Tuesday, 30 June 2009

JustGiving CEO pledges refund over upgrade cockup

From The Register

JustGiving.com’s CEO has apologised to users of the company’s online charity donation service, following a clumsy upgrade that has plagued the system since going live over a week ago.

The firm is offering cheesed-off users, who struggled to access fundraising pages and logon to the system after the relaunch of the JustGiving website, a refund of the five per cent transaction fee for any donations made since 20 June for seven days.

“We did carry out extensive testing before we launched it last weekend. However, what we now know is that we didn’t test it extensively enough, or try hard enough to break it,” admitted JustGiving’s boss Zarine Kharas in a miserable blog post late last week.

In the meantime the company is continuing to grapple with the upgrade cockup.

“We take full responsibility for our mistakes and our tech team is working 24 hours a day to fix everything, and the rest of the team are staffing the phones and email enquiries to try and help out as quickly as possible,” said Kharas.

“The bottom line is this: we know that the performance of the new site over the past week has been totally unacceptable. We take full responsibility for that and are committed not only to fixing it, but also to showing that we’re sorry.”

JustGiving’s CEO is hoping that refunding the transaction fee to those affected by the upgrade will help draw a line under the matter.

However, many are complaining it doesn’t go far enough to compensate those people who have faced major strife collecting and making donations via the site.

“To me, it just seems a bit dotcomish, a bit amateurish, which is fine if you’re launching a free service from your garage, not so fine if you’ve been going for 10 years and have turned over £20+ million,” commented angry JustGiving user SteveK on the firm’s blog.

On Saturday the firm posted an update to its blog, confirming it was still having problems but added most issues had now been fixed.

Unfortunately some users are still struggling to view fundraising pages, while others are unable to create new pages since the website relaunched.

Users continue to complain about the upgrade snafu.

"My event completed yesterday, everybody raising money for the charity I am supporting has had issues in the build-up to this event," wrote CharlieW in a comment below the company's latest blog post.

"How many donations are being lost because donators are put off by amateur implementation of new website?", asked "less than impressed" user Dave.

Last week the website’s CTO Dominic Lacey confessed to El Reg that deployment of the upgrade had been less than smooth.

"Load testing didn't accurately reflect the way it's being used in the live environment," explained Lacey last Tuesday, a message that was echoed yesterday by the company’s boss.

We’ve asked JustGiving to provide more details on when users can expect to see the website return to life fully in order that they can, you know, help to improve lives and that via their much-needed fundraising efforts. At time of writing the firm hadn’t got back to us with comment.

Monday, 29 June 2009

News sites falter as traffic spikes after Jackson's death

From ComputerWorld

Michael Jackson's death on Thursday caused a spike in visits to news Web sites that affected the performance and availability of some of the biggest ones, according to Web monitoring company Keynote Systems.

Michael Jackson's death on Thursday caused a spike in visits to news Web sites that affected the performance and availability of some of the biggest ones, according to Web monitoring company Keynote Systems.

Between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. U.S. Eastern Time, the availability for the news sites from ABC, CBS and the LA Times dropped to almost 10 percent, meaning that about nine out of 10 visitors couldn't get the sites to load.

Starting at 5:30 p.m., the average download speed for news sites tracked by Keynote went from less than four seconds to almost 9 seconds, and their average availability dropped from almost 100 percent to 86 percent, the company said. News sites monitored by Keynote returned to normal performance and availability levels by 9:15 p.m.

Other news sites that experienced problems included AOL, MSNBC, NBC, the San Francisco Chronicle and Yahoo News, according to Keynote.

However, in a subsequent statement late Friday evening, Keynote noted that the slowdowns were caused primarily by external providers of interactive images and ads to the news sites. An example was the news site of ABC, which served up its internal content without delay but got dragged down by its external providers, Keynote said.

In these situations, depending on how a Web site is designed or how end users' browsers are configured, Web pages can display immediately their internal content, leaving blank sections for the delayed external content or, at the other extreme, the pages will not be displayed until all components are ready to be rendered, according to Keynote.

