Performance Center Review

It integrates with Application Lifecycle Management, but the web-based interface is still a little clunky in terms of response to user input.


Valuable Features

Its integration with the Application Lifecycle Management platform makes it very flexible and easy to learn.

Improvements to My Organization

My organization teaches Performance Center, and we find over and over that its the top choice for an enterprise solution to performance testing. Because it integrates with Application Lifecycle Management, it is a natural choice for any organization that already uses HP software solutions. While the installation of any server-based application can be complicated, Performance Center is remarkably straightforward by comparison, and for some time HP software has been known for its ease of use and, consequently, appeal to a broad user base.

Room for Improvement

Performance Center was a stand-alone server application until its marriage with Application Lifecycle Management in 12.x, when both the architecture and the user interface underwent a major overhaul. As such, it has been rapidly evolving for the past several years as HP worked through the initial UI and performance challenge in terms of a response to improve its stability, then begin to focus on adding features that would facilitate communication of performance data.

Today, they continue to enhance reporting and analysis as the My Performance Center dashboard matures, but the web-based interface is still a little clunky in terms of response to user input, especially in the Workload area where a load test is built. Communication between load testing hosts and components is very complex and sometimes fragile, making manual intervention still too often necessary should an anomaly occur during testing.

Use of Solution

I've used it since v9.x.

Deployment Issues

As I said before, Performance Center is certainly part of a complex environment, especially now that it is an extension of Application Lifecycle Management. Yet it constantly impresses me with its relative ease of installation, and the flexibility of its architecture.

Stability Issues

Initially (11.x) its stability left a little to be desired, but I feel HP has worked diligently to fine tune the tool so that today, the most noticeable lag occurs during the startup of a load test. Once the test is running, the tool performs as expected.

Customer Service and Technical Support

As I mentioned, I teach Performance Center classes as an independent contractor, so I do not frequently have the need to contact HP support. In my classes, naturally I hear feedback on different support experiences, and I would say they are an unsurprising mixture of favorable and unfavorable opinions. I can only imagine how challenging it must be to troubleshoot such a complex installation when every enterprise surely has a unique set of variables.

Previous Solutions

Other than HP LoadRunner, I have not. They were the first tools I learned, and have continued to use them because they constantly meet or exceed my expectations.

Initial Setup

Performance Center 12.x is compatible with a very specific set of operating system, database, hardware, and file system options. The installation process scans for those exact options, and will not proceed even if a slight variation is detected. By comparison, the previous 11.x could be configured to use Oracle 11g (the free, development version of the database), useful when testing a trial version of the software. Now, the supported options are a bit more rigid, but still the installation process is remarkably straightforward. I have a reasonable technical background, and after working through a couple specific challenges I have now installed and configured the application half a dozen times.

Implementation Team

We did implement the software using our in-house team, but I would advise engaging HP consultants for larger installations. The complexity of our environment cannot be compared to the needs of a typical enterprise.

ROI

The HP sales team is much more qualified to discuss topics related to pricing and licensing. HP is very focused on building long-lasting relationships with its clients, and as such is willing to negotiate a combination that is favorable for both them and the client.

Other Advice

HP has very masterfully re-engineered this tool and integrated it with Application Lifecycle Management to create one of the most seamless project management suites I've used in years. When simultaneously integrated with Unified Functional Testing, which also supports service testing, I feel the richness of testing information that can be managed from within a single tool (ALM) is hard to beat--despite the price tag.

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