Are Mobile apps “low-risk”?

 I am here at HP Discover, with a few of our customers, and the topic of discussion is performance testing in a mobile environment. We are trying to find out what different companies do around performance testing their mobile applications, and I am shocked to hear a couple of people comment that Mobile apps are considered “low-risk” in their organizations. Not that they agree with this, but this is what it is their organization believes. Risk is assessed on priority, and priority is determined by usage. And a newly introduced mobile app will not necessarily have a lot of usage, and hence is deemed low priority.   


The reasoning also suggests that if a mobile app goes down, it is not as big a deal, since there are other ways for the user to access the application - like the traditional kiosk systems, or the web application. Hence, the end user would not really suffer from unavailability.


The discussion soon turns into a heated debate from other customers who have unknowingly brought down their systems by introducing a new mobile application to their finely tuned, well-running, under-utilized environment.


There are factors that go into play when dealing with mobile applications, which don’t exist with web applications. For e.g. the latency of the network. With connections to mobile devices being open for longer, the overhead created on the load balancers and the routers can be much higher. And if not tested and accounted for properly, this can negatively impact the entire system – including the mission-critical web-based apps and the other apps that were co-habitating in the environment. And then the variance in latency based on network types (3G, 4G, etc), and the fact that networks like 3G are over-saturated due to first gen smartphones on certain carrier networks, and you are looking at a complete different ballgame here.


Add to that the unpredictability of usage patterns. If a new mobile app is introduced and publicized, there is a possibility that it might get extremely popular, and create a higher usage than you ever accounted for. Or as new versions or patches get released on the application, your entire user base might try to download them, which can again cause a huge spike in load.


We all left the discussion agreeing that this sort of risk analysis, and calling mobile apps low-risk is basically leaving the health and performance of your systems to luck. Is it really worth it?



Labels: mobile| performance
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