Providers must offer cloud performance testing for customer apps

Cloud providers must offer cloud performance testing and cloud load testing for customers’ applications to demonstrate scalability and manage expectations.

As enterprises move more of their infrastructure elements into the cloud, cloud providers will have to offer cloud performance testing and application load testing in their environments. While some cloud providers have been offering elements related to managing and monitoring cloud performance, few have been able to offer cloud performance testing and cloud load testing tailored to a customer's cloud strategy.

With cloud performance testing, cloud providers can assure a customer that its applications will scale as expected.

Many enterprises wrongly assume that the measures they have for application load and performance testing within their own environments will suffice for applications in a cloud environment, said Tom Nolle, president and principal analyst of CIMI Corp.

Customers will find that there are limits even in the cloud, and it's important for cloud providers to understand applications from an end-user performance perspective.

Caleb Billingsley
Area Vice President of Performance Technology, Orasi Software Inc.

"If the cloud value proposition is useful and unique [from the traditional data center], then the cloud is going to have differences in application performance, too," Nolle said.

Powering cloud performance testing

Service provider Orasi Software Inc. has partnered with Skytap Inc., a cloud automation company, to provide load and performance testing for the cloud environment. The platform -- Orasi CloudPerform -- is powered by the Skytap cloud and is combined with HP's LoadRunner-in-the-Cloud software to facilitate cloud performance testing.

The CloudPerform platform will eliminate the need for an enterprise to build its own specialized cloud performance testing environment for their applications, according to Brett Goodwin, vice president of marketing and business development at Skytap. Providers can offer the service to customers in 24-hour licensed increments by way of the on-demand cloud environment, he said.

As enterprises realize that their traditional methods for application load and performance testing don't translate to the cloud, they will expect testing as a standard offering from cloud providers, said Caleb Billingsley, area vice president of performance technology at Orasi.

"While a lot of [cloud providers] do [cloud] performance testing now, the quality and depth varies," Billingsley said. "I think we will definitely start to see more ability to stress-test [a customer's] cloud environment from cloud providers."

The partnership of Orasi, Skytap and HP bring offers a unique approach to cloud performance testing, Nolle said. HP offers load generating capability and is a partner of Orasi.

"HP was the natural choice and had approached us about running their products in the cloud environment and making [their offerings] available to other cloud providers," Billingsley said.

Orasi chose Skytap as the software platform to manage the computing resources, Billingsley said.

"To Orasi, cloud means to have instant-on scalability and reliability," he said. "Skytap gave us ability through an automated interface be able to spin up and spin down on-demand machines, but also manage the different configurations.”

Limits to the cloud: Cloud performance testing required

With cloud performance testing, cloud providers can offer a risk management solution to customers. When a potential customer talks to a cloud provider about cloud performance testing, "many [customers] do not know, for example, how much bandwidth an application uses when hosted in a cloud or how much bandwidth 250 concurrent users on a site will consume," Billingsley said.

Many enterprises believe that the cloud will be infinitely scalable, but cloud capacity does not guarantee an application will perform in the cloud.

"Customers will find that there are limits even in the cloud, and it's important for cloud providers to understand applications from an end-user performance perspective," Billingsley said.

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Cloud performance testing: Can it yield real-world results?

Many customers are still in the early stages of cloud adoption, so cloud providers should take this opportunity to begin offering cloud performance testing in a more structured way, Nolle said.

"The notion that the cloud requires a different application performance management strategy is hard for [customers] to grasp," he said. "If cloud providers don't offer cloud application performance testing, they are at risk of having their customers deploy applications that are going to fail to meet business goals, resulting in project failures."

To help customers avoid project failure, the cloud provider must understand and articulate risk management in terms of what is “acceptable risk” to the company, Billingsley noted.

"Big or small, if a company is experiencing rapid growth or if they expect rapid growth, then application performance testing in the cloud is very important," Billingsley said.

Customers will demand elastic and scalable application performance capabilities in the cloud, Skytap's Goodwin said.

"Customers need to know that their application will be able to perform under a load and will scale," Goodwin said. "If done in the cloud, [customers] can burst up to the level of performance and load testing needed and then bring it back down and only pay as you use, rather than investing capital and time to build a huge infrastructure in the data center. Performance testing offers a use case that's really ideal for the cloud."

Let us know what you think about the story; email: Gina Narcisi, News Writer

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