vrijdag 8 januari 2010

Testing the Cloud, a thought on the fogginess.

***Column 'Capping IT Off', January 2010***

According to a large number of articles in different specialist journals ‘The Cloud’ will be (or already is) the next big thing in IT-land, so I guess it will be important in testing too. Most articles are very positive on the possibilities of this concept, but as is testers own, I get a little skeptic and weary.

Since the first publications on the subject a group of testers in Capgemini’s Community of Practice Testing started following the news. As I said; MOST articles are positive, but lately some doubts have risen. Companies seem to see the possibilities, but also have questions on subjects like ‘security’, ‘performance’ and ‘traceability’. These latter three are quality attributes typically covered by testing.

So will testing the cloud specifically for ones organization take away these doubts? Testing is all about giving the stakeholders insight in the degree of quality of their systems- and processes (and I mean this in ‘fit for purpose’-way, because there are a lot of definitions on quality). As a tester myself I find the name of this concept appropriate. One of the ‘–noun’ definitions in the dictionary states: “a dim or obscure area in something otherwise clear or transparent”. Things like system management that is normally in-house and controllable is now in some vague area out of sight of the organization itself.
Another one states: “a great number of insects, birds, etc., flying together: a cloud of locusts obscuring the sun.”, and I can’t help myself by thinking: THAT many bugs together? – that can’t be a good sign.

So does this cloud also has a silver lining? The process of testing itself will not be different, but the way testing is managed all the more, as are the emphasis on certain quality attributes. Is testing a regular complex system normally a challenge, testing a cloud related system will be more so, but certainly not impossible.

So yes, from a testers point of view, this cloud certainly has a silver lining, but it will take an experienced tester to make it so, else it will stay just as the dictionary also states: “anything that obscures or darkens something, or causes gloom, trouble, suspicion, disgrace, etc.” instead of being (-idioms definition): “on a cloud, Informal. exceedingly happy; in high spirits”