View webinar recording to learn about moving your Dev/Test to the Cloud!
Not long ago the folks over at DotNetRocks aired a podcast
testing in the Cloud. In this podcast, they talked about the benefits of
testing your code in the Cloud across a range of applications including web,
mobile, and client/server.
While the podcast covered a spattering of topics related to
testing applications in the Cloud versus using on premise infrastructure, it did
not really address the reasons why you might choose the cloud. What I want to
know is, what drives developers and product teams to move their development and
testing to the cloud? Sure there are the obvious Cloud benefits: reduce some
infrastructure costs, scale easier, and work across the globe. But I’m more
interested in what the implications are for the application lifecycle and ultimately
Defining Development & Testing in the Cloud
As with all things novel and technological, it’s easy to get
confused just by terminology so let’s define a few things. First, “The Cloud”:
I’m referring to public Cloud service providers. I don’t mean your internal Cloud,
and I definitely do not mean the hypervisor on your local machine. So next, what
do I mean by “Development & Testing”?
There is just Development, and there is just Testing. But “Development
& Testing” is the process of taking what has been coded, and making sure it
works across commonly used workloads. Some call this Application
Lifecycle Management (ALM) minus the release process. It’s important to
note that I’m not referring to application testing. Application testing is
taking new versions or completely new line-of-business application, playing around
with their features, or making sure adding an update does not break things. On
the other hand, Development & Testing relates to the application you are
building for an internal or public audience.
When I talk about Development & Testing in the Cloud, I’m
referring to moving the bulk of the infrastructure used for Development & Testing
to the public Cloud. IaaS and sometimes PaaS would definitely fall into this
category. All applications -- even mobile applications -- have a server
somewhere they are referencing, and this server is likely crucial to the
application. Some applications also use Cloud services for worker threads or like
databases. These may or may not be included in Development & Test as many
of these services once set do not need to be touched, and can be consumed both
by Development and Production.
The 5 types of activities that happen during Development and
- Automated Testing
- Manual Testing
5+N are the staging to deployment and release portions of
the development processes, and they live in the land of Production. At this
point you are asking yourself, is there a difference between Production Infrastructure,
and Testing Infrastructure? YES!!
The Difference Between Production Infrastructure & Testing Infrastructure
Production infrastructure is similar to the difference
between having an agile Ferrari, or a ¾ ton truck with snorkel and smoke
stacks. Both are going to get your buddies to think you are really cool. But
each are cool for different reasons. The Ferrari is cool because it can weave
in and out of traffic, and move really fast. The truck is cool because it’s
like a rock, stable and reliable. You take the Ferrari out to see what it can
do, but you put the truck to work.
The same is true in the Cloud. Your Development & Test Cloud has to be flexible, and orchestrate
quickly. Your Production Cloud, however, is something that you set up one time
and use on a daily basis You don’t need to change the configuration at all; you
just use it.
In technical terms, this means for a Dev/Test Cloud you need
to be able to:
- Snapshot robust environments
environments on demand
- Collaborate and
configurations without manual effort
with development tools
Whereas in a Production Cloud you need:
- The best machine-level
SLA you can find
- Lots of
There are public Cloud providers that are tailored for one
of these scenarios over the other. For example CloudShare is tailored for Development
& Testing, whereas Azure and AWS are built for Production. In CloudShare
you can snapshot multi-machine environments and maintain network and memory
state where you last left it, whereas in Azure
and AWS you can snapshot the disk of individual machines, but you will have to
manually reconfigure your environments if you ever revert.
It’s these efforts in the Development and Testing cycle that
will kill you.
Back to the development activities list.
Faster Dev/Test Cycles Depend on Faster Access to Infrastructure
Most developers are not going to allow their IDE to leave their local
machine. To take it one step further, most developers have their tricked
out Wall-E themed -- if they even allow you to see it, and its intense power to
produce amazing code -- control-laden custom Visual Studio.
Unless you are trying a new control from your favorite
component vendor, you probably won’t use Visual Studio in a VM in the Cloud.
