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Software testing in the cloud? Meet testing as a service

Testing as a service offers the flexibility to test applications in almost any type of cloud combination you'd need. Expert tester Gerie Owen explains how it works.

Testing as a service (TaaS), like all of the "as a service" offerings, is based on the "on-demand" delivery model. Sometimes called "on-demand testing," it is an outsourcing model where organizations purchase testing services, including tools and infrastructure, on a pay-per-use basis. This offers significant cost savings, especially when compared to the standard managed services contract usually offered by testing outsourcing organizations.

Like a usual managed service offering, TaaS provides all types of testing, including functional, performance, mobile and security, and offers on-site as well as offshore resources. However, there is a twist because, with TaaS, there is now software testing in the cloud.

Testing as a service goes above and beyond by focusing on the use of cloud technology to provide a scalable and agile, yet comprehensive, test framework. There are three approaches or ways of using cloud technology in testing, the choice of which depends on the type of application used and the objectives of a test. These three approaches are testing with clouds, testing on clouds and testing over clouds.

Testing with a cloud is especially useful in web-based software testing. An application that needs testing is loaded to a cloud environment, which allows large and real-world simulations.

Testing on a cloud is used for testing SaaS applications that require multi-tenancy and security testing. In this approach, an application is deployed on a cloud infrastructure or a cloud platform for testing. Testing on the SaaS application's specific cloud technologies allows for connectivity and API testing.

Finally, testing over a cloud is used for software as a service (SaaS) applications, which have components that cross multiple types of clouds, including public, private and hybrid. In this scenario, testing takes place on a hybrid cloud infrastructure. This is a particularly valuable approach when there are many legacy systems and when a robust end-to-end test is critical.

Beyond the focus on software testing in the cloud, TaaS offers a much broader scope of services than traditional managed service contracts, especially in the areas of test tools and environment management. TaaS offers not only functional and performance automation services and tools, but licensing costs for test tools are included in a pay-per-use contract.

Security testing includes tools as well as utilities for web services and APIs. Many TaaS providers offer test platforms that include an infrastructure for testing across multiple actual mobile devices. Since all tools and services are provided "on demand," they are shared resources, which are available to all subscribing organizations.

TaaS contracts provide subscribing organizations with many options for environment and infrastructure management. TaaS vendors provide clouds on which virtual environments can be spun quickly through self-service portals. Subscribing organizations get their choice of tools for running functional and load tests from their site using their own internal resources or using a vendor's resources.

Even the most complex, multi-tiered architectures can be tested by creating virtual test laboratories, and those environments are available 24x7. This provides flexibility and scalability without the cost of hosting an infrastructure internally. Strict security controls are in place to ensure the security of each organization's data while maximizing hardware utilization.

In addition, TaaS organizations offer technical and specialized software testing in their cloud services. In the area of SaaS testing, multi-tenant modeling and test coverage analysis are available. Tracking and monitoring services offer the ability to test in, on or over clouds.

Since SaaS software must be tested according to SaaS vendors' release schedules, TaaS vendors can provide automation frameworks and services to handle ongoing regression testing. For performance and load tests, test simulation tools that monitor communication traffic and simulate load and cloud connectivity are available, as well as simulations for business workflow testing. TaaS vendors also specialize in digital and multichannel customer experience testing.

To round out their offerings, TaaS vendors provide complete test planning solutions and secure libraries to serve as repositories for test cases and test scripts, as well as on and offshore resources which include people who are fully trained in all types of testing and automation. Finally, TaaS vendors provide contract management and billing services through which subscribing organizations can manage their usage and costs.

Although the TaaS delivery model offers significant advantages over managed services models of outsourcing, it is not necessarily the right choice for all organizations looking for software testing in the cloud. For example, when significant domain expertise is required for testing, it is important to develop a group of skilled testers. However, if your organization requires SaaS testing, complex test environments and infrastructure and reduced cost, TaaS may be the best outsourcing option.

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