Earlier this week, Sauce Labs announced the addition of real devices to its cloud-based web and mobile application testing platform. The addition of real devices to the Sauce Labs cloud platform allows for the testing of mobile apps on real devices in conjunction with simulators and emulators of devices using the Sauce Labs cloud. As such, developers and enterprises seeking to test the efficacy of mobile apps on select devices can understand the performance of the application on a real device and correspondingly obtain more accurate data regarding the application’s compatibility with the device in question. The addition of real devices to the Sauce Labs mobile testing platform illustrates the urgency in the industry around testing of mobile apps and the concomitant need for platforms that deliver a controlled framework for testing mobile applications across a variety of infrastructures. Meanwhile, Sauce Labs also announced support for Microsoft Edge and OS X El Capitan browsers and thereby delivered yet another emphatic affirmation of its ability to support the most cutting edge mobile technologies as evinced by Microsoft Edge, Microsoft’s browser for Windows 10. Pricing for Sauce Labs testing apps on real devices exceeds pricing for simulators and emulators, consistent with the rest of the industry, but conversely underscores the value enabled by the opportunity to test mobile apps on actual devices. Expect Sauce Labs to continue expanding the depth of its cloud-based mobile testing functionality as it responds to the skyrocketing proliferation of mobile apps and the associated need within the industry to test apps rapidly and accurately across a variety of devices and browsers.
On June 11, Sauce Labs announced a significant update to its cloud-based platform for testing web and mobile applications in the form of an enhanced user interface and single sign-on functionality. The updated Sauce Labs user interface allows customers to understand the status of the build of an application and the associated multitude of constituent tests instead of tracking the progress of individual tests. Sauce Labs also features a range of enterprise-grade features such as the ability to more effectively manage groups of users and run analytics on usage patterns for individuals, roles and teams. The platform’s single sign-on functionality allows enterprises to more easily promote usage of the Sauce Labs cloud testing platform within their existing portfolio of applications in addition to simplifying the provisioning of new accounts. Importantly, Sauce Labs continues to refine and improve its integration with continuous integration platforms such as Jenkins, Bamboo and Team City to help streamline the incorporation of test results into subsequent builds and application refinements. The update to the Sauce Labs dashboard builds on the company’s finalization of $15M in Series D funding in February 2015. To date, over 250 million tests have been performed on the Sauce Labs platform in a clear sign that the Sauce Labs cloud-based testing platform continues to stake out a leadership position in the landscape of cloud-based web and mobile testing platforms. Meanwhile, Google recently provided further validation of the importance of cloud-based, parallel multivariate application testing as evinced by its announcement of the Google Cloud Testing Lab for Android applications.
At its annual I/O developer conference in San Francisco, Google announced the “Cloud Test Lab,” a platform for testing mobile apps that enables developers to automate the testing of applications on a multitude of Android devices. The Cloud Test Lab provides free automated testing on a tier of “top 20” Android devices and plans to expand the number of devices supported to more than 20 devices. Google’s Cloud Test Lab allows users to examine the compatibility of their applications on different devices by obtaining “crash reports” featuring video snapshots illustrating instances where the application crashed. To use the Google Cloud Test Lab, developers upload their application and run tests on multiple devices in parallel. At the end of testing, customers obtain a report summarizing the progress of testing across all relevant devices with testing results and log files. Based on technology from its acquisition of Appurify, the Cloud Test Lab attempts to both improve the performance of Android-based applications and respond to fragmentation within the Android community by giving developers a unified platform for testing. That said, Google will need to compete with more mature testing platforms such as Sauce Labs and Xamarin in addition to ever increasing fragmentation within the Android community. Google’s Cloud Test Lab for mobile applications is expected to be available later this year.
Ravello Systems today announced the general availability of its cloud hypervisor platform for Google Compute Engine. As a result of the announcement, Ravello customers can use its SaaS nested virtualization technology to migrate workloads to the Google Compute Engine (GCE) public cloud with a few clicks of the mouse and thereby take advantage of the agility of public cloud environments to accelerate their development and testing efforts. Ravello’s process for the migration of workloads to public cloud environments simplifies migrations by preserving network topologies as well as storage and computing configurations. Customers use Ravello’s user interface to upload their virtual machines into Ravello’s private library, drag and drop them onto an “application canvas,” specify the requisite network configuration, publish the configuration of VMs to the cloud and then create an “application blueprint” that serves as a snapshot of the application at the time of upload. Developers can use the blueprint to spin up the application for parallel testing and QA purposes or connect Ravello to a continuous integration server that synchronizes the blueprint with changes to the on-premise version of the application to ensure that development and testing efforts are performed on the latest version of the application.
