With the onset of cloud computing and utility-based pricing, “as-a-service” solutions are becoming more popular. HP has recently added Testing-as-a-Service as an outsourcing alternative for complex testing needs.
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For the past 10 years or so, HP has provided Managed Testing Services, which offer a variety of testing services including staff augmentation or full-testing-service solutions, with pricing based on people-hours. The difference with the TaaS solution is that the pricing is “consumption-based.”
I spoke with Paul Ashwood of HP Enterprise Services, who explained:
The “as-a-service” model is all about consumption of service, which means you need to have a lot of repeatable activity. And when you’re doing the development of application, there’s a lot of new stuff there that you can’t really price. Where we apply TaaS is more around applications that are already in production where you need to do regression testing. Regression testing is well served by test automation. Test automation and test regression is all very repeatable.
The services that HP is offering in their TaaS Solution include:
1) Accelerated Test Service – Regression test automation. Pricing is based on test cases rather than the cost of people. The service also includes the maintenance and execution of the automated test cases.
2) Performance Test Service – Pricing is based on Performance Test Units (PTUs.) PTU values are based on things like the number of the steps in the test case or the number of virtual users, etc. Clients pay for what they use, rather than having to purchase the tools themselves.
3) Application Security Testing – Leverage WebInspect to for penetration testing and the Fortify tool to do code scanning. The price is per assessment or Website. The client doesn’t need to pay for the tools.
4) SAP Test Service – Accelerated Test and Performance Test specifically for SAP. HP has built out common business scenarios and common test cases for SAP.
The advantage to the client is that they are paying for what they use rather than paying for people or tools who may not be needed during certain downtime periods.
This type of solution is typically used post-production for mission-critical applications. As Ashwood points out, the solution does not depend on a relationship with specific people, and the success of their model includes having “test factories” in various countries and the ability to move resources to where the need is.
What is key to these models is the concept of a factory approach. So rather than the client saying, ‘I’m buying 20 of your test automation engineers for the next two years,’ instead what they’re buying is 20,000 executions of automated test cases over the next two years. So the people are not tied to a client anymore.
Obviously, this is a different approach than the tight coupling of developers and testers that is encouraged in Agile development models. Ashwood agrees that this model is not conducive to new development work, but, again, it is cost-effective for specialty testing of mission-critical applications.
Rona Shuchat, Director of Application Outsourcing Services at WW IDC Services Research Group say has this to say about TaaS solutions:
The reality around testing as a service or on demand testing as some refer to it, is that different vendors are positioning different offerings under this term “TaaS” or “On Demand Testing”. Companies like SOASTA, for example, are pushing a cloud based test service, also on demand, that is focused on performance testing and load testing – where multiple load generators can be combined to enable scalability out to hundreds or thousands of virtual users. SOASTA promotes its real-time BI engine to capture and report out on performance metrics. This service can be purchased for x hours, or monthly or annually.
A company like Skytap is also offering cloud based on demand test lab environments, and are positioning their cloud service as on demand virtual data centers that can drive parallel dev/test requirements or positioning as a test environment on demand to support unit testing, system testing, UAT or performance testing. We also see prepackaged domain solutions being offered under the term “TaaS” – for SAP, or other ERP solutions (e.g. Infosys, HP, etc. ). Perfecto Mobile offers automated testing solutions for mobile devices, enabling mobile developers to test mobile apps and content on a range of real devices over the web and so on.
For more about Testing-as-a-Service, read Testing-as-a-Service: Outsourcing your specialized software testing.