Jan Stafford recently posted on a conversation with Bernard Golden - author of IT bestseller, Virtualization for Dummies. Bernard is a strong advocate for virtualization and cloud computing technologies, but warned that it requires some new skills and has to be done right. In a brief video he said that application development is one of the areas were the cloud makes a lot of sense.
Bernard provided this example. A firm wanted to test their application and need 100 browser instances. In the old days it would have required 100 machines -- that would be a massive undertaking. Even with hardware virtualization, you would need 5 to 10 machines, and there would be some complex configuration issues. However, by putting it all in the cloud, they were able to sync up 100 virtual instances of the browsers and take them down over a weekend at a dramatic cost reduction.
However, that's just a web UI testing exercise. Bernard added that few development labs actually replicate the exact server and software environment as the target data center that will run the application in production. The cost of that set-up would be astronomical by conventional means, but that is starting to change. With Service Virtualization in a Cloud Environment, you can basically eliminate all of those downstream dependencies from the equation quite inexpensively.
In addition, development in the cloud allows you to scale up and scale down the application for testing of various load sizes without incurring hardware costs. The cloud can support more difficult testing requirements like load testing and scaling that many labs can’t scale to support. Finally, since many applications will be delivered through the cloud, testing them first this way makes sense.
To reap all these benefits, Bernard cautioned that there are several important decision such as finding the right cloud services provider. Software testers will have to acquire some new skills, and development teams have to be careful about integration with internal applications. They will also have to manage application lifecycle in the cloud. Many IT service providers have also made significant strides in delivering improvements in these areas.