I have a simple set of testing systems replicating only the software environment. The real testing system is coming along slowly. The server was a $5,000 piece of hardware I built from scratch and I clearly didn't have another $5,000 to duplicate the same thing. Two years later, I do have the few hundred bucks it now costs - but am having one hell of a time locating the same 3Ware RAID card I used. I fell asleep and missed the one I was bidding on at eBay!
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As for a load generator (which is the real requirement here)... Coming up with a simple load generator is pretty simple (the one that comes with apache - or siege for that matter) - but one that will mimic the complex activity of thousands of people bidding, buying, selling, posting items, posting messages, replying, editing images, uploading things and registering accounts is a major task.
I acknowledge that for a web developer or other professional, these things would be terribly simple to accomplish, but I'm not a web designer, web developer or programmer. I just happen to have been writing in perl for a few years and just happened to have began my exploration of the language through the building of a test auction site - which blew up in my face when thousands of people began using it.
Almost six years later, I find myself with thousands and thousands of members, thousands of auctions every day and a large need/demand for improvements yet still only my feeble brain and limited experience and knowledge to work with in the few after-work hours that I have free.