The Value of a Good "Death Test"

In a recent project we created a test that was sure to crash the site every time and Bernard Garner at Spry Business Technology Solutions aptly gave it the name "death test".  (Bernard and team are managing a very challenging web site launch on EC2 and working with us to get it done).  It's hard to overestimate the value of a good "death test", not just for the sake of infrastructure but security as well - only by knowing one's limits can one be prepared to react accordingly by  adding additional cloud resources.  This particular feature of the cloud - the ability to withstand attack - is an undersold and understated benefit as far as I am concerned.  I like to call it "crash proofing" because whether the traffic is legitimate or not it should never be allowed to crash the site and the "death test" is key to this. 

Elsewhere in this blog I have called this a "crash test", and perhaps it sounds more positive than "death test".  But in any case the purpose is the same - what you see in the chart above is the equivalent of a "flat line" on a heart monitor, so maybe "death test" is more accurate.  (By the way, Bernard also gave us an idea the other day that we think is going to make load testing a lot more akin to twisting knobs on an oscilloscope than writing a program or creating a test plan.  We think this is a major breakthrough and think you will agree.  Stay tuned for more!

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