What is meant by "cloud testing" and why does it matter?

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The cloud is seemingly everywhere these days, seeping into just about all facets of life. It's no surprise then that quality assurance specialists and software testers are finding ways to leverage this technology in their own field. Despite the ubiquity of the cloud, there still remains some confusion as to its use in QA processes and what it means for those on the ground floor of the industry. In fact, it can be difficult to even land on a specific definition of the technology in regard to software testing. So, what exactly do we mean when we talk about "cloud testing" and what does it entail? Furthermore, why should QA teams care?

Defining cloud testing
To get at the heart of the matter, we first need to form some understanding as to what the term cloud testing actually means. An easy mistake is to assume that it pertains to testing cloud-based software. Sometimes, as in the case with a Software Testing Help article by Sneha Nadig, this is precisely what cloud testing refers to. To be sure, there are many unique considerations to make when attempting to analyze a cloud environment and determine its level of quality. However, for many QA specialists, cloud testing will mean something else altogether.

In most instances, cloud testing is not about evaluating the cloud itself, but running test processes in a hosted environment. TechTarget's Moriah Sargent explained that there are numerous benefits to taking such an approach, including the ability to virtually create a testing environment that replicates real-world circumstances.

"Cloud infrastructure enables easier testing and monitoring of the production environment," Sargent wrote. "Applications can be tested for the exact number of actual users. Extra testing for global applications is also possible. Internationalization and localization methods allow companies to detect where users are when they interact with an application and tailor the user experience accordingly."

Cloud testing enhances QA processes
In essence, cloud testing allows QA teams to more accurately determine how an application will perform after it has been released well before it ever hits the market. Cloud software testing environments can be scaled up to match expected user levels. This approach to test management can help organizations avoid costly scenarios wherein seemingly high-functioning apps crash and burn once they have been released to the public. In particular, testers can ascertain whether in-develop software has the ability to shoulder user workloads without affecting its performance. This would greatly enhance defect management efforts.