The cloud to the rescue in .NET

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The cloud to the rescue
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dynamically scale using the elasticity of the cloud, but also put yourself in position to accelerate your development and testing.
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Accelerating development and testing
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Whereas we ve been highlighting the merits of the cloud for production operations, the rest of this chapter will focus on how the cloud changes the software when testing is done. Before diving into specific types of testing, let s explore the two primary reasons you should consider cloud-based testing: cost savings and test acceleration.
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Remember that half of the $22,500 of hardware purchase in the earlier hypothetical testing environment was for testing and staging, both used for a variety of QA and testing. But that hardware is unlikely to be used 100 percent of the time. Let s assume that both environments are needed only 50 percent of the time during normal business hours. That comes out to approximately 1,000 hours per year of required usage. Table 7.2 compares physical hardware utilized 100 percent of the time (24 hours 365 days) to that of equivalent cloud-based deployments.
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Table 7.2 Comparing staging and testing cloud fees to production hardware costs Production Servers Annual hours Cores/server Hardware cost Annual cloud cost 7 8,760 8 $11,250 Staging 5 1,000 8 $4,025 Testing 2 1,000 8 $1,600 Staging (Alt) 7 250 8 $1,406 Testing (Alt) 7 1,000 8 $5,625
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The costs are estimated at approximately 10 cents per CPU per hour, plus a 2.5 centsper-hour fee for a load-balancer. These prices reflect the public prices of Amazon s EC2 service at the time of publication of this book. As you can see, when the hardware is used only 1,000 hours per year, the combined cost of staging and testing is $5,625 per year much less than the hardware costs of both smaller environments. But also consider the alternative deployment layouts represented in the last two columns of table 7.2. In this situation, you re re-creating a full production environment with all seven servers in both environments for not much more. In doing so, you can also use the staging environment less often, because the testing environment is now much larger and can be used for performance testing. Note that to take advantage of these savings you have to be able to quickly deploy and tear down the environments. That s where the investments put in by the operations staff and developers can help out. Often, you can reuse the tools and
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Testing, deployment, and operations in the cloud
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processes used for cloud-based disaster recovery and scalability to save thousands of dollars each year.
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Although the savings in hardware costs are nice, the largest expense for most businesses is usually employee salaries. As such, anything that can make testers more productive is often worth the effort. That s why as agile software methodologies have taken hold over the past decade, a major focus on automated testing has been central to the agile movement. Whether it s for load testing, functional testing, or unit testing, the cloud and various cloud-based tools (commercial and open source) are helping with test automation. Even for manual testing, various cloud-based services are making individual testers more productive. Before we go deeper into how the cloud is speeding up test automation and manual testing, let s take a moment to quickly review the various kinds of testing most QA teams do:
Unit testing Involves using tools such as JUnit or NUnit to build and run automated tests that exercise the internal algorithms of your software. Functional testing End-to-end testing of the entire application, from the end user s perspective. Also known as acceptance testing. Visual testing Verifies the user interface on a variety of different platforms. Between mobile devices, several versions of Windows, and at least five major browsers, this is particularly important for most web applications. Load testing and performance testing Measures the performance of an application from when it s barely being used all the way up to heavy utilization. Also used to determine the failure point of an application. Usability testing Collects subjective feedback on how real users react to the application s interface and functionality. Ad hoc and manual testing A broad bucket of various types of manual testing efforts that can t or shouldn t be automated. Penetration testing Evaluates the security of a computer system or network by simulating an attack from a malicious source.
Each of these types of testing can benefit from the cloud. Some, such as load testing and functional testing, benefit through the use of new testing tools designed for the cloud. Others, such as manual testing, benefit when the application under test (AUT) can be deployed quickly to the cloud. For example, suppose two testers need to have exclusive access to the testing environment at the same time one plans to run a large load test, and the other needs to run the entire suite of automated tests. Without the cloud, one would have to wait for the other to finish. With the cloud, the environment can be cloned, and both testers can get on with their job without interruption. Let s explore ways the cloud allows for tasks to run in parallel, allowing developers and testers to operate more efficiently.
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