Today’s announcement means that Ravello now supports four public clouds in the form of Amazon Web Services, HP Cloud, Rackspace and Google Compute Engine. Integration with Microsoft Azure remains on the product roadmap as told to Cloud Computing Today in a phone interview with Shruti Bhat, Ravello’s Director of Product Marketing. The general availability of Ravello’s nested virtualization technology on GCE represents a particularly special moment for Ravello insofar as its leadership team built the KVM hypervisor that constitutes the basis of virtualization within the Google Compute Engine platform. Ravello’s partnership with Google affirms the threat Google Compute Engine poses to the IaaS market supremacy enjoyed by Amazon Web Services and additionally promises to provide data about cloud deployments within the public clouds it supports by means of the Ravello Cloud Dashboard, which features data about VM provisioning time and VM provisioning-related error rates per cloud provider. From an industry perspective, Ravello’s integration with GCE continues to underscore the importance of public cloud environments for accelerating development and testing. Other use cases for the platform include disaster recovery, backup and replication, but the core use case will revolve around an embellishment of the platform’s capabilities for dev and test in ways that leverage the flexibility of the public cloud to disrupt contemporary protocols for software testing in favor of the massive, algorithmic parallel testing enabled by Ravello’s “blueprint” concept and cloud-based, nested virtualization platform.
On Wednesday, Ravello Systems announced the general availability of its application hypervisor technology that allows organizations to seamlessly replicate application infrastructures within public clouds to augment their development and testing capabilities. Ravello’s application hypervisor platform gives enterprises a new use case for the public cloud by providing a platform that not only migrates application infrastructures to public cloud environments, but additionally enables developers to manage testing as well. Once an application has been imported to a public cloud using Ravello, customers manage the public cloud-residing infrastructure through Ravello’s platform and user interface in order to create application blueprints, tweak application settings for the purpose of A/B and multivariate testing, and monitor the results of subsequent development testing and QA.
Key features of Ravello’s software platform include the following:
•The platform’s claim to fame involves the simplicity of its user interface for importing an application environment into a public cloud infrastructure. Whereas migrations to public clouds can often be complicated, costly and inaccurate, Ravello presents customers with a schematic user interface that allows customers to specify the parameters and configuration of their application as illustrated below:
•Since its Beta launch in February 2013, Ravello’s application hypervisor platform has been used by 2,000 enterprise users for a total of 30,000 applications. Application sizes range from just a few virtual machines to over 100 virtual machines.
•The GA version features enhancements to scalability, networking and storage in the form of “the ability to deal with hundreds of VMs per application, complex enterprise grade networking including VLANs/trunking, L2 appliances, and clustering/storage related features.”
•Ravello currently supports application migration to Amazon Web Services, Rackspace and HP Public Cloud, although it has plans to support Windows Azure according to CEO Rami Tamir, in an interview with Cloud Computing Today.
•Ravello’s user base has not favored any one of its default public clouds (Amazon Web Services, Rackspace or HP) over the others, thus far, according to Tamir. In other words, a disproportionate number of its customers are not leveraging Amazon Web Services, for example, as the favored platform for public cloud deployment.
•Ravello’s pricing is based on application size, complexity and optimization criteria (cost or performance) and includes the cost of the public cloud.
Based on the usage of its platform, Ravello has analyzed data regarding the comparative efficacy of public clouds within a cloud dashboard that compares metrics such as the average time to provision a virtual machine across select regions per cloud provider and the error rate of provisioning a virtual machine. The data is compiled and abstracted from Ravello’s user base featuring thousands of deployments of virtual machines across multiple public cloud systems.
Overall, Ravello’s GA announcement marks the release of an exciting, enterprise grade product to the rapidly growing cloud-based testing and development space. More importantly, however, the product illustrates yet another use case for the public cloud as enabled by technology whose user friendly interface simplifies the replication of application environments within public cloud settings for development and testing in addition to other potential use cases as well.
