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New cloud testing tools cut app development time, costs

There's a confluence between cloud and mobile testing and support for it in the cloud because of the ability to create production environments without the need and configuration costs of on-premises infrastructure.

Application testing has evolved alongside cloud computing, and that shift has changed the market for vendors and customers alike.

The cloud's scalability and on-demand availability allows testing to take a variety of forms, from tools to check on-premises applications to cloud-native applications tested on other cloud platforms. And as IT pros look to keep pace with rapid development cycles, cloud vendors of all sizes are trying to find a role in this evolving piece of application development.

"We're going to see this market continue to evolve as the computing platforms continue to evolve," said Thomas Murphy, research director for Gartner, Inc., based in Stamford, Conn.

Market research firm IDC, based in Framingham, Mass., predicts the automated software quality (ASQ), software as a service (SaaS) and cloud testing market to reach $1 billion by 2017. HP and other vendors that dominated the traditional testing market are making inroads in cloud testing, and major cloud infrastructure providers have added test features as part of a broader effort to have a greater stake in application lifecycle management, analysts said. 

Amazon Web Services (AWS) rolled out CodePipeline and a series of developer-centric testing tools last November, while Microsoft provides its own testing environment in Azure.

Meanwhile, smaller testing as a service vendors such as SOASTA, Inc., Neotys USA, Inc. and BlazeMeter have expanded their offerings to keep pace, including added continuous delivery and data analytics features. Management vendors such as Keynote Systems LLC and Compuware are also doing more to edge into testing.

"That's the challenge in the market now," Murphy said. "However many years ago this started there were only a few companies that could do this, but every year there are more companies that can."

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Has cloud computing changed the way you test your applications?
Cloud computing and application testing have evolved in their scalability and on-demand availability which allows testing to be done in different forms including on-premises applications and cloud-native applications. Cloud computing has initiated the continuous delivery of data analytics features for testing purposes in a production environment without extra configuration costs. Cloud computing has enabled application lifecycle comparison which reduces costs and speeds up development or enhancement of required infrastructure to realize best performances.
With respect to functional testing, not yet, although we have begun planning and preparing to move in that direction. With respect to performance/load testing, cloud computing has changed the way we test quite a bit. One of the major shifts we made was from a predominately LoadRunner shop to using both LoadRunner and SOASTA. The use of SOASTA allows us to be more agile and responsive in addressing business needs without many of the obstacles (such as punching holes through the firewall) and costs (maintaining servers in a remote data center that were only used once a year). It also helps us address issues such as generating geographically distributed load on the content delivery network provider's servers rather than on our source servers, thereby better simulating actual load.
There are two points to be made with respect to successful development and testing when leveraging the cloud. 

First, you should recognize that different applications will have different resource profiles and will experience a different quality of service and performance on the different cloud service providers.  Finding a tool that can match your application profile to the characteristics of the CSP is key to maximizing performance. 

Second, if you develop in the cloud but then port the application back into your private hosting environment, you better make sure you understand the relative performance your application will receive. Again, being able to see how well the application profile matches the platform performance is key. 

Cloud testing has allowed us to parallelize a lot of our testing in ways that would have been prohibitive if done on our premises. As our product is phasing out (or at least lessening) a focus on dedicated hardware on customer sites, it's become critical to look at how we test and how we deploy our applications, and the performance of said applications in the cloud.
The cloud is exploding! I'm interested to see how the sharing from B2C & B2B within the cloud changes with big data expertise increasing.
The one area I've seen the most interest in for cloud testing tools has been the ability to performance test from the cloud.  That seems like a phenomenal idea, especially if a company doesn't want to maintain infrastructure just to run performance testing regularly.
As a regular user of Sauce Scout, I appreciate the ability to spin up multiple virtual instances and play with the same site in a variety of different environments. It's not as fast as a dedicated environment, but it more than makes up for it with flexibility and configuration options.
Check out SOASTA for mobile app testing, and Sauce Labs or Shippable for a broader set of apps (with CI/CD).