and is most useful for comparing performance across different versions. Sometimes, subsequent versions of an application are so different that previous baselines are no longer valid for comparisons.

Know your application’s behavior. It is a good idea to ensure that you completely understand the behavior of the application at the time a baseline is created. Failure to do so before making changes to the system with a focus on optimization objectives is frequently counterproductive.

Baselines evolve. At times you will have to redefine your baseline because of changes that have been made to the system since the time the baseline was initially captured.

Benchmarking is the process of comparing your system’s performance against a baseline that you have created internally or against an industry standard. In the case of a Web application, you would run a set of tests that comply with the specifications of an industry benchmark in order to capture the performance metrics necessary to determine your application’s benchmark score. You can then compare your application against other systems or applications that also calculated their score for the same benchmark. You may choose to tune your application performance to achieve or surpass a certain benchmark score. Some considerations about benchmarking include:

You need to play by the rules. A benchmark is achieved by working with industry specifications or by porting an existing implementation to meet such standards. Benchmarking entails identifying all of the necessary components that will run together, the market where the product exists, and the specific metrics to be measured.

Because you play by the rules, you can be transparent. Benchmarking results can be published to the outside world. Since comparisons may be produced by your competitors, you will want to employ a strict set of standard approaches for testing and data to ensure reliable results.

You divulge results across various metrics. Performance metrics may involve load time, number of transactions processed per unit of time, Web pages accessed per unit of time, processor usage, memory usage, search times, and so on

Vinay Jagtap

A hard core Technocrat with over a decade of extensive experience in heading complex test projects coupled with real time experience of project management and thought leadership. Extensive experience in Performance, Security and Automation Testing and development of automation frameworks and ability to setup and execute Global service centers and Center of Excellences for testing.

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