Cloud computing has helped our teams to streamline processes in many different areas, including quality assurance (QA). Cloud-based QA has become a viable and popular addition to on-premise QA. However, cloud-based QA comes with its own unique set of challenges. Before you choose to go with the cloud, you need to know the answers to several questions: What are the benefits of cloud computing? What types of testing can be done in the cloud? How can QA specialists prepare for cloud-based testing?
In this article, we answer these and many other questions related to cloud-based testing.
Cloud-based testing uses cloud-based tools to emulate real-world user traffic and environments. Cloud-based testing can be applied for testing cloud, web, and installed applications. Providers of cloud testing services and tools offer test environments that can be configured according to application’s requirements. In addition, cloud testing has given rise to Testing as a Service (TaaS), which allows organizations to outsource their testing efforts. TaaS can be used for overall software testing as well as for conducting specialized types of testing such as performance, security, or functional testing. Before you choose any type of cloud-based testing, we suggest that you consider the benefits and challenges of cloud-based testing.
In contrast to traditional software testing, cloud-based testing has several unique advantages:
- Scalability — Cloud computing allows testers to increase or decrease computing resources according to their needs. This is very useful in cases when the client frequently changes their business requirements.
- Cost-cutting — In cloud computing, you pay only for those resources that you use. This means that there’s no need to invest in expensive equipment and spend money maintaining and upgrading it. You can just use the testing environment that you need right now and pay only for that environment. You can have all the software and hardware you might need at your disposal while only paying for it when you actually use it.
- Timesaving — With cloud-based testing, an application can be simultaneously run on different hardware so testers can spend more time fixing defects.
- Easily customizable — By using cloud-based tools and services, testers can easily emulate an end-user-centric environment with minimum cost and time. The test team can perform various types of testing in any combination of device environments.
- Properly configured test environment — It usually takes much time to properly set up a test environment on multiple devices. Moreover, any errors made during environment configuration can be repeated across all devices. Fortunately, you can avoid this by using cloud-based tools that have been preconfigured by their provider, saving your time and money.
- Ensure comprehensive testing — In order to conduct comprehensive testing, the test team needs to run an application on all possible devices that support different platforms, operating systems, and browsers. Cloud-based testing provides you with all these devices and configurations, eliminating the need to purchase all of them.
- Faster testing — Cloud-based testing tools ensure automated testing, which greatly reduces the time to market for software. This is achieved thanks to the ease of building testing infrastructure, increased collaboration within the test team thanks to real-time reports, and efficient testing.
- Constant availability — Software testing in the cloud is available to testers at any time. Testing can be performed anytime and anywhere, so testers can speed up software deployment and testing.
- Better team collaboration — Cloud-based testing allows software companies to better implement DevOps, which requires collaboration between developers and testers. In the cloud, testers can spin up test environments with different configurations and data and automate testing processes using such tools as Docker and Heroku.
Although cloud-based testing has many benefits for assuring application quality, this way of testing also has its challenges that should be considered beforehand. Let’s look closer at operational challenges that testers should be ready to overcome before they can reap the advantages of testing in the cloud:
- Lack of standards — There are still no universal solutions for how testers can integrate internal resources of their companies’ data centers with public cloud resources. Since public cloud providers develop their own architectures and operating models, these cloud services have little interoperability. Thus, testers may face challenges if they want to switch cloud vendors because cloud vendors don’t offer the same services.
- Security and privacy concerns — Security in the cloud still raises many concerns as encryption techniques are far from perfect. Though cloud providers can offer to test in private clouds, there are still concerns about the security of data that may be stored in a remote location beyond a company’s legal jurisdiction.
- Potential availability issues — While providers guarantee round-the-clock availability of their services, even the least bit of downtime can cause negative consequences to your testing processes. For instance, in 2013, Amazon Web Services went down for less than half an hour, but during that time thousands of companies were unable to test properties that required access to AWS.
- Service-level agreements — Vendors of cloud-based tools provide terms and conditions of their cloud services that differentiate the responsibilities of the vendor and the cloud user. Though these terms are necessary, they are often written in a biased and misleading way. Pay close attention to such conditions as data integrity, data preservation and transfer.
- Infrastructure issues — Before choosing cloud-based testing tools, make sure the provider offers you all the configurations, technologies, and storage you need. It may be difficult to emulate customer environments if you discover that some configurations aren’t supported by the provider. Moreover, creating a test environment that includes all the necessary settings and data can be time-consuming for testers.
- Hidden costs — Though vendors inform their clients about prices for their cloud-based services, the improper use of test environments may significantly increase your costs. In order to avoid hidden costs, testers should thoroughly plan their test environments, take into account additional costs such as for data encryption, and monitor the use of cloud resources.
