The Impact of Microservice Architecture on Load Testing

Microservice Architecture (or, “microservices”) has slowly emerged in recent years as a go-to method for development teams to create fast and robust enterprise applications. Microservice Architecture breaks down complex tasks into smaller processes that operate independently and communicate through language-agnostic APIs. Typically a microservice is single task oriented. For example, one microservice component will authenticate a user to an application, while another may be responsible for conducting a search on data within the application.

Microservices are Autonomous

Microservices are also known to be autonomous. A well-designed microservice will carry its data store that is not shared among other services. Also, the behavior of a microservice will have no impact on the behavior of another. There will be no side effects.

This notion of autonomy carries over into the way microservices are created and maintained. A microservice is a standalone product with a distinct team. The team is usually made up of a product manager, project manager, one or more developers, test personnel and release engineers. Sometimes these roles are shared. What’s important to understand is that one team is entirely responsible for all aspects of microservice development and maintenance. This high degree of autonomy about technology and personnel increases the speed and efficiency of work done via microservice from within the software development lifecycle (SDLC).

Microservices in a Nutshell

  • Microservices can be broken down into multiple component services so that each can be built, tested, deployed, and redeployed independently – without compromising application integrity
  • Microservices are usually organized around delivering business capabilities and priorities, by  using cross-functional teams rather than handing off to specialists for related services (e.g., database, network infrastructure, server)
  • Microservice Architecture is an evolutionary design and is well suited for systems where you can’t fully anticipate the types of devices that may one day be accessing your application (e.g., services delivered to IoT devices)

Microservices are Represented by APIs

Unlike traditional applications in which UI, business logic, and data access are tightly integrated as layers within a single application, microservices are intended to stand alone, used by a variety of devices and applications – from a cell phone to web browser, to a device on the Internet of Things (IoT). Access to the given microservice, whether initiated by the device or other microservice, is conducted through APIs.

Figure 1: Unlike large monolithic applications, Microservice Architecture is single task focused and autonomous

Microservice Architecture offers power and flexibility but comes with their own set of complexities and concerns, particularly with performance testing. This usually requires that companies take a different approach to test, particularly performance testing.

Microservices Benefit from the Shift Left Approach to Testing

A key tenet of DevOps is to engage in continuous testing, as early as possible, using as much automation as possible. The approach to testing as close to the beginning of the SDLC is the basis of the Shift Left movement. This applies to test both the high-level API access point of the given microservice as well as lower level API used components.

Component testing is similar in approach to API testing, but specific methods are often required to ensure full test coverage of all components and application layers. Testing a single component, then testing integrated groups of elements together provides that these components can still function properly when you get to more complex test and load scenarios later in the SDLC. Then, you can transition with confidence to doing more traditional system-wide performance testing in a pre-production environment.

Figure 2: Component testing is a continuous process

Whereas traditional applications can be load tested via the application’s graphical user interface (GUI), load testing a microservice is about exercising its API directly via code. Sometimes the API will support a protocol other than HTTP. Thus, to test as soon as possible taking a “shift left” approach, load testing tools must be able to generate traffic with specific protocols such as RMTP, MQTT, and AMQP. Also, the tool needs to integrate easily into a company’s automated test processes.

Automated Load Testing Provides a Competitive Edge

In the world of modern DevOps, API and lower level component test achievement result from using a Continuous Integration (CI) and Continuous Delivery (CD) approach. Modern CI/CD is enabled via automation. Given the ever-accelerating speed of software development fostered by DevOps, test automation is not a nice to have, it’s essential. Human testing cannot provide the consistency and reliability required to ensure code quality at web scale. Companies that implement effective automation processes quickly will maintain a distinct competitive advantage over those lacking an automated testing facility. Better automation practices translate into faster release cycles. A company with the ability to release and test a feature in a week – from programming to deployment – will outpace those who get mired down by the release process itself and thus take months to complete the same tasks.

Tools Make a Difference

Choosing the right tool is a key decision when it comes to implementing a test automation process that is fast and effective. NeoLoad, the enterprise-scale performance testing platform from Neotys is designed from the ground up to be a comprehensive solution facilitating automated load testing. NeoLoad allows both developers and QA personnel to create automated tests that integrate easily into the overall CI/CD process.

Figure 3: NeoLoad is flexible and supports automation easily

NeoLoad supports testing under a variety of protocols and sources, from simple HTTP calls against an API to more complex calls against databases and message queues. Load testing can be configured for a few or thousands of virtual users. The reporting is robust and customizable.

NeoLoad is the type of tool that provides the power and flexibility needed to give companies the competitive edge required to be profitable when doing business in today’s digital world.

Putting it All Together

To achieve both speed and quality for performance testing microservices in a DevOps environment businesses will need to give testers and developers the autonomy necessary to take ownership of microservice SDLC. Once empowered, all members of the microservice development team – programmers and QA personnel to release engineers – will need to collaborate such that microservice automation happens wherever possible.

Beating the competition will depend on developers, testers, and release engineers working together seamlessly in a CI/CD environment to create software at increasingly faster rates. Choosing the right load testing tool, one with a proven history of success, is critical. Just as important as the tool – the ongoing commitment of all development team members to make microservices deliver on the customer experience expectation every time.

Learn More

Discover more load testing and performance testing content on the Neotys Resources pages, or download the latest version of NeoLoad and start testing today.


Bob Reselman 
Bob Reselman is a nationally-known software developer, system architect, test engineer, technical writer/journalist, and industry analyst. He has held positions as Principal Consultant with the transnational consulting firm, Capgemini and Platform Architect (Consumer) for the computer manufacturer, Gateway. Also, he was CTO for the international trade finance exchange, ITFex.
Bob’s authored four computer programming books and has penned dozens of test engineering/software development industry articles. He lives in Los Angeles and can be found on LinkedIn here, or on Twitter at @reselbob. Bob is always interested in talking about testing and software performance and happily responds to emails (

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