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Custom Testing: Move towards pay-per-use cloud-based models

October 20, 2015
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Cloud-based software testing is an upcoming domain in the testing and measurement (T&M) industry. Under this, T&M activities are conducted by leveraging cloud technologies and solutions. Apart from offering services like IaaS, PaaS and SaaS, cloud developers are now providing cloud-based testing services to efficiently test their applications in the cloud. These cloud-based solutions are available on demand, and are offered as-a-service to customers, based on a pay-per-use model, thereby allowing them to pay only for resources used by them.

These testing solutions are gaining traction as they allow organisations to develop and maintain several in-house testing environments that emulate real-time situations, thereby providing them an insight into the quality of applications. Currently, on-premises testing requires a dedicated infrastructure that can examine the security and performance of applications. However, as business applications increase in quantity and complexity, exclusive infrastructure for testing purposes will become costlier and more time-consuming. In such a scenario, cloud-based testing can prove to be a long-term sustainable solution.

Key benefits

Reduction in capex and opex: Cloud-based testing eliminates the need for high upfront capital expenditure, which is required to set up in-house testing facilities. Testing is a periodic activity that requires new environments for each testing scenario; the conventional in-house test laboratories often remain idle for long periods of time, consuming power and space and adding to costs. As compared to traditional server-based test environments, cloud-based testing solutions help reduce cost of IT operations by utilising various automation and orchestration features. Cloud-based testing is provided as a service so that enterprises need to only pay for the hardware, software and tools that are actually used. Therefore, by shifting to cloud-based testing, organisations can offer testing environments based on their requirements at reduced costs. Further, the organisation can redirect the resources previously deployed in the in-house testing set-up to manual configuration activities for critical tasks in order to improve profit margins.

Accuracy, flexibility and agility: In the current software and application development process, agile testing methods are required that can test various environments. Under cloud-based testing, users can use modelling tools and work on various live environments. The scenarios prepared under these tests have better accuracy which improves the final production configuration, and lowers risks. Cloud-based tools also allow continuous testing in the existing development cycles, resulting in improved quality and speed to market. Testing in the cloud also offers better planning and execution, thus saving on time in deliverables.

Scalability: Cloud computing allows for scalability to meet the growing infrastructure requirements. In the case of traditional testing, high-end servers are required for performance testing and these servers generally fall short in bringing a realistic environment to test performance. With cloud testing, the test laboratory can provide as many servers as required and offer different testing environments. Therefore, instead of testing applications against a small sample of users, applications can be tested against the forecasted number of users, thereby providing realistic testing scenarios. Currently, cloud-based testing service providers can develop customised testing scenarios using various permutations and combinations. These testing environments can be simulated using different operating systems, browsers and configurations. With cloud services, suitable environments can be commissioned and decommissioned for developers without affecting the production environment.

Challenges and the way forward

Organisations opting for cloud-based testing face two key challenges – security concerns and lack of standards. Since the applications and data are stored by third-party vendors, developers have concerns regarding data loss, phishing and data integrity under such testing. In many cases, the data may be stored in a remote location beyond an organisation’s legal and regulatory jurisdiction. Also, there is no standard pricing model in place to meet customer expectations. Without having a standard process, it is difficult for organisations to compare  different cloud testing services.

Going forward, test configurations will grow in complexity to meet the demand for innovative applications in the market. While cloud provides testing facilities on a demand basis to maximise the utilisation of assets, feasibility studies still need to be carried out to determine the scenarios under which such testing can benefit organisations. Further, a cost analysis should be conducted to determine the right mix of public and private cloud-based services for testing applications.

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