Cloud testing

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Cloud testing is a form of software testing in which Web applications that leverage Cloud computing environments (“cloud”) seek to simulate real-world user traffic as a means of load testing and stress testing web sites. The ability and cost to simulate Web traffic for software testing purposes has been an inhibitor to overall Web reliability. The low cost and accessibility of the Cloud’s extremely large computing resources provides the ability to replicate real world usage of these systems by geographically distributed users, executing wide varieties of user scenarios, at scales previously unattainable in traditional testing environments.

Companies simulate real world Web users by using Cloud Testing services (provided by Cloud Service vendors such as Cloud Testing, SOASTA, Keynote Systems and Cloud-Intelligence). Once user scenarios are developed and the test is designed, these service providers leverage Cloud servers (provided by Cloud Platform vendors such as Amazon.com, Google, Rackspace, etc.) to generate Web traffic that originates from around the world. Once the test is complete, the Cloud Service providers deliver results and analytics back to corporate IT professionals through real-time dashboards for a complete analysis of how their applications and networks will perform during peak volumes.

Cloud Testing Limited is a UK based company who provide Functional Website Testing from the cloud. Users can write their own scripts for running on the Cloud Testing servers using real browsers, and see the results of the tests, including browser screen captures, HTML source and detailed diagnostic information for all components (HTTP headers, timings etc.).

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Testing in the cloud is often discussed in the context of performance or load tests against cloud-based applications. However, all types of software application tests, be they performance, functionality, usability, etc., are eligible to be referred to as 'cloud testing' if the following is true: 'The testing entity is targeting an application which resides on a third-party computing platform and is accessing that platform across the internet.' Cloud computing itself is often referred to as the marriage of Software as a Service (Saas) and Utility Computing. In regard to test execution, the software offered as a service may be a transaction generator and the cloud provider's infrastructure software, or may just be the latter.

Leading cloud computing service providers include, among others, Amazon, 3-terra, Skytap, and SOASTA. Some keys to successful testing in the cloud include (a) understanding a platform provider's elasticity model/dynamic configuration method, (b) staying abreast of the provider's evolving monitoring services and Service Level Agreements (SLAs), (c) potentially engaging the service provider as an on-going operations partner if producing commercial off the shelf (COTS) software, and (d) being willing to be used as a case study by the cloud service provider. The latter may lead to cost reductions.

An evolving cloud testing community is forming under the auspices of the Software Testing & Quality Assurance group hosted by LinkedIn. Testing professionals openly share their experiences and exchange ideas related to cloud testing in order to enhance one anothers' proficiencies.

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