by May 29, 2012 0 comments



While testing as a practice dates back as far as software development itself, it is only recently that it is being recognized as a distinct expertise and an area which can provide true competitive advantage to a development team and the business as a whole. This change in perception, allied to a growing need for software testing in an increasingly applications-reliant world, has made testing, and the broader process of software quality, a growing concern.

The major driving force in this context however is the ever increasing importance and consumerization of the web which in turn is powering the growth of the businesses. There is a demand for ever more sophisticated, smarter and faster applications from consumers and businesses alike. Every major business process relies on applications you build and manage. So, it is critical that your software performs effectively and fulfills its mission.

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If there is one certainty to be gleaned from current trends in software, it is that testing and other areas of quality assurance will continue to grow in importance for the foreseeable future. As the potential impact of software failure increases, so do the resources available to prevent such problems from occurring. This, in turn, is increasing levels of professionalism within the industry, making testing a more strategically important and lucrative practice. However, to suggest that testing will simply continue its current trajectory without any major changes to the landscape of the market would be foolhardy. The market as it now stands is virtually unrecognizable from that of ten or fifteen years ago, and it is reasonable to assume that the rate of progress over the coming decade will be even more rapid.

Here are what we believe will be five major trends in software testing between now and 2020:

1. Testing’s rightful place in the cloud

Cloud computing will be the single greatest influence on IT practices in the years ahead, and testing will, like every other facet of technology, be affected. In addition to the obvious benefit of flexible pricing, the cloud model has a great deal to offer to the testing industry due to what is likely to be an exponential increase in demand for load testing. Cloud is a compelling option for companies conducting load testing, due to its ability to conduct short bursts of tests without requiring significant outlay on hardware or maintenance.

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In a world where more and more organizations rely on applications (whether web-based or private), businesses require reassurance that these systems are durable enough to handle thousands of individuals using the application simultaneously and from multiple points of access. Companies who can offer the products and services required to do this look well-placed to prosper from the cloud era.

Testing-as-a-service is estimated to grow by over 33% each year between now and 2013, meaning that the market for cloud-based testing tools will reach over $700 million by 2013. This represents a huge opportunity for outsourcers, ISVs and software vendors alike, and shows just why many analysts have described cloud computing as the biggest step change in IT since the adoption of the internet itself.

2. Testing skills shortage a likelihood

A 2010 survey found that almost three quarters of testing professionals in the UK felt that there was a skills shortage within the industry. Gartner Inc. has estimated that, within non-software companies, the highest ratio of testers to developers is around 1:3, meaning that many companies may have a ratio of four or five to one, or even more. When one considers that between a third and a half of the total cost of application development is accounted for by the testing process, this seems ominously low. Such discrepancies between demand and supply show why the testing stage often becomes a bottleneck in the software development process.

While automation tools are capable of reducing much of the tester’s workload, it is clear that software testing, as a growing area of the IT industry, will require more skilled professionals in the years ahead. While the growing status of the industry will no doubt help in attracting new graduates and school leavers into the profession, as with all skills shortages, this will not be solved overnight. Rather, it will require the co-operation of government, business and academia to identify the areas in which shortfalls are the highest and to then tailor curricula to meet these needs. While this




shortfall is being addressed, responsibility for ensuring software quality will fall upon the shoulders of every stakeholder involved in the project, from analysts through to developers.

Nevertheless, working to improve the ratio of testers to developers, and identifying and tackling skills shortages in testing will be deciding factors in whether the sector, on the one hand, flourishes over the coming decade, or on the other, becomes stifled by a lack of available talent and an ongoing reputation as the major bottleneck in the development cycle.

3. An automated and continuous approach to testing

One trend which will undoubtedly shape the testing tools market over the coming years is that of test automation. While test automation tools have been available for a number of years, it is only comparatively recently those businesses have truly begun to appreciate the value which they can add to the development process.

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The increased automation of testing supports a more “continuous” approach to software quality. Previous modes of assuring quality tended to focus on the last mile of the development process, where testing would only commence once development was complete, leading to frequent delays and re-work. By automating testing processes, quality can be emphasized at the start of development and problems can be addressed before they become too difficult or costly to remove.

Automation tools eliminate much of the laborious nature of testing and also remove exposure to human error within the process. This has led some to suggest that increased adoption of such tools could eventually replace the majority of manual tests. This in turn would have a huge effect on the testing services market, much of which relies on an ongoing requirement for labor-intensive, manual tasks. However, in a survey conducted by Micro Focus, manual testing still ranked as a far higher priority among testers than automation, showing that there is still a long way to go before automation becomes the norm.

In reality, there will always be a need for both manual and automated testing, and that will be as true in 2020 as it is today. Agile development practices require higher levels of automation, meaning increased adoption of agile will lead to a growth in demand for automation tools. However, increased demand for testing services as a whole will more than compensate for any reduction in manual testing required as a result of increased adoption of automation techniques.

4. Increased agility

Agile methods are becoming increasingly important in software development. Companies value their flexible and extremely effective procedures, which work even for large projects, enabling products to be completed early and subsequent adaptations to be made as well. Agile testing plays an important part in this: testing at an early stage, and in parallel with software development, ensures that the quality of the software satisfies requirements more closely.

Relevant test procedures can now be carried out earlier in the course of the project, meaning problems can be identified in good time and rectified accordingly. Combining prompt testing with automation will also lead to greater efficiency: the inaccuracies of manual processes can be eliminated and tests can be repeated. The ability to test earlier in the development process also means that more testing can now be ‘requirements driven’. Aligning the testing and requirements processes more closely is yet another way of ensuring that software quality is built into the development process from the start, rather than being undertaken only once an application nears completion. As agile continues to grow as a practice, the ability to test throughout the development process becomes ever more essential, and testing tools will need to change in order to meet this demand.

5. Applications economy

While it is by no means a new trend, one process which will continue rapidly over the coming decade is the growing importance of applications to the businesses they serve. Even more so than today, applications, be they web-based widgets or back office batch processing systems, will be the lifeblood of the business. As Internet adoption becomes more prevalent throughout the developing world, greater strain will be placed on online applications, and with this increased demand will come greater business value and risk of failure. Further, as applications become more complex they consume more resources and can lead to increased loads. They also become more difficult to test due to the complexity of simulating interactions like those via Web 2.0 applications.

The financial and reputational cost of application failures will continue to skyrocket. The need to stay available and functional will drive a greater understanding of peak demand times and software quality processes, meaning that website outages or system failures, while not altogether becoming a thing of the past, should not occur as frequently as today. Organizations simply must test to ensure that applications perform, even under massive peak loads.

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