In a super-charged technology market, where intense consumer demand has led to heightened competition, organisations must balance the need for innovation and speed with the challenge of bugs and defects. So, perhaps it’s no surprise that rigorous testing is now a critical part of software development. Robust and thorough testing determines the correctness, completeness and quality of a product – and ultimately helps guarantee an organisation’s success.
But testing has also become an increasingly challenging activity. The growing complexity of business applications calls for tangled testing processes. And digital transformation requires a much broader view of the end-user; the devices they use and the conditions under which a product or service must operate.
Together with the prevalence of Agile methodologies, where facilities need to be always-on as part of the continuous integration cycle, these challenges mean that, for many, setting up and managing in-house testing facilities has become insurmountably difficult.
Managing a test facility in-house
The list of requirements for in-house test facility management is comprehensive. Companies have a swathe of responsibilities, from managing mobile devices; their contracts and maintenance – to overseeing IT infrastructure, including the cost of servers, software, OS and maintenance. And, as well as the physical hosting demands, increasing labour costs are also often prohibitive.
An Agile lab is required to be operational 24/7, often serving daily commits and verification and nightly full regression testing. And the need to mimic real user conditions means that the testing task, which includes audio connectivity, network virtualization, network connectivity, peripherals virtualization – and much more – becomes infinitely more challenging.
Migrating to the cloud
So, while it is possible to build a digital testing lab in-house, it’s an unfortunate truth that most companies will ultimately fail. Testing labs often don’t receive the required attention from local IT teams and the digital aspect introduces many factors which IT departments simply aren’t geared up for.
The good news, though, is that there is an alternative – and that’s the cloud. Cloud services give testers access to scalable and ready-to-use virtual labs with the library of operating systems, test management and execution tools, backup and storage necessary for creating a test environment that closely mirrors real life scenarios.
And importantly – cloud testing offers scalability. Companies of all sizes can handle larger projects than they normally could – and development teams can obtain the infrastructure required when an extra testing push becomes necessary, rather than spending on proprietary resources which may only be used for a specific project or for a short amount of time.
In addition to scalability, cloud infrastructure enables easier testing and monitoring of the production environment. Applications can be tested for the exact number of actual users. And extra testing for global applications is also possible. Internationalisation and localisation methods allow companies to detect where users are when they interact with an application and tailor the user experience accordingly.
Cloud testing provides organisations with the ability to refocus effort (and resources) on testing itself, rather than maintaining an in-house lab. And the rewards are evident – experts have said that companies can nearly double test efficiency by embracing a cloud model – helping bring new products and services to market more quickly.
How to get started – the importance of vendor selection
So, if cloud testing is such a compelling option, why is there still some reticence from organisations who haven’t yet made the move to the cloud? For us, cloud infrastructure, like any digital service, should be adaptable, safe and able to evolve within an agile IT environment. If it’s actually a burden or a security risk, then it’s not doing its job. Organisations – whose main business isn’t in maintaining infrastructure – need to know that they’re working with technology partners that can keep them protected from reliability or security issues.
Reassurance is required from the outset. Put simply, while cloud services can simplify your testing operations, and help re-direct resources to the things that really matter, you must trust your technology partners absolutely. When outages in service are no longer within your own ability to fix, or data leakages aren’t within your remit to control, then trust is paramount.
The important questions
When selecting a partner, organisations must ask tricky but vital questions about redundancy, uptime and reliability – and make sure that robust disaster recovery procedures are in place should the worst happen.
Our own customers tell us that the search for a partner starts with geographic location. Selecting a cloud vendor which addresses their needs in terms of regulatory requirements, the location of users – and cellular coverage – is crucial.
Second up is security. Like any other IT provider, a digital testing lab cloud provider must meet rigorous security requirements. And third is availability. While 24/7 is a mandatory requirement, making sure this is backed by SLA is important.
Making sure a vendor can support new devices and new operating systems within a reasonable time is also critical for staying on top of market needs. Requesting “same day” delivery of new OS versions or devices is possible – and often vital – in the race to market for new applications or services.
And lastly, integration is key. Your teams might be using different testing tools and solutions. It’s important that organisations ensure there is compatibility between the tools they’re using (e.g. Selenium, UFT, etc.) to the abilities of the vendor.
Support and migration – the final piece in the puzzle
So, like many other cloud migrations, moving testing to the cloud simply “makes sense”. Organisations don’t want to – and often can’t – manage an in-house digital testing lab for an Agile environment – and cloud testing presents a labour saving, cost effective solution.
But to make any migration successful the last piece of the puzzle is adequate support – to make the migration process simple. An Agile environment requires quick resolution for issues and any cloud vendor worth its salt should provide 24/7 support from experts.
So, with the right provider in place, and support reliability and maintenance guaranteed, the future of testing is bright.