Welcome!

Java IoT Authors: Zakia Bouachraoui, Yeshim Deniz, Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Jeremy Geelan

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Java IoT, Cloud Security

@CloudExpo: Blog Post

Moving Test Environments to the Cloud By @EFeatherston | @CloudExpo #Cloud

Is that a good first step?

How often do you get questions like ‘Have you gone to the cloud yet?', or ‘Why aren't we in the cloud?', or a myriad of others along those same lines. People still talk like the cloud is a destination. I discussed this tendency last year in a blog, "The Cloud - Is It Your Actual Destination?" For all the hype surrounding cloud, the benefits are real. IDC forecasts global public IT Cloud services spending to reach nearly $108B by 2017. Gartner expects that by 2016 the bulk of IT spend will be for the cloud. Those are pretty impressive numbers. The challenge is to remember, cloud is technology, it's a vehicle, a conduit to help you provide value to the business.

The real challenge is determining what should move to the cloud. Do I go to public cloud or build a private cloud? Is hybrid the right choice? What benefits provide the best value to the business? Do I move everything? These are just some of the questions that you should be asking yourself. There is no simple one-size fits all answer. No technology, including cloud, negates the need for good design and planning. How does one make sense of this? You need to put a process in place to that identifies, weighs and balances the business needs with the technical challenges. One potential area to look at as a first step is your test environments. I can already see some of your eyes rolling, but let's take a look at some of the potential benefits of doing that.

The challenge of QA and performance test environments
In house QA and performance test environments have always presented challenges, and many times been the forgotten step child in the development process. Every group wants:

  • Their own isolated, dedicated test environments
  • To run on independent build/test/deploy schedules
  • To be able to quickly configure/deploy/test changes both on cycle and for hot fixes
  • To performance test for scale, load, and capacity so they can understand breakpoints before going live

In the ideal world, with unlimited resources and money, this would be easy. Unfortunately, in the real world, setting up that kind of dedicated testing environments tends to be cost, space, and resource constrained. Hardware/space/resources need to be shared, scheduled, and may run into conflicts. The end result is shared resources, scaled down in size, which may or may not be a good representation of the production environment. Keeping large amounts of hardware around that is not utilized all the time becomes a hard sell, and not one that is usually won. Sharing these resources helps, but inevitably there are schedule conflicts, one project impacting another during the testing cycles. Striking a balance is a pain point many of us are all too familiar with.

Stand up, deploy, test, breakdown, repeat
Public cloud providers can be a viable option to help address the challenges discussed. Instead of the classic purchase, configure, and support your own hardware environments, you go to the cloud provider. The public cloud providers have three key benefits to address the testing challenges

  • You can obtain your own dedicated testing environment resources when you need them
  • You only pay for what you use
  • You can configure for dynamic resource usage, allowing for true performance testing for application scaling and identifying breakpoints

On demand testing resources when you need them. Stand up a test environment, deploy your app, test it, and break it back down when you are done. Dynamic scaling for performance. Sounds wonderful, what's the catch? No technology negates the need for good planning and design. The cloud is no exception. To take advantage of the benefits the cloud can provide your testing needs there are some items to consider and plan for in order to succeed.

  • Develop a set of setup configuration and deployment scripts for your cloud environment. All public cloud vendors provide a scripting mechanism for setup, deploy, and breakdown of environments. The added benefit of doing this is you have a standard, repeatable mechanism for standing up a consistent testing environment. Make sure to place these scripts under source control.
  • Develop a test data management strategy. If you have one already, revisit to determine if there is any impact caused by moving into the public cloud space. (See my recent blog on test data management in the cloud). As with the environment setup, develop and maintain scripts so that you have a repeatable process for standing up both the environment and data.
  • Dynamic scaling is only helpful if your application is designed for horizontal scalability. Again, plan and design are key to be able to leverage the benefit.

Does it make sense for your organization and needs
Using public cloud infrastructure as a service offerings for test environments can definitely have benefits. It can also be an attractive first step and toe in the water for your organizations foray into the world of cloud. Is it for everyone? Not necessarily. You need to evaluate your readiness and ability to leverage the benefits that can be found. If you are facing the testing challenges discussed, this step could be for you. Success is not automatic. If you don't already have a well-disciplined DevOps process, this could be a good step in developing one. As discussed, standardizing, scripts, source control, process, are all critical to leveraging the cloud for your test environments. Cloud technology will not make the magic and success happen. It does provide the opportunity and capability. With proper planning and design, using test environments as your first step, it very well could be the right choice for your organization to start its successful leveraging of cloud technologies.

