Cloud as a Test enabler

One of the interesting changes I see in the Testing industry is that many new companies, with newly formed Development teams (i.e. Programmers, Testers, Product etc), are automatically looking to the cloud for Testing solutions and tools.

It’s a natural process as many of these companies often power their entire infrastructure through Cloud tech. It’s an interesting change to a market which I expect to keep accelerating as teams look to cheaper, more flexible and more process agnostic tools to aid testing.

I have seen this happening for a number of years now and even see the same trend happening in the adoption of the Cloud product I test on. It seems new companies are using Cloud as an enabler and so automatically look to the Cloud for most of their software stack.

There could be a number of reasons for this but I suspect some of the main reasons are cost, the ability to scale, the freedom to change quickly and to also enable the formation of a distributed team. A central office is becoming less common and some companies are picking the “best” people for the job, rather than the “best” people within 20 miles of the office.

Reaching out to Free and Open Source software is also trending at the moment as companies strive to achieve their Testing goals with a number of considerations in mind; ease of use, support from the community, reliable SLA from commercial companies supporting Open Source, short term tie in, process agnostic solutions, niche tool solutions and a general lowering of overall operating and purchasing costs. Some of the most exciting, interesting and useful products come from the community.

It’s also worth bearing in mind for cloud, that you are buying a service which is considered an operating cost (i.e. OpEx) and not a product to add to the capital expense list (i.e. CapEx).

OpEx versus CapEx is an over simplified difference between cloud and a purchased outright tool, but it does have a number of positive financial points. A good article on the costing can be found here. Well worth a read if you’re interested in the financial side of Cloud.

There are many companies reaching out to more flexible and cost effective solutions, predominantly hosted in the cloud and offering a SaaS pricing and adoption model.

Test Management players Testuff and Practitest instantly spring to mind, along with a host of bug tracking solutions and services like Pivotal Tracker and Fogbugz.

NOTE: There are plenty of other providers too. There is a growing number of tools listed in The Software Testing Club wiki and a growing number of companies listed in The Testing Planet directory too.

Cloud technology has enabled these companies to provide a service at a cost effective price point, which when backed with SaaS payment model means Test teams can scale up or down when they need to. The tools are also flexible, offer data storage online and integrate well with other cloud based systems. These tools often have fewer features than the mainstream on premise or client based solutions, but this too is often a positive selling point.

Many big vendors are stuck with large software products requiring on-premise kit all bundled with large licence fees. They are unable to roll out new feature to their products very easily and the turnaround between customer requests and new features in the systems can be measured in years, not days. Flexibility, change and adaptive processes are the key to success for many businesses, which is why the free, Open Source and/or Cloud based products are gathering momentum.

That’s not to say the mainstream players aren’t good or successful; there are many Test teams using these tools very effectively. I’m just observing a trend. A trend I suspect will be played out with some of the offering we will see at EuroSTAR next month in Manchester. We’re already seeing some excellent cloud based tools and systems disturbing the market.

Not all teams can take advantage, or want to take advantage of cloud though. Existing hardware and in-house processes that work are good reasons not to jump.

But if you’re starting from scratch wouldn’t the cloud an obvious choice?

Let me know your thoughts on this. I’m obviously fairly biased on this through the product I test and the markets I work in.

Is cloud an enabler?
Do you use cloud products?
Are they cheaper?
Are they more flexible?
What are the downsides of the cloud?

2 thoughts to “Cloud as a Test enabler”

  1. Rob,Nice post with many good points. As the founder of a cloud tool vendor, I’m biased. Having said that, I’ll share a couple of my honestly-held beliefs:1) Deciding to offer our tool through a SaaS model is probably the single best decision we have made as a company.2) Being a SaaS provider makes it possible for us to make improvements to our tool (bug fixes, new features, incremental UX improvements, etc.) dramatically faster than it would take us as a traditional vendor.3) On a very similar note, being a SaaS provider allows us to be highly responsive to customer feedback. We regularly respond to suggestions from customers by pushing their suggestions into production within 24-48 hours. 4) Being a SaaS provider allows us to track aggregate usage volumes of new features we introduce. This can help us (a) prioritize what things we should be working on, and/or (b) make adjustments if new features don’t generate the kinds of take up volumes we expect they should.Justin Hunter (founder of Hexawise)

  2. Hi Justin,Thanks for the comment. All great points and exactly why we are in the Cloud too. It’s just so much more flexible, and coupled with an agile development process allows us to also do that same sorts of things. It’s been a real enabler for so many companies and it’s so good that tools like yours are online and accessible from anywhere. CheersRob

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