Unlike the past where development and testing teams were often huddled in the same room or same office, the present era is seeing an increasingly diverse workforce that often coordinates from geographically dispersed locations. In fact, almost 60% of agile testing teams are located in different regions, separated by large distances. This poses a huge problem for standard testing methods as utilizing and managing geographically dispersed resources and making them work to their optimum is a tough task. This is where cloud testing can help. With most modern businesses depending heavily on software and applications, there’s a rapid demand to deliver efficient, glitch-free end products. The cloud has emerged as a viable alternative for such a scenario. Businesses working with geographically dispersed teams can leverage the cloud to bring distant resources together and make them work, as and when needed, without any need of investing in setting up and running private networks between offshore and onshore offices or for handling proprietary communications infrastructure. This method of working doesn’t just deliver great time savings, but also removes the embedded costs of running.
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Current Test environment requirements
In the ongoing era of testing where each and every aspect of a software and application is tested, often simultaneously with multiple test environments, several criteria need to be taken care of to get results. Various important conditions which cannot be overlooked are OS versions, RAM memory size, CPU blocks, channel capacity and the different device drivers, to name a few. Another important hardware requirement is ease in portability of testing environments. Talking specifically of the test environments, there is high assortment in tests and thus testing environments. This makes it essential to have realistic replica and high fidelity of the test environment.
Many companies still use multiple physical test environments and assets for completing rigorous availability testing, integration testing and destructive testing. However, this may cause operational problems and cost overruns if the test environment’s capacity isn’t exploited fully. At times, testers have to share test environments, which slows down test cycles and makes finding bugs an increasingly difficult task, thus resulting in lower quality software. In case different teams try using the same set of resources simultaneously, logistic challenges and internal conflicts may occur. That’s why it isn’t feasible to keep multiple physical test environments.
How to have multiple test environments
Wrapping up the assortments of testing environment in one testing box was once considered to be an impossible undertaking, but the concept of Virtualization and Cloud has made it possible. Now a days Virtualization is widely used for testing. Testers now get an implicit environment, execute tests on it and share the bugs and issues quickly with the developers.
Virtualization not only allows creating n-number of user configurations and later on choosing the suitable configuration at each stage, but also allows potentially incompatible applications to be tested and tried out easily. Virtualization is usually done through two methods or cloning, i.e. liked cloning and full cloning. But this amazing technology also comes with its fair share of problems. For one, it requires special hardware to initiate few specific configurations. Equipment conflict is another hurdle in the race.
Cloud Testing is another mode of setting up isolated, identical, replicas of production environments in the public and private cloud – without requiring modification or cloud migration. It is self-service on-demand work space provisioning technology. For Cloud(Private) testing environment, the data center where the services materialize is placed inside the ken of company’s firewall. Offline Test execution is carried out in Private Cloud. In Public Cloud testing, the environment is provided via internet at a public space.
The main aim of adopting best practices is a big leap from the age-old performance, scalability and skill related issues and problems. Best Practices to set up Test Environment in the era of Cloud and Agile require:-
- Timely test environment provisioning as per specifications with varied technologies and diversified skill set is one of the important steps to allocate test environments, A Standardized testing service across all the test environments should be maintained for proper planning and steering of management of test environments.
- Capacity requirement forecasting and demanding in advance is a wise step for smooth execution and on-time project delivery.
- Effective monitoring and mapping of the test environments should be done by maintaining the list of devices and its related information, processes, methodologies and application stacks.
- Allocation and management of assets are done only in case of availability of test environment. Availability is prioritized on the basis of requirement, release cycle and reservations.
- Issue Management of Test Environment is also an integral step,especially for Conflict resolution of test environment, which usually arises when one or more project compete for the same environment or asset at the same time. It is resolved by maintaining a transient Environment reservation table, clever mapping of asset requirement and demand table and environment refresh which should be done timely to identify the unutilized space and allocate it to the next project.
- Version management through Virtual data center sculpts. Through these, a consistent version of current release, prior release and customer verification specification is maintained and is used as template. Version validation is also done to ensure all the information is up-to-date and detailed.
- On-demand degree management of environment which can be scaled up or down as per the requirements.
- Maintenance of centralized catalog of the test environment skills through an exclusive identifier to track changes and identify asset locations, especially for security management and allocation of test environments and its assets.
Despite the benefits of Cloud and Agile testing, some challenges and issues still exist in Test Environment setup and maintenance of Cloud and Agile Test Environment. Few of them are:
- The performance Testing and Scalability evaluation does not support dynamic scalability, SLA-based requirements and scalable testing environments. Maturing these testing and evaluation system with special features which are cloud-based and adaptive will assist in a good way to overcome the issues.
- Absence of QoS standards for security oriented QA for end-to-end application process. Secured QoS standards and test models, techniques and tools for security testing in clouds will be a promising solution for this issue.
- Stubbornness towards the iterative changes in requirement. Developers have now started treating requirement as prioritize stack and thus make changes throughout the lifecycle.
- Absence of a systematic solution for on-demand test environment creation. Enabling the tools to support cloud-based techniques will solve the problem to a great extent.
- Target device selection is a big challenge for testers and developers. Selection of appropriate simulators and Testing tools which are supported in the Cloud Environment will solve the issue.
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Maturing of strategies to stay relevant and enduring the pace of change will help Cloud and Agile testing to emerge as winners. The only thing to be kept in mind is the strategies should not be dogmatic. As the test beds will advance quickly, the test environments need to take a position on what the future will hold for the testing arena and plan accordingly.