Sauce Labs recently announced the expansion of its cloud-based testing solutions for mobile and web applications to include Android in addition to iOS. The Sauce Labs web-based testing application allows customers to leverage a laboratory of virtual machines that empower customers to run parallel tests on multiple browser and OS combinations. By extending the capabilities of its testing environment to Android mobile apps in addition to iOS, Sauce Labs consolidates its position as one of the key players in the mobile testing space as enterprises increasingly turn to mobile apps to drive customer retention and to facilitate operational management of employees. Adam Christian, Vice President of Development at Sauce Labs, remarked on the positioning of Sauce Labs in the context of the larger market for mobile app testing as follows:
Appium on Sauce solves a big problem at a critical time. Companies are relying more and more on their mobile channels where they have just seconds to prove their worth with a positive user experience and a lot of mobile apps aren’t thoroughly tested, if they’re tested at all. Automated testing in a virtual environment represents the future, and we’re providing it for the mobile ecosystem.
Based on the open source testing framework Appium, the Sauce Labs cloud-based platform for testing enables mobile developers to focus on definition and development of mobile apps while leveraging the Sauce Labs testing environment to facilitate and streamline testing. As the mobile app market expands, the ability of Sauce Labs to support testing of Android testing is especially crucial given that the market for Android apps is one of the few mobile app verticals experiencing rapid expansion.
According to the market analyst firm Canalys, Apple’s App Store, Google Play, the Windows Phone Store, and BlackBerry World—the top four app stores—reported 13.4 downloads globally in Q1 of 2013, an 11% increase as compared to the entirety of 2012. In revenue terms, the top four app stores reported $2.2 billion in revenue from app downloads alone, or an increase of 9% over 2012. Whereas Apple’s App Store claimed 74% of revenue, Google Play claimed 51% of downloads with the Apple App Store coming in a close second.
Canalys senior analyst Tim Shepherd summarized the market landscape for the four main app stores in the mobile app market landscape as follows:
Apple’s App Store and Google Play remain the heavyweights in the app store world. In comparison, BlackBerry World and the Windows Phone Store remain distant challengers today, though they still should not be ignored. Each of these four stores represents a different market proposition for developers, and remains the primary outlet to reach users on the platforms they serve.
By supporting Apple’s App Store and Google Play, the Sauce Labs testing platform supports the overwhelming majority of market share in the mobile app space in terms of both revenue and downloads. The company’s SaaS platform for mobile and desktop application testing currently runs approximately 5 million tests per month and supports testing on over 150 browser/OS combinations. Customers should expect Sauce Labs to additionally support testing for mobile apps via BlackBerry World and the Windows Phone Store as and assuming both markets mature.
CloudShare recently announced the release of a self-service lab that enables customers to create customized environments for development and testing in ways designed to radically accelerate the time to market for new applications and accelerate cycles for bug enhancements and new releases. The announcement means that developers can now provision IT resources and infrastructures to meet their testing and QA needs on demand. With CloudShare’s self-service lab, developers can conduct testing that allows teams to freeze bugs and take snapshots of applications and databases in addition to running multiple tests in parallel on replicated infrastructures.
CloudShare CEO Zvi Guterman commented on the value proposition of the CloudShare labs by remarking on how they facilitate access to IT resources for testing as follows:
Limited and slow access to infrastructure causes delays in release cycles and puts testing at risk of being incomplete, resulting in bugs in production. Lack of access to IT infrastructure and the limitation of existing solutions remain huge barriers to rapid innovation. With CloudShare Labs, application development and testing organizations work faster and companies will find a competitive advantage by gaining access to IT resources at the speed of development.
Guterman underscores the importance of developer access to dedicated IT resources that support development and testing. But the real innovation of CloudShare Labs consists in its ability to deliver advanced QA functionality that allows developers to more expeditiously fix bugs by way of the following functionality:
•Multi-VM disks can be leveraged to freeze bugs, fix them and reinsert the corrected the version into the original application
•The ability to replicate master environments to isolate and rectify defects caused by incorrect configuration
•Cross-functional team collaboration by way of a web browser console
•Libraries and templates of applications for subsequent testing and reference
The larger point, here, is that CloudShare expands the options for application development and testing to the cloud and delivers an environment with targeted testing functionality that is compatible with the Jenkins continuous integration server and the Microsoft Team Foundation Server. Enterprises can leverage their VPN platforms to share testing results with geographically dispersed teams and stakeholders. In addition to testing, customers can use the CloudShare platform fundamentally for development purposes as well by spinning up infrastructures designed for agile development and testing by uploading their own VMs or using CloudShare’s library of templates for virtual machines.