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Agile Testing: Exploring the concept of testing-as-a-service

1. What is Testing as a Service?

Testing as a Service or TaaS provides remote test resources and cloud technologies for fast, scalable and technically agile testing on a pay-per-use model.

TaaS is ideal for organisations that do not want to invest in their own test resources, tools and infrastructure. It's also used by organisations that want to access testing services on demand, or regularly consume well-defined testing work packages from third party service providers.

It covers a range of testing, from specialist end-to-end security or performance testing of code and applications to the provision of test tools, test environments and test assets on a 'managed' or 'self-service' basis.

2. Why did SQS decide to launch its TaaS service now?

Increasing numbers of our clients are adopting cloud services and recognising the benefits of the 'as a service' approach. Clients are also developing more dynamic, distributed and component-based business applications in response to consumers' demands for applications that are easier to use, flexible and more connected to real-time data.

There is an appetite for just-in-time, on-demand testing solution that helps clients to meet project deadlines using a scalable and flexible commercial model. As more of these complex applications are brought to market quickly, organisations are recognising the importance of quality and discovering that they need to execute software testing more rapidly or at a larger scale than before.

We have already started to deliver TaaS for software code audits and large scale performance testing of web applications, where our new TaaS clients are benefiting from reduced project timescales and testing costs. Today, we are ready to supply our test expertise, tools, infrastructure and relationships with technology partners to additional clients.

4. What does the service do/how exactly does it work?

Taking Performance Testing as a Service, which is just one facet of the overall SQS TaaS offer, as an example: a client may identify the need to test web and mobile applications at short notice, with minimal investment in people or tools. SQS and the client agree project scope and cost, and work can begin the same day.

The Performance Testing as a Service can be used to test an application before go live to ensure that it has the performance capacity to meet demand, or identify the point at which the application will break under peak load. Whatever the business objective, throughout the project, SQS draws on the specialist skills of performance test consultants within near- and offshore test centres in locations such as Belfast, Northern Ireland and Pune, India.

During the entire process, the SQS Test Engineer has access to innovative cloud testing technologies such as SOASTA's CloudTest and public cloud resources to support the delivery of the testing services.

5. Why did SQS form a strategic partnership with SOASTA?

SOASTA (opens in new tab) is the leader in cloud and mobile testing, with ambitious growth plans and a reputation for innovation in performance testing as a service. Our new partnership provides SQS with access to SOASTA's products and software development skills, which, together with our testing experience and knowledge, enable us to take a truly exciting offering to market.

6. What are the three major trends in software quality and testing today?

The key trends are low-cost outsourcing of testing services, test automation and a focus on early-lifecycle testing. Overall there is an increased demand for lower cost, scalable and flexible offsite/hosted testing services. More organisations are also starting to use automated testing to increase test coverage, save time, reduce costs, and introduce quality earlier in the software development lifecycle to find defects during initial development stages.

7. How does TaaS fit into these trends?

Our TaaS offering directly addresses the increase in demand for low cost, outsourced testing services and also provides a more flexible model for the procurement of testing services.

Performance TaaS is highly automated and scalable. Through TaaS, our clients can introduce testing early in a project, as SQS doesn't need pre-ordered infrastructure and software licenses. We are also using cloud based technologies to make the process of setting up and executing tests faster as we can integrate quickly with development code repositories and continuous integration tools during the testing process.

8. What problems does Performance TaaS solve?

When IT projects overrun, the size of the window available for testing is often one of the first casualties. Quality is regarded by some as a luxury and testing (particularly performance testing) is seen by many as an unnecessary expense; it can be compared to car insurance – it doesn't matter if you don't have it unless you crash, then you wish you had it because the cost of fixing far exceeds the cost of insurance.

TaaS provides testing on-demand, at low cost and, perhaps most importantly, with shortened lead times and development timelines. This provides organisations with the opportunity to engage testing quickly.

Performance TaaS also removes the need for capital expenditure or long term investment in specialist testing skills. In addition, it enables tests to be conducted that previously would have been cost prohibitive due to the potential infrastructure demands and license implications.

When timelines slip and testing becomes squeezed, there are two likely outcomes to the problem. The first is that the business decides to keep costs down and de-scopes testing. This introduces additional risk to the business. The second is to raise a change request for more budget and potentially delay a published go-live date.

9. What particular benefits does Performance TaaS provide to end users?

The end user will benefit from better performance and quality of their application, website, software or IT systems through the use of TaaS.

TaaS itself delivers many benefits. In summary, it is a much lower cost means of conducting performance testing than traditional methods. The nature of the service means there is a quick turnaround, it is fast to deploy and gain business benefit from with no capital expenditure overheads to the business as all work is done remotely offsite.

The Performance TaaS service will benefit all industries, however sectors that are made up of organisations with less appetite to invest in testing or with small budgets for testing may derive greater benefit. Those who are typically always developing new software and upgrading systems against tight go to market timescales will always benefit from the SQS TaaS offerings.

10. Can you give us an example of how the service is being used?

Organisations are typically drawing on this specialist service where they have tight timescales for software releases and require confidence quickly in the ability of their software solutions to perform as expected when they go live.

It is expected that clients who come late in the lifecycle are under significant pressure to get a quick result. A key point is that organisations also use this service to test against production systems as opposed to test environments where they will see real world results.

The requirements we are seeing are often a one-off test but, for the client, this can demonstrate the value for integrating the service into their on-going software quality management and testing processes.

Désiré Athow
Désiré Athow

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.