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New technology introduces software testing challenges

What are the most important technologies for the software quality world? Software QA expert Gerie Owen discusses three vital technologies.

Some of the newest and most important technologies in the software quality world are the ones that create the most numerous and complex testing challenges. The top three are big data, cloud computing and mobile devices. These technologies require the same types of testing that applications need, and they require testers to go above and beyond in scope, depth and approach.

Testing big data and data warehouse systems is particularly challenging for software testers because it requires a whole new set of skills. The heart of data warehouse testing is the extract, transform and load process. The volume of data is huge, and it comes from many sources. On top of all of this, testers are challenged to work without a user interface.

Testing applications that will be virtualized -- whether within the organization or with a cloud provider -- challenges software testers to test not only the functionality, usability and integration points, but also to place special emphasis on non-functional testing. Availability, security and performance take on even greater meaning when testing virtual applications. In addition, testers must test the infrastructure of the cloud, including capacity, storage, routers, switches, Voice over Internet Protocol and APIs.

Mobile devices and the Internet of Things is probably the most important and disruptive new sector in technology. Testers deal with testing not only applications, but devices themselves. In addition to functional and non-functional testing, you must test across platforms, browsers, network connections and in various geographical locations. Usability is more important in this realm than ever before, as you must consider how the user actually interacts with the device.

These important technologies have a profound effect on the software quality world. Testing these technologies requires new skills and a whole new mindset. In order to succeed, testers must embrace the challenges presented by important technologies with creative new approaches.

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What do you think are the most important technologies for the software quality world?
I'd say the proliferation of new devices in markets that are not currently mainstream is the biggest challenge. legacy software deals with a handful of platforms, web technology is focused on browsers, but wearables, mobile devices, and the IoT devices open up a very broad amount of unique platforms to be tested and compared to other environments. 

Even with all that, the challenges don't really change the state of testing, though they require us to look at issues in a different context than we may be familiar with. frankly, that's a good challenge for any tester to take on.
Mobile has certainly made an impact on the testing world. I'm not so sure about virtual environments and big data though.
Virtual environments have both simplified and minimized certain testing aspects. Virtualization is great for a particular application that doesn't need to take system differences into account, but when a variation in, say, a video card makes a big impact on how an application performs, virtualization won't catch that, at least not to a level I've yet seen (shades of my video game testing days appearing ;) ).

1. There's less direct input (i.e. typing in data) and more indirect input (i.e. performing actions that are translated into data).

2. User Interface is no longer a screen+kb/mouse. Think mobile, wearable technology, and audio interfaces (hi, Siri).