LoadRunner Alternatives: What Protocols Can JMeter Support?

JMeter is a great alternative to more expensive enterprise solutions like LoadRunner because it is open-source while still being robust and powerful. With about 20 years of history behind it, JMeter has had the time and community to be able to support most protocols you'd need to test your application.

LoadRunner is the most popular commercial load testing tool on the market, with good reason.  It can support the widest number of protocols to cover many of the legacy apps that can be found in your typical enterprise.  However, in recent years, customers have begun looking for an alternative to LoadRunner for a number of reasons, including but not limited to:

  • Licensing/Cost: LoadRunner contracts in the enterprise can easily get into the mid to high six figures just for support and maintenance, not to mention the millions that may have been spent to acquire the initial licenses.
  • Lack of Developer Adoption: many customers complain as they move to Agile and DevOps, LoadRunner has not been adopted into the Agile teams.  Developers often complain about needing to learn a new tool that is not open sourced and based on C.  Additionally, the integration capabilities and API's of LoadRunner are rather limited.
  • Cloud Support is an Afterthought: unlike newer tools such as Flood that were built with the idea of cloud load testing as the means to transform load testing, LoadRunner is mostly an on-premises hosted tool that has only been partially migrated to the cloud.

If you've decided like many other companies to move to a more modern tool that addresses the requirements for load testing in the context of Agile and DevOps, you won't be alone.  In fact, many organizations are exploring open source tools that can replace LoadRunner, due to their low cost, developer buy in, and cloud friendly architectures.  The leading tool in this regard is JMeter, which has millions of downloads and is widely considered to be the closest open source replacement to LoadRunner.

What is JMeter?

JMeter is a project from the Apache Foundation, which was initially released more than 20 years ago as an open source load testing tool for the masses. Given it's maturity, JMeter has a tremendous community with users around the globe contributing countless tutorials and training materials.  Additionally, there are hundreds of plugins that extend the capabilities of JMeter to cover specific protocols or challenges that might be hard to address with JMeter out of the box.

Which Protocols Should I Prioritize?

When evaluating a replacement to LoadRunner, it is important to make sure that the new solution will be able to cover the most important protocols in your landscape.  However, it is important to note that there is no single tool on the market that covers all protocols that LoadRunner can offer.  So, prioritization is key to finding a load testing solution that can replace LoadRunner.

The best summary image we have found as to which protocols are most important in the enterprise is this one from Wipro's State of Quality Report 2018:

Protocols usage across application landscape, from Wipro's State of Quality Report 2018

Here, we can easily see the protocols, by list of importance are:

  • Web HTTP - for testing browser based web apps and web sites
  • Web Services - for testing REST, SOAP, and other API's, including those that support mobile apps
  • Ajax True Client - for testing single page web apps
  • Citrix - for testing apps hosted on a Citrix Desktop
  • SAP - for testing non-web based (non-Fiori) SAP apps (i.e. Thick Client)
  • JAVA - for testing Java desktop apps
  • Mobility - for testing mobile specific protocols, used in things like IoT and wearables
  • RDP - for testing Remote Desktop Protocol (separate from Citrix)
  • Oracle Web 11i - for testing legacy Oracle web apps prior to Oracle 12
  • Siebel Web - for testing legacy, non browser based Siebel apps

Overall, testing for web apps, web services, and mobile apps constitutes more than 69% of the demand for load testing.  Keep this in mind when prioritizing which protocols are most important in your LoadRunner replacement.

What Protocols can JMeter Support?

Below, we have listed out an unofficial list of all of the LoadRunner protocols supported, published by GetJMeter.  We expanded the list to note the priority of the protocol based on the data from Wipro, as well information on whether JMeter can support it:

License Bundle NamePriorityJMeter Support?  .NET Record/Replay
 Low    No    ActiveX/JavaScript    High  Yes (via JMeter + Selenium)
Also, explore Element
 Database    High  Yes
 DCOM    Low  No
 Development    Low  No
 GUI    Low  No
Explore Tosca + Flood
 Java    Medium  No
 Mobile    High  Yes
 Mobile UI    High  Yes (JMeter + Selenium)
Also, explore Element
 Network    Medium  Yes
 Oracle E-Business    Low  No
 Remote Access    Low  No
 Remote Desktop    Low  No
 Rich Internet Applications    High  Yes (via JMeter + Selenium)
Also, explore Element
 Wireless    Low  No

As the table shows, JMeter can support the most important protocols in the enterprise, especially those covering Web, Mobile, and Web Services.  Where LoadRunner shines is in covering the lesser used protocols that are needed to test legacy applications and corner cases.  Only you can decide whether these protocols are important to you, and ultimately if JMeter is the right tool to replace LoadRunner in your organization.

Try JMeter + Flood as an Enterprise LoadRunner Replacement

JMeter is a great tool, but on it's own, many users will find it is not quite enough to support the needs of an enterprise.  Supercharging JMeter with a cloud load testing platform like Flood will make sure you can fill in the gaps often left behind by open source solutions, for an affordable, flexible LoadRunner replacement.

We’d encourage you to sign up for a free trial of Flood.   With this trial, you can access our Enterprise package including all of our great features on a limited scale.  We will augment JMeter with real time reporting, a REST API, integrations to countless tools in your DevOps pipeline, and access to a rockstar support team.

If you have any questions about how Flood can help take your JMeter load testing to the next level, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.  We are more than happy to share our experiences working with our largest clients leveraging some of the largest JMeter implementations.

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