Recently a client asked me “What’s the difference between LoadRunner and Performance Center? They’re both sold by the same company, but they seem to do much the same thing.”

I think he could see that I was about to launch into a half-hour lecture on the topic because he quickly added “Just give me the elevator pitch”.

I thought for a second and explained “Well, obviously they are both used for performance testing, but Performance Center is the Enterprise version of LoadRunner; so it suits larger companies who need to run performance testing for multiple projects at the same time without the problem of sharing a Controller or purchasing duplicate licenses.”

He put his hand on my shoulder and said “That’s an okay pitch, but it has one big problem. Let’s go and get a coffee, and I’ll tell you what I think of when I hear someone say ‘enterprise software’.”

Here are my notes from the conversation:

Enterprise Software Shrinkwrap Software
Is sold to a very small number of customers (due to the size of the market for something so specialised), so the development costs must be amortised over fewer sales. Expect a 6 or 7 figure price tag. Large consumer market. Sold cheaply to a large number of customers.
Generally has complicated pricing that makes it difficult to compare other products that solve the same problem. Prices are often not public, meaning you have to ask a sales person. Quoted prices might vary depending on who is asking. Simple pricing with one or two versions (e.g. “standard”, and “pro”). Prices listed on a website.
Because of its price tag, it must be sold to upper management. It has a long sales cycle involving lots of meetings with sales people and pre-sales consultants. Sale must align to corporate budget cycle. May involve perks such as being invited to a corporate box at the Grand Prix. Cost of sale is very high. Probably sold by a website with no interaction with a real person. Paid for out of petty cash, with little or no “approval process” red tape. Short sales cycle.
The product is sold to people who are not going to use it themselves. This creates mis-aligned incentives as features are added that are unimportant to the users, but sound good to their managers’ manager (auditability, tracability, visibility, reporting, compliance with corporate IT policies or platforms) Features are driven by the users who will buy the product.
Is horribly complicated to install and configure. Requires Professional Services/Consulting days to do this. An upgrade is a big deal that must be planned, and performed by professionals. Anyone can install it. Just click click click through the installation wizard.
Requires an “administrator” to perform regular maintenance and keep it running. No maintenance required.
Because of the small install base, there are likely to be a lot of bugs related to different versions of the platform it is installed on. New versions have bugs for a long time as there are fewer users to find them and complain about them. Works on the widest variety of operating system versions (although they are probably all still Windows). Fewer annoying bugs.
Usability is generally poor. Users of the software probably require training, even if they already know how to do the same thing with another similar product. The software should be reletively intuitive to use.

So, while I don’t think that the two columns are a particularly good fit for either Performance Center or LoadRunner, I will probably avoid using the word “enterprise” when I am trying to say that a product is suited for activities that are “business critical”, or that a product is “better than the cheap consumer version”.


Published On: November 5, 2011Tags: ,


  1. Chris November 5, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    very true

  2. James Pulley November 7, 2011 at 10:56 am

    The two also have different license models. If you need remote access, from offsite, then you are pushed to Performance Center if you choose to maintain license compliance with the standard/non-custom license model. This is an oft overlooked item when contemplating securing off site resources for your loadrunner skills.

  3. Jason November 18, 2011 at 4:40 am

    I think the first column is very relevant to Perf Center

    Requires an “administrator” to perform regular maintenance and keep it running. (Yes)
    Is horribly complicated to install and configure. (Yes – I have an article describing that)
    The product is sold to people who are not going to use it themselves (Yes)
    complicated pricing (Yes – I have the spreadsheets to prove that)

    Perf Center is essentially a very thin wrapper around Loadrunner.

  4. Brian Wilson December 7, 2011 at 2:51 am

    Almost every project I work on has offsite LR resources, as of late. In most cases, they do not use PC. They just RDP into the Controller box. This is including HP PSO projects. It may violate the EULA, but EVERYONE RDP’s to LR machines and HP doesn’t care.

    • Colin Main June 22, 2015 at 8:20 pm

      I would be *very* wary of pushing my luck with HP licensing, to say “HP doesn’t care” is not true. Like many large organisations, when sales are low they supplement their income with compliance audits – and their standard EULA states they can audit your use at very short notice.
      However, I feel that the cost differences between LR & PC mean they have created a gap in their marketplace – smallish organisations of the size and finances suited to LR, which use a single, small, off-shore testing team cannot affort PC but are not allowed to use LR. So they are forced to make a difficult decision…..

  5. Brian Wilson December 7, 2011 at 2:55 am

    There are some good points in that enterprise column that are applicable to PC IMO. The bottom line is that there are some major capabilities that PC has and if you want them, there’s only one way to get them. I think the install base would be much larger if the price was significantly reduced. It seems a lot of HP LoadRunner customers are migrating to PC just this year, so the install base has grown significantly as of late.

  6. Plymouth Rock January 26, 2012 at 3:37 am

    From my viewpoint the only major differences between Performance Center (v9.5) and Loadrunner are:

    1) Performance Center allows you to swap licenses across Controllers, while LoadRunner does not. Frankly, this is the only thing I think PC has going for it. A more elegant solution would have been to develop a license server for LR.

    2) Performance Center must be installed on at least 2 extra boxes (analysis and web server, and a DB server) if you plan to use it with any sort of user base. LoadRunner can be installed by anyone familiar with LoadRunner anywhere.

    3) Performance Center puts a web interface on top of the LoadRunner interface (so you have another layer of potential failures to diagnose).

    4) Performance Center can act as respository for all scenarios, scripts, and results. With LoadRunner, you’d have to use a file system (which is frankly easier to navigate, use, and manage)

  7. Andrew Adams February 7, 2012 at 11:11 am

    By that definition both LR and PC are enterprise software. It is just that PC is a bit more enterprise than LR.

