Published on The Testing Planet December 13, 2010

The adoption of Cloud Computing services promises to revolutionize the software testing industry, turning it into a more efficient and customer-friendly market

As Cloud Computing gains momentum, the testing industry is going through an overall change. While small and mid-size vendors were the first to understand the full potential Cloud services offer, large corporations remained on the sidelines. Now, there is growing evidence that big players are “testing” the water as they realize they have no other choice.

But, while the direction is clear and change is inevitable, software-testing application vendors need to take new measures to assure that the transition is carried out smoothly.

A recent report by TechNavio Insights indicates that Cloud-based applications are becoming the trend of the software market. The study claims that in reality, the testing market has already been transformed into a Cloud-based market. This is emphasized by the fact that giants such as IBM and CSS Corp are already actively using Cloud-based testing.

The authors note that companies are investing significantly in building competence in various specialized testing services including: Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) testing, Web-based application testing, Service Oriented Architectures (SOA) testing, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) testing, wireless and mobile technologies testing, and more. The report concludes that, “as the domain of software application development is increasing significantly, so is the need for testing the specialized applications.”

SaaS, TaaS and PaaS

Cloud Computing services relate to the testing industry in several ways, including SaaS, TaaS (Testing-as-a-Service) and PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service, on demand application development platform). Many companies, including large ones, that understand the significance of the Cloud revolution, intend to benefit from the newly created opportunities and adjust their services to conform to this new form.

Companies are already introducing new offerings specifically designed to be used as over-the-Net, such as SaaS and Cloud applications. This allows companies to constantly upgrade and change the selected application and adjust it to the market’s needs and come out with new versions much faster. My own company, Testuff, is releasing an updated version on a monthly basis for years, and many other companies are doing the same. This allows you to quickly respond to your client’s needs, without the need for time-consuming installations. Obviously, customers are showing less willingness to pay what they used to in advance for software and then to add servers, employees to maintain them, yearly application maintenance licenses, upgrades, and so on. These clients are right. Why should they? Why pay more if you can subscribe rather than buy, pay for usage only rather than commit? And all this, while avoiding the hassle associated with installations.

From Hardware to Software

As companies seek to improve their services, many firms, including large companies operating in traditional industries, have begun using Cloud computing for testing purposes.

In a recent interview, Juniper Network’s Asia-Pacific enterprise architect Greg Bunt cited large Singaporean enterprises, mainly from the financial industry, that use the Cloud to simulate big loads on their applications.

The widespread adoption of Cloud computing services started with hardware, but quickly spread to software, and specifically to software testing. This is evident from a close examination of the tools currently available online including: test management tools, bug trackers, automation testing, mobile unit virtualization, project management, and many others.

The transition to Cloud-based testing can reduce costs and improve overall quality, but it also poses some serious challenges. Software testing application vendors, for example, will have to ensure that they are capable of providing the same quality standards as those offered by “regular” apps.

Clearly, security needs to improve as well, and performance and availability must be superb. The challenge for the entire testing industry is huge, even without mentioning the different approach to the service (including support, upgrades and on-going maintenance) these vendors must adopt.

Unlike installed solutions, the ease of switching from one solution provider to another in the Cloud area will force vendors to raise their standards – at least those who wish to continue and be part of the market.

Customers’ Heaven

The Cloud revolution brings with it golden opportunities for customers. They will be offered much better solutions that are easier to manage, as well as improved services – all this with competitive pricing. The potential for customers is huge. For example, TaaS solutions will enable companies to re-size their testing teams on a need-basis, and significantly reduce costs. Additionally, they will be able to hire many testers at short notice for a limited time, allowing them to carry out much faster tests.

We believe there will be vendors offering solutions comprised of a combination of community access (testers) and products (testing platforms and solutions).

The future of software testing is bright. Since being recognized in the past few years as an important part of the development effort, testers are already seen as an integral part of project teams, participating in all of the project’s different phases.

This marks the last stage in the evolution of the software testing industry. Over the years, companies have gradually acknowledged the importance of testing and the whole field has become much more acknowledged. Testing professionals are currently involved in the whole development process, closely involved in all stages, thus turning them into an integral part of the development team.

New Tools and Users

Another outcome of the current trend is that the introduction of Cloud-based testing will lead to an improvement in tools quality. In the current cloud environment, many advanced testing tools are being offered, including automation tools, bug trackers and test management tools.

We have also witnessed the overall growth of the software testing field. The introduction of SaaS and Cloud allows many small companies, which previously couldn’t afford to run tests on a regular or even an ad-hoc basis, the opportunity to benefit from a full and orderly process. Companies that refrained from testing in the past and even those that tested without a clear methodology can now use SaaS applications, even for a limited time. The ability to easily change the number of licenses (subscriptions) helps these companies to adjust their expenses to their exact needs at any time. At Testuff for example we see about 40% of customers adding (or removing) subscriptions at least once a quarter.

The development of crowdsourcing has opened immense opportunities for a large number of companies to start enjoying the benefits of testing at affordable prices leading to an overall growth of the market.

In the future, the trend will intensify even further and a growing number of companies will perform (easier and cheaper) testing, increasing the number of tests, using Cloud-based solutions for the testing process.

As with any other revolution, the change will be painful for some and even devastating for others, but those that will adjust quickly and explore the emerging opportunities stand to benefit from this new and exciting period.

About Author

Arik Aharoni is the CEO of Testuff, which specializes in developing better tools for the QA and testing industry, with its flag SaaS application, Testuff Test Management Tool.