Gary JacksonAs the world goes mobile at increasing speed, the current process for testing mobile applications simply does not work. Despite increased investments in application performance monitoring, load testing and functional testing, users continue to be frustrated by application failures.

Over the last few months, business and technology news grabbed our attention with headlines highlighting spectacular website failures, costing the offending organizations millions of dollars per incident. The untold story is the contributing effect mobile devices had on those failures. I have observed that shifting as few as 15% of interactions to a mobile device population can overwhelm server resources. Whether with a browser or a purpose-built mobile app, the same back-end resources support functions like accessing user accounts, payment processing and logistics. The websites and processes were simply not designed or tested to support the increased load caused by mobile access.

According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology, failed application deployments cost companies nearly US$60 billion per year in the United States alone. These failures are not acceptable in the on-demand world. Thoughtful and accountable businesses and organizations are adopting a new, proactive approach to mobile application testing, one that incorporates the concepts of application performance and real-world network conditions into every phase of the application development life cycle.

I have seen firsthand the economic impact enjoyed by companies that design, develop, test and manage their applications for performance. The impact in many cases easily reaches millions of dollars saved in reducing the continuous break/fix cycle. I have also seen revenue increase dramatically as mobile application performance increases. Perhaps the most important impact of all is customer retention. Simply stated, a bad mobile experience threatens your brand.

Rightly or wrongly, end users now expect faster performance levels from mobile applications than from the desktop or laptop. Evidence reveals that an end user that was satisfied with a seven-second page load last year expects the same page load in three seconds now. Users don’t care about the added complexity of mobile networks, devices and geographies. Users don’t care how it gets done, they just want apps that load quickly and perform perfectly.

And as everyone knows, users aren’t planning to do less on smaller screens; if anything, they expect more, like clear VoIP, streaming video and 24/7 access to social media applications.

How can we improve end-user satisfaction? With a new approach to performance testing, companies will eliminate underperforming apps that frustrate users. We are witnessing dramatic results to this end in the testing of applications under real-world network conditions.

In order to truly understand how an application will perform and address shortcomings pre-deployment, or to troubleshoot failures post-deployment, actual network and usage conditions such as latency, jitter, packet loss and bandwidth need to be captured, analyzed, and then replayed or emulated throughout the development process. This is the process referred to as network virtualization.