The Internet of Things sounds like a futuristic dream seen in the movies - machines will be able to communicate with each other and tell the owner if a part needs to be replaced or repaired. These capabilities have made IoT a buzzword across the IT landscape, but the fact is that this trend is already making a significant impact on how people and their tools operate. In accordance with this shift comes more changes in the processes of software testing to ensure that everything functions as expected and communicates effectively.
Investment from power players
One sign of the encroaching importance of IoT comes in the form of investments made by tech giants like Amazon and IBM. Both of these organizations are taking a focused approach to embracing IoT, so it's imperative to understand how each is strategizing for this trend:
- Amazon: The Dash Button from Amazon has become the company's foothold in the world of IoT. This product is a Wi-Fi-connected product button that can be applied to home appliances, and enables the owner to reorder items for that appliance with just the press of the button, according to Forbes contributor Dave Altavilla. Running out of K-cups for your coffeemaker? Just use the Dash Button, and an order will be instantly placed.
One other move that Amazon has made in the IoT space is the acquisition of 2lemetry - a startup that has developed a platform dedicated to tracking and managing IP-enabled machines, as well as other connected devices. While some experts believe this move will be funneled into AWS support, it certainly could have a significant effect on adapting to IoT demands, TechCrunch stated.
- IBM: Over the next four years, IBM aims to invest $3 billion dollars in its IoT division. This funding will help build out the organization's cloud-based open platform that is used to build IoT solutions for clients and ecosystem partners. Users would then be able to integrate data from an unprecedented number of sources, and enable them to act on valuable insight.
IBM's cloud offerings are being expanded to better handle the influx of IoT data. Its Bluemix platform-as-a-service, for example, will allow developers to easily integrate their information into their cloud and related apps. This can lead to better decision-making and the enrichment of current business processes through real-time data.
Software testing and IoT
The IoT is swiftly taking over everyday objects like refrigerators, cars and other appliances. Software testers can no longer think of it as just a trend, but a reality that they must consider during their evaluation processes. LogiGear Magazine noted that quality assurance teams will likely see challenges like on-the-job training due to the rapid change of the IoT environment. After all, they must now test a variety of devices on unknown or new platforms, which can make it difficult to set up scripts ahead of time. However, there are some steps that organizations can take, such as using test management to report on what has been evaluated and what areas pose potential risks.
LogiGear noted that there are several considerations for testers to make when it comes to IoT including:
- Strong testing practices in place, making it easier to start IoT test cases. Unit testing, detailed user stories, clear requirements and great communication must be a part of your processes if you want to test for IoT effectively.
- Tools to accommodate new challenges like lack of UI. Users could literally be using anything from their cars to their fridges as well as smartphones to connect, making it essential for programs to be ready for any interface.
- Knowledge of grey box testing to glean more information for better testing. Be sure to read up on new technologies and share information across teams. This will help perform better grey box testing and improve project quality.
- Opportunities to improve communication and knowledge sharing across QA. The IoT encapsulates many different facets, so having an information sharing process will be beneficial in keeping members updated on how issues have been fixed in the past and how to prepare for the future.
- Customization of tools to ensure it fits specific platforms. For automation of IoT testing especially, finding a specific resource may not be possible, which makes customization essential to these processes.
"There is no magic answer for how to test the IoT," LogiGear stated. "It is complicated with many unknowns, but it is also exciting. Adding Internet connectivity to embedded systems will build skills to take you far into testing in the 21st century. Seek information. Build skills in a variety of test types, platforms and tools."
Although there are a number of challenges QA professionals will experience in the IoT environment, they must be prepared to think analytically and test projects to their full extent. The IoT is becoming more prominent, and testers need to have the tools to effectively handle this trend while ensuring that apps live up to quality expectations.