What is the best way to load/stress test a web application for high traffic

Hi!

We are launching a web app that is expected to have high traffic and I'm looking for guidance on the best method to stress/load test the site.  We are using a 5 server setup with 1 DB server and 4 load balanced web servers.

The app is simple with 3 pages.  1 home page, 1 donation page (like a checkout that submits to payment gateway), and one order confirmation page.  The home page has a lot of graphics and social media embedded.  

I found many services online from free to thousands of dollars!

Most importantly I need to test for high spikes in traffic (10k during an hour)  but I would like the ability to increase the testing load just to see how the servers are performing.  

It would also be nice to be able to emulate the checkout process during a stress test using the gateway sandbox.

Any suggestions or guidance would be extremely appreciated!

THANKS
lthamesAsked:
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Shalom CarmelCTOCommented:
You will find it xtremely difficult to load test with only open source tools, especially the transactional bit. And that's assuming you know how to do it.
If you were to do load testing on a regular basis. it would make commercial sense. As it is, I recommend that you use a professional service like Keynote www.keynote.com or loader.io
Keynote has the benefit of running transactions like checkout processes, but loader.io is mostly free.

There is also a bunch of tools listed here
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Load_testing#Load_testing_tools
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