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Volumetric Analysis

There are many tools available to report on volumetric information for an applic
ation or a website.

Depending on the application the volumetric information may be available through
a nice, easy to use application or only via the output of a system log which ma
y only be able to be analysed by writing a program to process the file. Ive done
it both ways, the advantage of a proper tool is that it is quicker to use and i
nformation can be checked and cross referenced for a high degree of accuracy. S
ystem log files which are not designed to provide volumetric information can als
o provide a high degree of accuracy, you just have to be prepared to spend more
time doing it.
When carrying out volumetric analysis, it can be tackled in a number of ways, he
re is one approach I like to use, although of course, circumstances can dictate
that variations will be necessary on occasions.
1) Identify peak month, peak week, peak day and peak hour workloads in terms of
concurrent users and pages hits.
This is appropriate when an application has smooth peaks and troughs where the w
orkload slowly builds up during a period, peaks and gradually declines back to t
he trough. Some applications may have 2 or 3 peaks and troughs through the cour
se of the day. Some applications, and a ticket agency is a good example, have e
xtreme peaks that may last an hour or so - for instance when tickets for a popul
ar band go on sale at 9:00am on a Friday morning and the site is inundated with
requests.

2) Identify the highest volume page displays for the peak hour identified.
Often the highest volume page will be the home page which is often the landing p
age. This is not always the case, for instance, when searching for a news item,
a user may go via the search engine directly to the page of interest, bypassing
the homepage altogether.
3) Analyse the highest volume page displays and try to determine how those func
tional areas are used. The objective is to attempt to build user journeys or bu
siness flows.
4) Not all functionality can be automated, however, it is important to use the a
utomation available to generate peak hour page hits for all functions. This may
mean that peak hour volumes for some pages exceed what occurs in reality but wi
ll mean that the overall workload in terms of numbers matches the observed appli
cation peaks. Update and search functions can be heavy resource users so it can
often be an idea to take an enquiry type function with an average resource usag
e and increase the workload disproportionately fo that one function. A table may
help explain:
Function Page Hits Prod Page Hits Performance Test
Function 1 2500 2500
Function 2 2500 2500
Function 3 2500 2500
Function 4 2500 2500
Function 5 2500 2500
Function 6 2500 11,500
Functions not automated 9,000
Total Page Hits 24,000 24000

In this example, automation has accounted for 15,000 of the 24,000 page hits see
n in the peak hour, Function 6 is an enquiry function and that is being run at a
much higher volume than it does in production, 11,500 hits in the peak hour rat
her than 2,500. This may cause a skewing of results and you must be careful to
watch out for artificial bottlenecks, but on the whole it is the best way to per
formance test the peak workload your application will have to support.
Omniture is a common tool used by many companies for measuring traffic to a webs
ite. It is highly configurable and can be implemented in many different ways.
Core functionality includes:
Visitors reports the number of unique visitors as well as the total number of vi
sits to a website
Page Hits - reports on the pages displayed to users and the number of times each
page was presented
Landing Page the landing page is the term used for the first page the visitor se
es when they first arrive on the website. Landing pages can be varied depending
on how the site is indexed and will not necessarily be the home page
Visitor Path reports on common sequences of pages displayed to user, e.g. home p
age search product select product from search results