Test before you tread (on a cloud)

Are we moving to the cloud without testing applications thoroughly enough?

In much the same way as most of us plug in a new electrical device without reading the instruction booklet, it would appear that too many cloud applications are being deployed without a thorough pre-analysis and testing period.

Microsoft has been vocal on this subject of late, logically pointing to its ‘Local Azure’ emulator, which exists as part of the Windows Azure SDK. This service is designed to enable software programmers to test on their machine, rather than having to deploy every build to the cloud for testing. 

Mark Quirk, Azure product manager at Microsoft UK underlines the fact that the Azure platform is a Platform-as-a-Service and so naturally provides cloud-specific capabilities above the operating system layer, so having this local test environment can make a huge difference to a developer’s productivity.

“In terms of design considerations at the testing stage, the ‘Plan & Design’ area of the Azure site is a key resource -- as well as the Microsoft ‘Patterns & Practices’ zone, which provides two sets of guidance for building cloud based applications with Azure,” said Quirk.

Microsoft is of course keen to try to alleviate testing concerns and point users to its Azure Marketplace where there are applications, components and data sets all on offer.

Addressing what Microsoft’s Quirk describes as the cloud testing and development challenge, he says that one of the main challenges with creating cloud apps is the process of development itself.

"Taking the initial idea and architectural design through to live deployment across multiple servers, databases, connections, communication channels, load balancers and firewalls, not to mention internal policies and rules is a big task. With Azure, you create a document that represents the service model and submit it to your Azure data centre. Before you know it, the whole complex infrastructure has been sorted for you and the app is running and available to users,” said Quirk.

Microsoft is of course not the only voice on testing for cloud applications; Skytap this summer announced integration with HP’s ALM 11 suite to enable developers to stress test new apps. Its Virtual Lab service offers “thousands of simulated end users” in the cloud to test-drive software before it is pushed to live production environments.

To speak for the whole industry here if we may, there is surely a collective prayer going out that these cloud testing technologies will now start to help us build more beautifully formed and more functional clouds all round. 

Read more about:

Sign up for our free newsletter