Quality Moves to the Cloud

Should you host your QA software in the cloud or on premises?

When you think of the cloud, you probably automatically associate it with Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, or one of the many other cloud providers out there. You probably also think in terms of the whole catalogue of services such providers offer. In addition to allowing you to spin up virtual machines, for example, when you’re in the cloud you have access to VPNs, elastic load balancers and other networking devices that you might use in an enterprise setup.

And while making the move to the cloud — whether for your own internal software, for any software products that you sell, or for any third-party tools that you use — may seem like an obvious choice, it’s not always an easy decision. There are a lot of factors to consider, particularly if your company is risk-averse and tends to be cautious about adopting new technologies.

But the reality is that going to the cloud often makes a lot of sense. In fact, as we’ll see, there’s a raft of benefits that companies can derive from doing so. That’s true in general, and specifically when it comes to quality assurance.

In fact, quality assurance can be the perfect interim step for risk-averse organizations interested in transitioning to the cloud. As Vijayanathan Naganathan noted in a recent TechTarget article, the risks associated with migrating live applications into the cloud is prohibitive for many organizations. If a failure occurs, it would have a direct and immediate impact on the business of the organization, Naganathan writes. However, cloud adoption with QA environments would be far more appropriate for organizations as the business risk associated with such an adoption was found to be comparatively lower when compared with other cloud use cases.

In this article, we’ll compare the benefits of hosting your software with a cloud computing service provider versus maintaining it on premises. We’ll also explain why in the vast majority of cases, going to the cloud is the right choice.

The Pros and Cons of Cloud vs. On Premises

When choosing whether to host your applications either on premises or in the cloud, you have to understand the benefits of each option. Hosting on premises has one big advantage: Since you’re able to physically see your hardware, you have total control of your machines. That means that you can upgrade whatever you want whenever you want, and that you’re not at the mercy of anyone else if, say, their service temporarily goes down. Plus, since some costs don’t renew when you’re on premises, there are scenarios where it can be the less expensive option.

If you’ve never had a problem with your on premises data center, or are skeptical about making the move to the cloud, staying put may seem like the best option. But consider this: When your applications are in the cloud, they’re less expensive to manage and easier to maintain. That’s because you don’t have physical hardware to manage and there aren’t the big upfront costs associated with things like buying racks and servers that you’d otherwise incur. Plus, you only pay for what you use and, depending on which cloud service provider you choose, maintenance may be done for you.

Not only that, the cloud also gives you greater flexibility, with tasks like adding more RAM and spinning up more machines a whole lot easier. When you’re in the cloud, you benefit from offsite disaster recovery, too. And, you don’t eat up precious office floor space with big physical machinery housed in fire-proof rooms. Nor do you have to pay the electricity bills to run all of your equipment.

The reality is that given the many benefits of hosting in the cloud, it’s the better option in the vast majority of cases. Having said that, there are exceptions, so it’s important to select a platform that’s flexible and that can change with you, when you’re ready.

Quality Assurance in the Cloud

When you use third-party tools like GitHub, Jira, or even QA Symphony, being in the cloud can be a real advantage. That’s because you always have access to the latest and greatest version of whatever tools you’re using, without having to wait for someone to manually upgrade it for you.

And while there are scenarios where on premises makes more sense, such as if you have security concerns and don’t want anyone else to have access to your data, when it comes to quality assurance software that’s a moot point. That’s because you’re using test data that isn’t private. And even if you are dealing with sensitive data, you can have faith in cloud-based vendors provided that you have adequately vetted them.

How to Evaluate Quality Assurance Cloud Vendors

Whenever you’re considering using a cloud vendor, it’s a good idea to audit that vendor prior to signing up and then annually after that. As part of your audits, think about the nature of the data that you’ll be giving the vendor access to and develop a standard checklist to help guide your way through the process. Make sure to conduct an onsite visit to see their development, backup and training processes. You’ll also want to verify that they have a quality management system (QMS) in place.

It’s also important to note that when you’re cloud based and trying to keep up with a lot of different technologies, you’re probably setting up your network infrastructure and machines on the fly. This kind of infrastructure as code needs to be tested separately. Being in the cloud means that you can do more things more quickly thanks to the range of services you have access to. At the same time, however, it also means more things need to be tested.

Head in the Clouds, Feet Firmly on the Ground

Don’t be slow to adopt the cloud. Going cloud-based makes sense for the vast majority of companies from both a financial and ease-of-use perspective. And, provided that you’re evaluating your cloud vendors carefully — by looking at their practices and considering the nature of the data you’re entrusting them with — you can have full confidence in their security, while also benefiting from the many advantages they offer.

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