"Ongoing end-to-end load testing and performance measurement benchmarking are essential to being prepared for unexpected news events. News sites should require third party content companies, such as ad networks, to certify the capacity of their networks, perform regular load tests from around the globe, and have strong Service Level Agreements in place," Keynote said in its statement Friday evening

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Acutest Launch Load Cannon Testing Service

From NewsReel Network.com

Acutest have launched the Load Cannon: a hosted performance testing service for web applications. A fast and cost-effective service, it is aimed at enabling organisations without the inhouse capabilities to enjoy the benefits of load testing.

London, UK June 25, 2009 — Acutest have launched the Load Cannon: a hosted performance testing service for web applications. A fast and cost-effective service, it is aimed at enabling organisations without the inhouse capabilities to enjoy the benefits of load testing.

Acutest (http://www.acutest.co.uk), the UK software testing company, have announced the launch of their new load testing service: the Load Cannon. This is a performance testing service for web-enabled applications and websites. Hosted in the UK, it is a fusion of performance testing tools; load generators; monitors; structured testing methods; risk-based testing techniques and experienced performance testing consultants.

Acutest found that many organisations wanted to check how their web applications performed under a heavy load of users or when processing a high volume of transactions. This was usually triggered by an upcoming new web-site launch, enhancements to a web-based system, or changes to the infrastructure ahead of a significant event or seasonal peak. But they were deterred by the cost of performance testing tools; the expertise needed to conduct a performance test and analyse the results effectively; and the length of time it took to perform the testing. All of which led to them do little, if any, performance testing.

The current difficult economic conditions have restricted performance testing further. Cost constrained, many organisations just live with the risks of performance failure (ironically, in a marketplace where the performance of web applications can be a key competitive differentiator and business lifeline). Sometimes their web systems work as they hope. Other times, they don’t.

“We were approached by an organisation that had enhanced its website services ahead of a seasonal peak load. Costs had been reigned in and they did no performance testing. When the peak load arrived, the website collapsed with a significant adverse impact on the business,” said Ian Coe, the Head of Load Testing Services at Acutest. “The old adage that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure is all very well, but if the ounce costs too much people will take the risk of needing a costly cure. We decided to come up with a cost-effective load testing version of that ounce: our Load Cannon Testing Service.”

The load testing service is designed to be robust, quick to operate, capable of both onsite and offsite deployment and is also scalable. The pricing has been designed for the current economic climate. There are no testing tool license costs or restrictions such as rental periods. There are no additional costs for simulating high volumes of users, or transactions, in a test scenario. And you only pay for what you use.

A risk assessment is carried out at the start of the assignment and the testing is prioritised by business impact and likelihood of failure so organisations can match their budget with the level of risk they want to mitigate. This enables them to choose the level of performance testing they want, ranging from a simple benchmark load test to a comprehensive set of performance tests for a complex web-enabled system. So now organisations no longer have to live with the untested risk of performance failure.

“It’s easy to cut testing costs by simply doing less but this increases risk and the potential for high recovery costs, not to mention loss of business and reputation. We set ourselves the challenge of creating new testing solutions with the constraints of the current recession in mind. Services which cut the costs of testing whilst managing the risks,” said Barry Varley, Managing Director of Acutest. “In May, we brought Software Planner, a cost effective SDLC test management tool, to the UK testing market. Now we’ve launched the Load Cannon, our cost effective web application performance testing service. We’re also piloting other recession testing services that that I hope to announce in the coming months.”

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Ixia's product suite tests virtualized data centers

From Test and Measurement World

Expanding into virtual network and virtualization testing, Ixia has launched the IxVM platform to enable data-center managers to assess virtual infrastructure performance and capacity. IxVM builds on the company's library of Layer 2–7 performance test tools that discover, manage, and automate testing in large virtualized environments.

With the suite of IxVM tools, it is possible to test Layer 2/3 virtual network resources and Layer 4–7 virtual applications. IxChariot VM, a component of IxVM, uses software endpoints—small software components that run on each virtual machine—that send and receive traffic, while measuring performance. This makes it possible to source traffic from virtual servers in the same manner as the supported applications. IxExplorer VM uses software endpoints to generate Layer2/3 traffic to test features such as VLAN and QoS.

IxVM allows performance testing across thousands of VMs (virtual machines) simultaneously with real-world application traffic. It also enables independent measurement and convergence testing of VM migration; tuning of virtual resources, such as servers and NICs; measurement of key performance indicators, like delay, jitter, or packet loss, through virtual switches; and testing of network performance variances when running applications over different operating systems.