Cloud computing is ready to lead the way in performance testing

News Nick Booth May 6, 2011

One area where cloud will prove to be invaluable is in testing, according to one company

Cloud Computing will clarify performance benchmarking and change the way systems are tested, for the better, according to testimony given by Verizon and SOASTA at Data Centre 2011 in Nice 
 
Mobile operator Verizon contracted service provider Soasta to test how its network would cope with the extra load when it launched its iPhone 4 to subscribers last month. Soasta  in turn used the cloud, rather than expensively acquired testing equipment, to test how the mobile network would cope.
 
Soasta uses cloud services, such as Amazon EC2, Microsoft’s Azure , IBM’s Cloud and Go Grid  to give any mobile network or application a rigorous fitness test. It’s not only a more accurate way of way of checking match fitness, it’s cheaper, said Fred Beringer, Soasta’s VP for business development. “If you buy testing equipment, it’s a massive capital outlay. Then you have to keep paying for the maintenance. With cloud services, you can book a service for two hours and get it at fifteen minute’s notice.”
 
There are three other important ways that cloud computing services make testing better, according to Beringer. In a lab, he says, testers are unable to obtain real time analysis. The gathering of performance data is a manual process, which yields its results days after the test. The benefits of real time data are that immediate changes to parameters can be made.
 
By testing an app or network externally, cloud computing based exercises can expose weaknesses at all points of the ICT stack – not just the app’s performance, but the network, the bandwidth and the servers (such as applications and database servers). “Load balancing problems are the most frequent occurrence,” said Beringer, “these are not exposed in a lab.”
 
By adopting a basket of different cloud providers from different regions, a service provider can see how the performance of a global service varies across the planet. “You may well want a service to take priority in the US, for example, because you make more revenue from that region. Cloud services give you the flexibility to do this.”
 
The cloud gives you a bigger picture but in greater detail, said Neil Cresswell, MD for Savvis  EMEA, “The cloud is much more granular, so you get much more useful service and better control.”