Once a developer produces that amazing code, they have to
build it. If you are an on-premer, you are pushing your code to that virtual
machine your nice IT guy provided for you. Problem is, the chances of the IT
guy getting the configuration correct are low. Let’s hope it’s not a
multi-tier application because this is going to be way too complex. The
chances of the IT guy even getting you that VM in less than one hour, or even
in a timely fashion, is also very low. This means you and your team are twiddling
your thumbs in frustration waiting to test your new build.
Once you build your code on some infrastructure somewhere,
you are ready to do some automated or manual testing. This is where the
on-premer’s start sweating the number of tests and configurations they have to run.
Because, again they have to go to their IT guy and ask for the infrastructure
to run the tests. Usually what happens is that they end up limiting their
tests to only the essential ones because of time, or limitations in the number
of variations and size of infrastructure they can test on.
If all goes well, and you have a satisfactory build you will
move it to staging, then to Production. This process should be fairly
established and unchanging.
So you might have noticed a trend that, if you’re a
developer, you might not be terribly aware of because it’s so common to you.
The infrastructure used for Development and Testing is highly volatile.
Meaning it goes, up, down, left, right very quickly. When you try to fit this
into an on-prem lifecycle, you are immediately limiting yourself.
And this is just for workloads that you MUST run. What
about those workloads that would be NICE to run? All the things you dream
about doing, but you can’t because it’s too prohibitive, and risky. The
opportunity cost of running on-prem is huge. It limits the Development and QA team’s
ability to run tests, or even experiment.
The reason modern applications are moving so quickly, and
evolving to satisfy users’ needs more rapidly is because the modern development
They get to test new things, fail fast, learn, and move on. All without a
meeting, purchase order, another meeting, slap on the wrist, another meeting,
and finally a rejection.
You can’t grow your application’s capabilities if you are
not innovating and testing new things. This might be new configurations that
make the application run three times faster. Or it might be brand spanking new
APIs that, if successful, will be that one killer feature that will make you competitive,
or make your users swoon for your application.
If you use the Cloud for testing, you can do anything.
Because in a Cloud built specifically for Development and Testing, when you
break something, you giggle a little, revert from a snapshot, and test again.
No IT, no hiding from your boss, no forehead slaps (well unless you did
something really silly).
Why You Should Move Your Development & Testing to the Cloud
So what are the real business drivers for moving your Development
and Testing to the Cloud?
- IT and Development
teams become friends
- You can test more
scenarios without additional effort
- The success of
your application increases exponentially
In most organizations, even ISVs in Silicon Valley, IT and
Development are not the best of friends. While to most outsiders they are one
in the same, or very closely tied. When you are part of these teams you know
that developers get mad at IT for being slow and not caring enough about what
they need. And IT gets mad at developers for taking up Production resources,
asking for weird things like specific ports being open and bizarre
configurations, and finally distracting them from their day job. Because the
Dev user is not the typical user, every interaction between the two is unique
and usually frustrating.
By moving Development and Testing to the Cloud, this
frustration goes away. Developers get off IT’s back, and what used to be “encounters”
in the break room, are now much more friendly conversations about the latest
When you move your testing
to the Cloud you can do very cool things like make small variations in
tests, or double the amount of tests you run without additional effort. You
can expand your tests to all run on their own isolated infrastructure to make a
true test without managing as many strange variables as possible. We all know
that machine-level configurations are the most adversarial application issues
that can arise. But in the Cloud, you can run separate tests on configuration
identical environments without any effort. Not to mention, you can do
bursting, and load testing that you never thought possible with your on-prem
And finally, here is the kicker. On-prem will limit you,
and your application, from becoming the modern cutting edge bundle of code you imagined
it to be. If you want your application to be modern, even if it is a legacy
database application aspiring to have a mobile and web interface, you have no
choice but to move to the Cloud. Because, that cool server under your desk is
neat, but it’s holding you back. Turn it into a gaming server, and move your
day job to the Cloud.
If you are an on-premer, stop it. You love your
application, and you want it to be successful and modern like all the other
cool kids. So move your Development and Testing to the Cloud now! If you are
already in love with the Cloud, and moving your Development and Testing there.
Remember that not all Clouds are created equal, and what you are looking for is
that special functionality that allows you to share, snapshot, revert whole
multi-machine environments in their exact state on the fly.
My name is Chris Riley, and I too used to be a server
hugger. If I can do it, then you can too