IBM Rational Performance Tester Review

We can edit captured transactions and organize them by those for which we require performance metrics, but it lacks a set of manuals or guides that would take out some guess work.


Valuable Features

It is used to capture and generate HTTP tests. The capture process is very easy. After this, we edited the captured transactions to organize them into the sections or transactions we require performance metrics for (i.e. splash page, user authentication, main pageload, logout, etc.). This editing process is easy to perform with the interface provided in Rational Performance Tester Finally, Rational Performance Tester has an import/export feature that has been extremely useful. We have used it to export our complete test library and import it into another Rational Performance Tester server with no loss or issues. This allows for platform test migrations and backup.

Improvements to My Organization

We are contracted to administrate and maintain an infrastructure that includes web-based services. Using Rational Performance Tester to capture and create ‘scripts’ to test those services allows our company to provide the client with SLA metrics that measure our performance. Also, the test can provide diagnostic indicators that can help point to issues with sub-services behind the web-based ‘curtain’ (i.e. file download, webmail, page loads, authentication, search, etc).

Room for Improvement

As intuitive as a product can be, its use could still benefit from a decent set of manuals or guides. It would certainly take much of the guess work out of using and interpreting the product output. If the Rational Software division has produced them, then I can only speculate that maybe they are buried somewhere in the IBM support site.

Use of Solution

The person I replaced had been using this for a few years, and I continued to use IBM Rational Performance Tester at the client facility for a further three years. I had never used the product before.

Our client holds the support contract for the IBM Tivoli Composite Application Manager for Transactions V7.4.0.1 (ITCAM-RT) which includes a license for IBM Rational Performance Tester 8.6 (RPT). These products were recently upgraded from the IBM Tivoli Composite Application Manager for Transactions V7.3.0.1 and IBM Rational Performance Tester 8.2.1.

Deployment Issues

The deployment of RPT 8.2 was easy based on a guide that was provided by a Rational support engineer. I recently used this same Rational Performance Tester 8.2 installation guide to install a new server with RPT 8.6.

Customer Service and Technical Support

After placing a PMR with IBM, you are contacted by a support engineer who is a subject matter expert on the product you opened the PMR on. With the experiences I’ve had with IBM, I would give the support team an 85-90% favorable rating. The customer service skills of all engineers have not been consistent enough for a perfect rating. It can also be difficult to determine support needs when your environment contains multiple integrated products/assemblies (i.e. ITM, ITCAM-RT, etc.)

Previous Solutions

My arrival on the client site was after the product had already been chosen by the client. I did not participate in the selection/evaluation process that had occurred.

Initial Setup

After the product installation, there was no need to change the default application parameters. The default configuration served our purposes ‘out-of-the-box’. The requirement and installation of the IBM certificate to allow the tests to be captured was resolved with IBM RPT support. By creating a “Development”, “Production” and “Archive” project folders, it was very easy to create, test and archive the library of tests that had been created over time.

Implementation Team

I performed two Rational Performance Tester deployments using the Windows platform and understandably, each experience can differ. The ITCAM-RT Rational Integration Support was documented in the install guide that it would error and fail unless you install it with a Windows local admin account. My Windows engineer installed Windows Server on a physical server. He then gave me the administrator account and I performed the Rational Performance Tester installation. Next, we joined the server to the domain started the RPT and all was successful. The second install of Rational Performance Tester 8.6 did not work a smooth as the first based on a few steps being rearranged. In this case, the server was built (virtual server this time). The server was joined to the domain and since the group policy would prohibit local admin accounts, we had to install the Rational Performance Tester product through the VMWare console to the server. Next, group policy adjustments had to be made to allow user access to RPT.

ROI

Not having been involved in the evaluation or purchase of Rational Performance Tester, I cannot quantify the ROI. I can say that Rational Performance Tester was perfectly suited to provide the means to monitor the availability and performance of our web services.

Other Advice

The majority of issues I have experienced have not been attributed to the product, but to the environment. These issues ranged from test target firewall access, browser security configurations, certificate requirements, domain privileges and group policies. Procuring an administrative guide/manual was impossible, but the IBM website does have many supportive tip and “best practice” guides. Any IBM PMRs that we opened on RPT involved test metric interpretations and the IBM/RPT support team was very helpful to diagnose the non-RPT related issues mentioned.

To provide and overall usage picture, all tests created in RPT are exported to and performed by ITCAM-RT.The metrics stored in an Oracle database and displayed in views on IBM Tivoli Monitoring (ITM).We also use Crystal Reports to produce the reports presented to the customer.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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