In the cloud environment, any application can be subjected to the following types of testing:
- Functional testing to ensure that software meets functional requirements
- Non-functional testing to ensure the quality of service
- Ability testing to show whether users will receive application services from the cloud environment on-demand
Functional software testing checks all the features and functions of software and its interaction with hardware. For conducting functional testing, testers can use such tools as Rapise, Sauce Labs, and TimeShiftX. These cloud-based software testing tools use the following techniques:
- System testing — This testing technique evaluates a system’s compliance with functional and system requirements. It analyzes the system’s behavior and design and how it meets the customer’s expectations.
- Acceptance testing — This proves that the application meets certain needs of its users.
- Integration testing — This testing ensures that the application is compatible with different platforms and works well when moving from one cloud infrastructure to another.
Non-functional testing is also known as performance testing, as it allows you to check the non-functional aspects of software like its performance, usability, and reliability. For conducting this type of testing, you can use cloud-based tools such as CloudTest, AppPerfect, CloudTestGo, and AppLoader. These testing tools offer the following types of non-functional testing:
- Business requirement testing — Cloud applications are based on business requirements, so organizations should carefully examine what they want from a cloud solution before developing it. This testing technique verifies how precisely an application meets the specified business requirements. This technique also includes cloud availability testing, which ensures that the application experiences no downtime.
- Security testing — This type of testing is necessary for ensuring that data is stored and transmitted safely. Security mechanisms of applications are tested according to three criteria: effectiveness, accuracy, and performance. The most popular tools for testing security in the cloud are Nmap, Nessus, and Wireshark.
- Scalability and performance testing — While cloud solutions should be scalable on demand, this type of testing ensures that the application performs correctly with various numbers of users. During load testing, testers measure software response time while the system is subjected to increasing load. It’s also necessary to check how the application will work under excessive stress, so stress testing should also be executed. If you want to measure the application response delay after deploying it in the cloud, then you can conduct latency testing.
Ability testing is necessary to verify whether users really receive application services on demand. To check this, the test team can conduct the following types of testing:
- Compatibility and interoperability testing — This testing evaluates the application’s compatibility with various environments and platforms.
- Disaster recovery testing — Disasters are unpredictable and may cause application downtime. Disaster recovery testing allows you to evaluate disaster recovery time and ensure that the application becomes available to users again with minimum data loss.
- Multi-tenancy testing — This testing verifies whether the application can ensure a sufficient level of security and access control when multiple users invoke to it in the cloud.
Cloud-based tools for ability testing include ClickTest, BrowserStack, Quorum, and CloudArray.
Testing in the cloud can be more beneficial for organizations than testing on-premise. The following tips may be helpful for testers in getting ready to use cloud-based testing tools:
- Set clear objectives — Cloud-based testing has both advantages and disadvantages, and you can benefit from it only when you have a clear understanding of your business needs. Testing in the cloud requires closer cooperation between developers and testers in order to conduct all necessary tests throughout the software development lifecycle. Having clear objectives when testing a particular application in the cloud will let you get more from your cloud investment.
- Create your testing strategy — Before you move your project to the cloud, decide what kinds of tests you want to perform, how much time they’ll take, and what risks they may bring. This testing strategy allows you to better estimate your testing budget and avoid unexpected costs.
- Plan your infrastructure — When creating your testing strategy, you should also think about the infrastructure requirements that are necessary for building a test environment. Make sure that cloud-based services provide the required testing tools, software, hardware, and bandwidth. It’s also important to determine how long you will need the test environment in this configuration and whether any changes to it will be required.
- Select a reliable provider — When you’re looking for cloud-based testing tools, look at each provider’s guarantee of security, quality, and reliability. It’s better to choose a provider with considerable experience that ensures quick set-up and tear-down of test environments. Pay attention to the range of services offered, which should include physical infrastructure, testing tools, licenses, and thorough provisioning.
- Determine service access — It may not be a good idea to provide access to cloud-based services to only one tester, as this person will become responsible for all issues that may happen during testing. To eliminate this risk, provide service access to several testers. However, it’s better to limit people’s access to testing services to what is required for doing their jobs in order to avoid service overuse and additional costs.
- Use free trials — Most providers of cloud-based tools offer some sort of free trial. For instance, Micro Focus, BrowserStack, and Sauce Labs allow testers to experiment with how cloud testing tools will work with a tester’s toolchain. Free trials will also let you learn more about the advantages and disadvantages of each service.
- Monitor and analyze test results — While testing in the cloud allows constant service availability, it’s better to monitor test results in real time. By analyzing results in real time, testers can quickly react to capacity- or performance-related issues.
Cloud-based testing allows organizations to significantly reduce their costs and time for software testing, but it also includes some risks and challenges that should be considered before deploying your software to the cloud. Quality testers can better prepare for testing in the cloud when they’re familiar with types of cloud testing and existing cloud-based tools for software testing. Apriorit has a qualified team of quality assurance specialists whom you can trust with testing your software solution.