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Why you need a hybrid cloud for mobile quality testing

Eran Kinsbruner DevOps Chief Evangelist, Perforce

As a developer creating digital experiences via mobile apps, I find that the move to cloud-based testing can make the process seem more difficult than it needs to be.

That's not to say that the benefits aren't clear: 24/7 support, unattended automated testing, and data centers with enterprise-grade security. There's a significant amount of cost savings as well, since buying phones and managing an internal device lab is expensive.

To keep pace with fast release cycles, organizations need to focus on app quality and business outcomes and not worry about managing an in-house lab. Probably most importantly, there's a boost in reliability with cloud-based testing that's key for frequent app updates.

The best environment for app testing is a private, hosted cloud with access to real devices, real user conditions, and guaranteed 99.9 percent uptime.

The case for hybrid

But does this mean that a company should default to a private testing cloud and not search for additional options? Definitely not. For most organizations, it takes a few solutions working together to meet testing requirements.

We see this conundrum most commonly with enterprise developers. The following example illustrates the challenge perfectly: A well-known airline has implemented a private, onboard Wi-Fi network for passengers to watch streaming movies and other web content. Although the airline uses Perfecto's private, hosted cloud for most of its app testing, it also needs to test the app for a specific location (inside the plane).

A private, hosted cloud alone would not be able to run these tests, so the airline also has a local setup that connects a smartphone or tablet to its private cloud via USB (a service we call LocalLink) to test that the app works on the private, onboard Wi-Fi network. The airline's arrangement successfully combines the benefits of cloud-based testing with the ability to test against specific locations.

Situations such as the airline's illustrate the very practical situations that are increasing the demand for the hybrid cloud. "Hybrid cloud" describes the different deployment options of a cloud-based service. This primarily means a mix of a hosted, private cloud; a local, private cloud (on premises); and/or a shared, public cloud, depending on the company's business goals and user requirements.

A hybrid cloud enables teams to add devices provided by the vendor and also add their own for device-in-hand testing of features like scanning a barcode or capturing a check image. For some tasks, it's better to rent. A more cost-effective public cloud can also be used to test on older, lesser-used devices that are still relevant for your user base.

New tech, new testing

New test scenarios and Internet of Things (IoT) devices are the main reasons for the rise of hybrid cloud testing. Applications not only must work within smartphones and tablets themselves, but also must be tested to connect flawlessly with Bluetooth-enabled beacons, car dashboards, refrigerators, and thermostats, to name just a few now-common scenarios that need to be tested locally.

Yet no company should have to buy separate cloud and local services, and vendors that suggest it are showing their inability to adapt to changing requirements. As the scope of app testing and quality expands from strictly a mobile experience to a digital experience rife with smart home appliances, responsive design websites and wearable devices, having the flexibility to test through various customized cloud setups is key.

Whatever shape an organization's hybrid cloud takes, the ultimate goal is to extend coverage for all digital interactions and reduce those dreaded app failures that damage a brand's reputation and bottom line.

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