A Day in the Life of the New Performance Engineer

My name is Henrik Rexed, Partner Solution Evangelist at Neotys and performance engineer by title. On the topic of performance engineering, I know there’s been a lot of talk about the ‘new’ role, and how it’s evolved from the days of the Performance Tester. I can personally attest to this evolution as my role has changed dramatically over the last ten years. However, I know I am not alone. And, the Partner Advocate in me recognizes that this idea of performance engineering may be a little unclear, especially if yours is an organization who has not completed adopted Agile and DevOps principles and practices. I’d like to take this time to share my firsthand view of what a performance engineer is, and what they may be thinking in today’s world.

Back in the day, I was only involved during the latter stages of the project lifecycle where I would work diligently to be as much a useful part of the whole project as possible. In this world, it was about applying the most realistic load against the application. The objective was to provide sufficient system tuning to allow the project leader to deliver the application into production. Many times during this process, however, especially after delivering my task, I had to demonstrate to the project manager(s) why it was not advised to go into production with the current release of the application. I would find myself enduring a constant struggle with an inability to effectively influence the organization. Far too often this resulted in project deployment into production despite project management awareness of the issues I had uncovered during my end-stage testing.

In many instances, the inevitable poor performance of an issue-prone application in production could be traced back to improper code design. It was at that point the project manager’s workaround plan called for a new version of the re-designed code. Sure, we had the Cloud at our fingertips, which helped revolutionize our working style, but no one could imagine that a project would run a load test with more than 2K users then. I can remember the team celebrations over a 1K VU run against a CRM platform.

Today, running a test with more than 10 KVU is standard. Fact, a test with >1 million VUs against a system at one time doesn’t concern me at all the way it used to. A 1M VU test using on-premise load generator(s) would have been unthinkable yesterday – who would manage the installation of all those load generators? The ease with which we can prepare 600 machines for testing in less than 10 minutes is normal today. I thank AWS, Rackspace, Google Cloud, and everyone else who has helped me deliver meaningful milestone tasks without crippling the organization with heavy cost and long project implementation timelines.

As my years have added up commensurate with responsibility expansion, my job has become more exciting and rewarding. I am a much more well-rounded, marketable professional. Given that my sphere of influence is no longer limited to testing, tuning, and optimizing my company has also learned to rely more on me. In turn, I feel I play a larger role in the success of the organization – helping the development team with technical testing requirements and monitoring strategy.

Suffice it to say; no project is taking on the risk of delivery into production without proper testing design, execution, and analysis when performance engineers are enabled and involved. It also helps that automation has become so available and powerful – a closet obsession of mine. I’m sure I speak for others when I say that the performance engineer’s wants are simple when it comes to setting the team up for success:

  • Test the main components DURING the build process
  • Handle project maintenance AUTOMATICALLY
  • Adapt load policy CONTINUOUSLY based on observations gleaned through regular monitoring

The Neotys Performance Advisory Council is Born!

The preceding was just a sliver of what we think a typical performance engineer is likely to be feeling today. With the proliferation of this “new” role over the last few years, Neotys continues to see an increase in the number of PE titles represented in customer and prospect engagements. These pioneers are not only a metaphor for the industry sophistication; performance engineers are crucial evangelists of collective performance “ownership” needed for companies to gain a competitive advantage.

In recognition of the role, value, and increased number of contacts that currently comprise the performance engineering fraternity, Neotys has created a venue for collaboration, idea sharing, and ultimately, the content creation that all of its users can benefit from.

Learn More

For more information about the Neotys Performance Advisory Council, the expert panel, and upcoming PAC conference schedule, click here.

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