    Another nice feature that PC has over LR is monitor profiles. You can setup a whole heap of scenarios that use the same monitor profile. If you make a change to the monitor profile, all of the scenarios pick up the change automatically.

  8. Richard Ammerlaan February 13, 2012 at 12:48 pm

    @Brian: I believe HP does “care” about people RDP’ng from ofshore sites. Maybe not during a contract but try to extend and suddenly there’s a need for a “worldwide” license

    PC is al about saving hardware, despite needing the mentioned need for a DB server etc. But giving the mysterious pricing models used by most tool vendors it’s almost impossible to really get a good view of when single licences at multiple sites (with their own loadgenerators) are a better deal then a centralized PC solution with centralized hardware

    • Brian Wilson March 19, 2016 at 2:33 am

      I’m not advocating messing with their EULA – I was just pointing out what I see happen on many client sites. In 2012-2014, I did see a rash of audits where HP tried or threatened to crack down on violations, which pushed a lot of my clients to buy global licenses. But many still don’t and push their luck due to cost.

  9. Martin Gange March 17, 2012 at 10:00 pm

    From my experiences of using them both regularly, I would say PC does outweigh LR from many angles, and revolves around automation of tasks.
    1) Scheduling – For instance, the majority of load testing I have performed (mainly in the financial industry) include data preparing tests by running pretest work into VTS or SQL db ready for your main runs. If you have properly managed this then you can setup PC to run tasks sequentially with little or no manual involvement from the initial scheduling. It allow multiple out of hours test runs unattended.
    2) Licensing – Allows greater flexibility to your machine pool without having to worry about swapping your license agreements to your controllers.
    3) Execution Monitoring – Allows multiple users to access the same test execution session. However I do feel this needs more development such as being able to save views to set up and use on other test executions.
    4) Trending – PC comes with a trending tool which you can compare runs between test projects and once set up, you can easily import future runs for trending. Loadrunner doesn’t have anything like this out of the box, analysis is fine if you just want to compare just 2 runs but you have to develop your own trending tool once you go) beyond this.
    5) Trace-ability – As mentioned above PC acts as respository but when your running multiple projects with multiple scripts over multiple runs, the trace-ability that the PC results respository offers out weighs any manual file system.

  10. John Stewart March 27, 2012 at 12:21 am

    If you want to go messing with HP’s licensing and try to “work around” their restrictions, you are setting yourself up for a Compliance Audit, and that can cost you big bucks in fines and back support. Not to mention you are teaching your coworkers very bad habits (ethics 101). It is best to read the fineprint in the EULA’s, research HP’s license types and keep your software and staff compliant in every way.
    As for offshore/onsite…
    If you RD into the controller from a location other than the site where the controller is located – you need an Area, or an International license (depending where you are physically connecting to the controller from). HOWEVER, if you are sitting at the same ADDRESS as the controller, you can RD without worry. By HP’s definition, you can be in any one of a number of buildings as long as those buildings share the same physical address (as in some corporate “campuses”).
    Do your homework, stay compliant and don’t be “pushed” into a costly Performance Center solution that you don’t really need.

  11. harry lei April 14, 2012 at 1:21 am

    I am trying to write scripts in JavaScript but i need to know about its conversion to C so that the scripts would run in Vugen 11? Can anyone throw some light on this subject matter?

  12. Brian Wilson June 13, 2012 at 6:09 am

    Update on EULA Compliance: I’ve now executed 3 LR-to-PC conversions this year where HP has conducted an audit and mandated a conversion to PC. The or else seems to be a 7 figure fine. In all 3 cases, LR Controllers were used in multiple locations, including off-shore. I now expect to see more and more of this.

  13. Steve Cheney January 16, 2013 at 11:46 pm

    Performance Center is a pain in the @ss. With the uploading and downloading of scripts, expect it to add about 30-50% more time to your performance testing engagement over standalone LoadRunner. Also, some protocols don’t seem to work quite right. And lord help you if you need to apply a patch.

  14. Richard July 3, 2015 at 8:36 pm

    HP Performance center am facing many issues… First issue created test set and unable to edit the test. Am getting an error”This program cannot display webpage”..Is there any solutions

    • Stuart Moncrieff July 9, 2015 at 1:37 pm

      I assume your problem is due to firewall ports, or hostname resolution.

      When using Performance Center, your browser needs to be able to connect to two servers – the ALM server and the Performance Center server. I got this same error when the hostname of the PC server could not be resolved from my network location (I was using a VPN).

      Why don’t you right-click on the error page, and see what URL/server it is trying to display.

  15. Richard July 3, 2015 at 8:40 pm

    More painful nowdays in HP ALM Performance Center. After uploaded the script ALM through Vugen connect. Script name available in performance center. but partial script unable to see it in ALM. Getting an generic error”This program cannot display webpage”.

  16. Chelladurai K July 16, 2015 at 8:04 pm


    I am facing an issue to correlate set of values, The set of values below,


    from the above i have to capture Jhon and Raj but when correlating i have one more dynamic value as 123 and 1234. Those are dynamic and no of digits also different. One is 3 digit and one is four digit. Do we have any ways to correlate this kind of formats?

    please help me in this case if you can.


  17. Tony May 25, 2016 at 11:40 pm


    Had a quick question : in Performanec Center , if I have two Performance Center Servers, & 2 controller hosts, injectec etc can I run two separate load scenarios at the same time if I have enough licenses? i.e say I have 100 Web VU licenses. One Load Scenario uses the first 50 and the Second scenario uses the second 50. Possible? I’m just thinking if we had two separate projects can both of them run at the same time in PC? Identifying the real benefit of using PC.


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