Every SAP project needs to do load and performance testing and, for the last 20 years, the standard load testing tool for SAP has been LoadRunner. There are several LoadRunner licensing options – each with their own pros and cons, but there is one stand-out option that is the best choice for most projects.
There are three key inputs which determine the cost of a LoadRunner license:
- Number of virtual users: how many concurrent users will you need to run your Peak Load test? What about your Stress/Break test? Getting this wrong means that load tests will be less realistic, and will reduce the value of the load testing exercise.
- Type of virtual users: do you have to test a rich web interface like Fiori (you will need the TruClient virtual user type), or is it a simpler browser-based interface (you can use TruClient or the Web/HTTP vuser type). Will you have to test web services? Send messages via MQ? Will you have to automate the SAP GUI desktop application? Different virtual user types are licensed in different “protocol bundles”. This does not matter for the VUD license, but it is important for all the other license options.
- Timeline/Duration of testing: are you planning on running load tests every day for a year (unlikely, but a 1-year term license would fit this situation nicely), or will you be executing tests for a few weeks, then taking a break while new functionality is developed, before running more load tests (more likely!).
Option 1: Use an existing license
The kind of large organisations that need SAP often have LoadRunner already (to test other applications), but they may not have the right number or type of virtual users needed by the SAP project – which is why you still need to research your three key inputs.
There may be scheduling problems when sharing the license with other projects. In situations where sharing LoadRunner starts to impact the project schedule, projects managers will magically find the budget for a Virtual User Days license.
Option 2: LoadRunner Term license
Once SAP is deployed within an organisation it is there forever but an SAP project is a short-term exercise, so projects never purchase perpetual licenses. Micro Focus sells a 1-month, 3-month, and 12-month term license. Pricing is not publicly available, but a sales rep can give a quote based on the three key inputs.
Term licenses for LoadRunner can also be purchased from SAP (who are an authorized reseller), but this is not recommended, as support is provided by SAP technical support who do not know anything about LoadRunner. SAP support for LoadRunner adds unnecessary delays as they generally cannot solve any non-trivial LoadRunner support issues, and make it difficult to escalate to the support team at Micro Focus who can actually solve your problem.
Option 3: Virtual User Days (VUDs)
The number of concurrent users for an SAP system is usually quite small. There is a free 50 vuser LoadRunner Community license that can be augmented with Virtual User Days (VUDs). Buying 10,000 VUDs would allow you to run 10 days of testing with 1000 vusers, or 50 days of testing with 200 vusers (for example). The VUD license allows you to run as many tests as you like in 24 hours (with the specified number of vusers).
VUDs are usually the best choice for SAP projects, as they are both flexible and cost-effective compared to other options. The VUD license lasts for a 12 month period, so it doesn’t matter if project timelines change, and it is valid for all virtual user types, so there are no nasty surprises if you suddenly have to add SAP GUI to your load testing scope.
Option 4: Virtual User Hours (cloud only)
LoadRunner Cloud (the SaaS version of LoadRunner) takes the idea of VUDs one step further by offering hourly pricing instead of daily pricing. There are several drawbacks to this option:
- you must use the clunky cloud-based interface to run tests, rather than the LoadRunner desktop application
- the pricing includes cloud-based load generators, but you cannot run SAP GUI from them (however, there is an on-premises loadgen option)
- the pricing is not much cheaper than VUD licensing for TruClient vusers. If you run three 1-hour tests in a day, it is actually more expensive (and lots of runs are needed to get load tests working smoothly)
If you are planning on using LoadRunner for your SAP load testing, the best option is to do as much testing as possible using the free 50-vuser LoadRunner Community Edition, and to use additional VUD licensing for larger tests, once the system is working smoothly with 50 users.