What is most valuable?
High scalability. Web-based testing. The interface. If you're familiar with the days of using LoadRunner, when you had to have the 32-bit client, using a web-based client is fantastic. You can spin it up relatively quickly despite the fact that it's enterprise software. You can test a huge variety of applications, not just web-based systems, but SAP, Oracle, web services, pretty much anything out in the market place, but it's mobile-based testing.
How has it helped my organization?
In my current organization, I honestly don't know so much. But in my previous organization, when I was doing consulting, we helped huge amounts of customers prepare not to fail under scale. So whether you have a large amount of base driven things like Super Bowl, or a major sale, release of a new product like Samsung S8, iPhone 7, etc. Basically when you get a huge push.
What needs improvement?
Canned reports are always a challenge and a question with customers because customers want to see sexy reports. They want to be able to show something to the CIO. So I think the dashboards are one of the features I'd like to see most.
I think it's more of getting into the world where you've got tableau and dashboarding. I think that reporting needs to be a little bit more fancy, as people expect the sexier reporting. They don't expect just to have, "I ran a test. The test ran for this long." I think the consumer's expectations for what reporting looks like have changed a lot. You do an Excel report or a Word report versus, "No, it needs to be a very pretty dashboard."
The product itself, I think it's pretty good. I can't think of anything off the top of my head.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
It's great. I don't have a problem with stability at all, as long as you have it scaled properly and you have sufficient hardware in place. If you're running it all on a VM, you're going to have a problem, but if you run it with the proper infrastructure, it's a very solid product.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
The nature of Performance Center is scalable, so you have the application server and then, when you need to have more generators to generate more load, you spin those up pretty quickly. You can use cloud-based generators as well, so that's a huge plus.
How are customer service and technical support?
It's been a long time since I needed to use tech support. Normally, as a consultant, I am the tech support, so I don't typically have to use tech support. But when I have, I normally am able to get quickly to either R&D-level or a level-two support because it's a real problem with the product, not necessarily just, "I can't figure this out."
Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?
I help customers with this process all the time. I'm usually advising them on what, why, when, what the feature benefits are.
Unfortunately, as is human nature, customers decide that they need Performance Center because they've had a disaster. Hopefully not a horrible disaster, but they've had some kind of case where they released a product and it didn't scale. They didn't plan for their own success. A classic example is HealthCare.gov. Politics aside, when you've got the entire American population ready to enroll for healthcare and it tanks, it's a very bad experience for everyone. And that's not an uncommon occurrence across the board.
So then they realize, "Oh, well, we better do performance testing," and then they realize they didn't plan for that in the project lifecycle, so now they need to come and talk to Micro Focus about standing that up, or to talk to a partner at Micro Focus about how to do that for them.
There was a reason, for the longest time, that it had one of the largest market shares of any type of solution in the world, and now that Micro Focus has Silk and the LoadRunner/Performance Center product, they've got that market cornered.
How was the initial setup?
I have set up many, many instances of Performance Center. Recently, it's much more straightforward. A long time ago it was very complex. But it's pretty straightforward. You set up the application center, you set up your generators, you set up your controllers, database.
What other advice do I have?
When selecting a vendor I would judge them on the criteria that I have myself: they've got to have experience, they've got to have done the testing on the solutions that they've worked on. I think seniority is good too, little gray hairs don't hurt anything.
Regarding advice to others, invest in training. Invest in mentoring. Invest in experienced people that have done the job before. Don't go into it thinking that you're going to open the box, get it out, and it's going to be perfect. It's a complicated tool for a reason. You don't want someone operating on you who says, "Well, I read a book on brain surgery." It's complicated for a reason.