Cloud infrastructure, platforms and software have remade how a large chunk of enterprises and small businesses conduct their IT operations. Rather than build out complex systems on-premises and deal with the associated costs of upkeep and licensing, organizations have opted for the remote on-demand resources, elasticity and predictable billing of cloud-based testing solutions to scale their activities while lowering their total cost of ownership.
Software and quality assurance testing have been no exceptions to the cloud's growing influence. In these fields in particular, cloud can give an agile team everything it needs - i.e., compute, storage and networking - in a matter of minutes, rather than days or even weeks. This immediacy of the cloud is one of its most appealing characteristics. Let's look at how cloud testing environments can be put to work as part of a streamlined QA regimen and test management strategy.
What is a cloud testing environment?
Performing software testing in the cloud means tapping into flexible self-service infrastructure that is hosted off-premises (public cloud), behind the corporate firewall (dedicated/private cloud) or in both places (hybrid cloud). Unlike legacy systems, cloud-based products and services are built with scalability in mind, meaning that they should be able to provide plenty of extra capacity as needed and also be easy to use for anyone from a programmer to a product manager.
Ideally, a cloud testing environment is helpful in testing the security, performance and third-party dependencies of modern applications. Since the underlying assets of the cloud - i.e., its servers, databases and networks - are predominantly accessed and managed through software, testers get a lot of flexibility in how they approach each case, with benefits such as:
The cloud can be a one-size-fits-most for testing scenarios. Instead of investing in bespoke hardware and software for each application, organizations can instead tweak their cloud environment to square with the requirements at hand. Emulation is straightforward and teams no longer have to fret about not being able to match what the end user will ultimately see.
"With the usage of cloud, it is a rather easy task for organizations to emulate an end-user-centric environment by customizing it as per use saving cost and time," explained the author of a guide for Software Testing Help. "Test teams can easily perform load and performance testing scenarios in various permutations and combinations like different OSes, browsers, configurations, etc."
Cloud solutions are often billed based on usage or via a flat rate monthly/annual subscription. This business model can save the customer a lot of money that would have otherwise been wasted on underutilized servers and Byzantine software licensing agreements.
A presentation from RapidScale estimated that 84 percent of CIOs have cut application dev/test costs by shifting from on-premises to cloud testing environments. Similarly, small businesses may be able to reduce their energy costs by 90 percent by switching to cloud, thanks to reduced electricity spend on IT infrastructure.
Companies grow, user populations change and applications are updated. It almost goes without saying that dev/test methodologies must keep pace with these shifts, especially when it comes to their ability to accommodate new features and additional end users.
Cloud testing is all about simplifying the creation of a dev/test environment, so that no matter how rapidly software evolves the QA team is not left behind. Some major infrastructure-as-a-service providers have realized the opportunity here to supply organizations with the resources needed to test applications of any size for any platform or stack.
Cloud testing environments for today and tomorrow
Ultimately, testing in the cloud should enable teams to meet all the requirements they could when using their old environments, while at the same time giving them a foundation to support new endeavors down the road. What cloud testing means will change from one company to the next, much like the meaning of "cloud" itself.
Environments may be housed remotely, on-premises or within hybrid cloud arrangements. Regardless of the exact configuration, QA teams will expect a high level of elasticity, self-service and pooled resources that together will make QA management a lot easier than ever before.