This post is brought to you by Cloud for Tomorrow.

More Stories By Ed Featherston

Ed Featherston is VP, Principal Architect at Cloud Technology Partners. He brings 35 years of technology experience in designing, building, and implementing large complex solutions. He has significant expertise in systems integration, Internet/intranet, and cloud technologies. He has delivered projects in various industries, including financial services, pharmacy, government and retail.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


IoT & Smart Cities Stories
The Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) is a non-profit organization that provides business support services to companies expanding to Japan. With the support of JETRO's dedicated staff, clients can incorporate their business; receive visa, immigration, and HR support; find dedicated office space; identify local government subsidies; get tailored market studies; and more.
As you know, enterprise IT conversation over the past year have often centered upon the open-source Kubernetes container orchestration system. In fact, Kubernetes has emerged as the key technology -- and even primary platform -- of cloud migrations for a wide variety of organizations. Kubernetes is critical to forward-looking enterprises that continue to push their IT infrastructures toward maximum functionality, scalability, and flexibility. As they do so, IT professionals are also embr...
At CloudEXPO Silicon Valley, June 24-26, 2019, Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with expanded DevOpsSUMMIT and FinTechEXPO programs within the DXWorldEXPO agenda. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive over the long term. A total of 88% of Fortune 500 companies from a generation ago are now out of business. Only 12% still survive. Similar percentages are found throug...
At CloudEXPO Silicon Valley, June 24-26, 2019, Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with expanded DevOpsSUMMIT and FinTechEXPO programs within the DXWorldEXPO agenda. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive over the long term. A total of 88% of Fortune 500 companies from a generation ago are now out of business. Only 12% still survive. Similar percentages are found throug...
Atmosera delivers modern cloud services that maximize the advantages of cloud-based infrastructures. Offering private, hybrid, and public cloud solutions, Atmosera works closely with customers to engineer, deploy, and operate cloud architectures with advanced services that deliver strategic business outcomes. Atmosera's expertise simplifies the process of cloud transformation and our 20+ years of experience managing complex IT environments provides our customers with the confidence and trust tha...
AI and machine learning disruption for Enterprises started happening in the areas such as IT operations management (ITOPs) and Cloud management and SaaS apps. In 2019 CIOs will see disruptive solutions for Cloud & Devops, AI/ML driven IT Ops and Cloud Ops. Customers want AI-driven multi-cloud operations for monitoring, detection, prevention of disruptions. Disruptions cause revenue loss, unhappy users, impacts brand reputation etc.
As you know, enterprise IT conversation over the past year have often centered upon the open-source Kubernetes container orchestration system. In fact, Kubernetes has emerged as the key technology -- and even primary platform -- of cloud migrations for a wide variety of organizations. Kubernetes is critical to forward-looking enterprises that continue to push their IT infrastructures toward maximum functionality, scalability, and flexibility.
Today's workforce is trading their cubicles and corporate desktops in favor of an any-location, any-device work style. And as digital natives make up more and more of the modern workforce, the appetite for user-friendly, cloud-based services grows. The center of work is shifting to the user and to the cloud. But managing a proliferation of SaaS, web, and mobile apps running on any number of clouds and devices is unwieldy and increases security risks. Steve Wilson, Citrix Vice President of Cloud,...
When Enterprises started adopting Hadoop-based Big Data environments over the last ten years, they were mainly on-premise deployments. Organizations would spin up and manage large Hadoop clusters, where they would funnel exabytes or petabytes of unstructured data.However, over the last few years the economics of maintaining this enormous infrastructure compared with the elastic scalability of viable cloud options has changed this equation. The growth of cloud storage, cloud-managed big data e...
Artificial intelligence, machine learning, neural networks. We're in the midst of a wave of excitement around AI such as hasn't been seen for a few decades. But those previous periods of inflated expectations led to troughs of disappointment. This time is (mostly) different. Applications of AI such as predictive analytics are already decreasing costs and improving reliability of industrial machinery. Pattern recognition can equal or exceed the ability of human experts in some domains. It's devel...