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Challenges of Testing in the Cloud

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In this article, we will discuss the overview and its type then emphasize testing and challenges, and will focus on Challenges of Testing in the Cloud. Let’s discuss it one by one.

Overview :
Many years ago, the IT industry witnessed the concept of “Virtualization”. With Virtualization, came the concept of sharing computing resources across multiple operating systems i.e “Cloud Computing”. This helped to increase scalability, reduce capital costs, and enable easy administration of the IT infrastructure. 

Cloud Computing :
In recent years, many organizations are moving their infrastructure to Cloud. The reason for this shift is primarily the concept of “Pay per use”. Organizations have been saving or anticipate saving a lot by moving their “On-premises” servers to the “Cloud” and thereby been able to shut down the servers when not in use. Taking an example of an e-commerce website, With help of Cloud infrastructure, there is never the case of “Too much capacity” available for “Non-peak days/Hours” or “Too less computing capacity” for “Peak days/hours”.

Types of Cloud Computing :
Just for basics, There is 3 type of Cloud formations available to choose from based on Organization/Project needs as follows.

  1. Public clouds –
    It is the ones, where the services are available to everyone, where the resources are allocated and provisioned dynamically as per the request.
  2. Private clouds
    It is generally managed within the firewall rules of a particular organization and is available only to the users within the company.
  3. Hybrid clouds
    It is a mixture of both private and public clouds. 

Testing in the Cloud :
It is an important part that needs huge and dedicated infrastructure. For Example, A testing environment is often required to be built for various releases with given specifications and integrations. Sometimes it is required to be scaled up to match to production (Example for performance testing). This testing infrastructure building requires Capital Expenditure. Further, with the increasing complexity of applications, It is very difficult for organizations to build and maintain in-house testing facilities that match real-time environments. 

Challenges of Testing in the Cloud :
The below challenges makes testing (environment) an obvious choice for movement to Cloud as follows.

  1. Performing Testing periodically – 
    Test labs in companies typically sit idle for longer periods, consuming capital, power, and real estate. Approximately 50% of the infrastructure earmarked for testing is underutilized.
  2. Safer Option while exploring Cloud movement – 
    Moving the test environments to Cloud seems to be a safer bet as there is no/minimal risk of exposing critical corporate data to the outside world.
  3. Broader Spectrum of test environment requirements – 
    Traditionally testing has been limited to websites (maybe a single browser) or desktop applications. With the advent of multiple devices, the testing spectrum has also widened. Applications are being tested on Web, Mobile, Various Operating system, and browser combinations. This has caused the demand for infrastructure to be increased. Not all projects/Clients can afford to have physical devices for each combination available and test from. Hence, movement to the cloud offers a sustainable solution. 

Moving to test environments :
Moving the testing environments to Cloud offers to solve all the above-mentioned issues in one click as follows.

  1. Pay per use – 
    Testing environments need not be available all the time. They can be built when testing is scheduled to happen in a larger scheme of things (Project plan). The environment can be brought down when not in use. Example – Weekends/Off business hours. Hence, bring the overall cost down.
  2. Environment flexibility – 
    Cloud-based testing also addresses the need for the availability of parallel environments. If a Client wants to have multiple testing projects to be run in parallel, they can spin up an environment easily with the variations at a much lower cost. They will not have to wait for servers to be freed up from earlier testing projects which are currently running. 
  3. Faster time to Market – 
    Traditionally, On-Prem servers required a lot more time to bring up/create an environment. Building an environment used to be the longest pole in the tent in project planning. This is not the case with Cloud environments. Hence, saving a lot of time in the overall project plan thereby delivering a reduced time to market for Clients.

Operational challenges :
Apart from technical challenges, there are few operational challenges as follows.

  1. Lack of Standardization – 
    Presently, there is a lack of standard solutions to integrate public cloud with internal data centers. There is a lack of interoperability too. Hence, it is difficult to switch vendors if an organization wants to.
  2. Security concerns in the Public cloud – 
    Data in the cloud may be stored in a remote location that may lie outside the company’s legal reach. 
  3. Usage –
    Improper usage, for novice organizations, may sometimes increase costs as there are limited configurations available. Organizations should perfectly analyze their needs before committing to a cloud vendor to get cost optimization.
  4. Planning – 
    Project teams and test teams should thoroughly plan the environment usage- from the assembly, utilization to disassembly. To reap the maximum benefits of Cloud, the usage has to be planned properly. 
  5. Performance – 
    As cloud infrastructure is shared, there may be scenarios that performance dips. There may be planned downtimes/maintenance windows on the cloud vendor side as well which can impact performance too.

Steps for organizations testing : 
Based on the above challenges, We need to understand that moving testing to the cloud should be a strategic decision. To gain confidence, Just like automation tools, a pilot project should be done. A thorough comparison of the cost of “On-Prem” testing vs “On-Cloud” testing should be done before taking the plunge. The below steps can help organizations testing on the cloud more efficiently as follows.

  • Build your “own” understanding of the Cloud – 
    It is important to clearly understand business needs, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of the cloud. To get more from your investment in the Cloud movement, define the clear objectives of moving a particular testing project to the cloud. 
  • Create your testing strategy –
    The strategy should define the type of tests to be performed in the cloud, the risks associated, infrastructure requirements, and the duration of the tests. 
  • Executing the test and monitoring the outcomes – 
    This is an important phase as tests get executed. Organizations should plan for optimal infra usage to get the benefits of cloud movement. Monitoring of test results will help identify if there are any performance issues or if capacity allocated to the cloud is being optimally used.
  • Closing Note – 
    Organizations should plan movement to cloud after running smaller pilot projects and getting insights as compared to the big bang movement. The cloud is well suited for testing due to its resource flexibility. Security concerns should be thoroughly analyzed before opting for public cloud infrastructure. In general, large organizations opt for Private cloud whereas small scale organizations opt for Public cloud infrastructure just to have cost benefits.  However, the sooner the movement to the cloud happens, the more advantages await you. 
Last Updated : 08 Apr, 2021
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