Is Your Cloud App Ready For 100,000 Users? - InformationWeek
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7/21/2009
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John Foley
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Is Your Cloud App Ready For 100,000 Users?

Ninety percent of companies don't put their Web applications or sites through performance tests, according to Tom Lounibos, CEO of cloud testing specialist Soasta. Which companies have taken that extra step? Soasta is introducing a certification program to sort out the testers from the non-testers.

Ninety percent of companies don't put their Web applications or sites through performance tests, according to Tom Lounibos, CEO of cloud testing specialist Soasta. Which companies have taken that extra step? Soasta is introducing a certification program to sort out the testers from the non-testers.I recently referred to software testing as cloud computing's next big thing. Soasta provides a cloud-based testing service, called CloudTest, for Web sites and Web apps, including, but not limited to, those that are hosted in cloud services from Amazon, GoGrid, and other providers.

The concept of running Web apps through load and performance tests isn't new. According to Lounibos, however, it's not widely practiced, because building test labs is cost prohibitive. And when companies do test Web apps, they tend to do so as a fraction of peak loads, so they're never really sure how things will hold up during traffic spikes. Companies that don't test, or don't test at peak loads, are essentially treating their users as "digital crash test dummies," he says.

Soasta's new performance certification program is intended to encourage companies to not only test their Web apps, but to certify them as working under the strain of peak loads. Soasta will certify apps at levels ranging from 1,000 to 100,000 users, over the course of an hour or longer, and stamp them as having met sub-second response times. Soasta's OLAP capabilities help customers pinpoint what's causing an app to bog down, then fix it. Vendors participating in the program include 3Tera, Appistry, Chegg.com, Enomaly, GoGrid, Hexaware Technologies, Intuit, JackBe, PowerTest, Rackspace, Rightscale, rPath, and Zephyr.

An internal test center can cost $1 million and up when you take into account servers, software, and other components. By comparison, Soasta starts at about $1,000 an hour to test an app simulating 1,000 users. Soasta rents on-demand servers from Amazon, Rackspace, and other cloud service providers to run its tests. For example, Soasta used 2,500 servers over eight hours to test Intuit's TurboTax.com prior to the April tax filing deadline. (Lounibos says Soasta is one of Amazon Web Services' biggest users, having already rented over 50,000 servers on Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud.)

Cloud computing has made it easier for companies to build and deploy a new generation of Web-based applications and Web 2.0 sites. In lockstep with that trend, cloud-based testing services are making it easier and cheaper for developers and IT departments to test what they've created. There are fewer excuses, and growing consequences, for not testing.

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