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Load Testing Takes To The Cloud

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Cloud computing is the buzz word that will not go away, no matter how many times sceptics try to swat it as it swarms in the air.

Recent Developments
While the cloud has been something of a pipe dream for many years, recent improvements in connectivity and a wealth of providers have allowed for an explosion in the adoption of this type of technology in the business market.

Software as a service (SaaS) is a particularly powerful asset of the cloud, allowing companies to invest in scalable, flexible solutions that are also affordable and not limited by on-premises hardware.
Meanwhile, consumers are becoming more accustomed to using cloud services, even if they may not be aware that they fall into this particular category.
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Bearing the Load
Load testing tools, which are designed to put a system through its paces and check for weaknesses before it is fully implemented, are arguably a natural fit for the cloud, which is why a number of firms have emerged to fill this niche.

Interestingly, it is also becoming apparent that you need to carry out load testing to establish the capabilities and limits of cloud platforms themselves, with firms such as Apica rolling out recent solutions which target this area of the market.

The cloud is regularly touted as offering near-infinite flexibility for its users, but of course there are physical limits to what can be achieved and probing the edges of a cloud platform’s capacity will allow providers to work out what promises they can make to customers without risking a backlash.

This ultimately results in a situation in which cloud networks of interconnected data centres are being used to test other networks with similar infrastructure arrangements.

The cloud is a complicated and malleable beast, although outages occurring over the course of 2012 have shown that it is not infallible. Even major providers such as Amazon have experienced downtime due to inclement weather, so the prospect of DDoS attacks and other manmade disasters should also be accounted for in testing.

It is easier for cloud critics to be vocal if they have ammunition in the form of specific examples, which indicate a failure in a platform. With proper load-testing tools targeted at the cloud that can actually stretch it, this can be avoided.

Do you consider yourself a cloud evangelist or are you a little more cautious in your approach to this type of IT technology?

Phil Easton is a clouding-computing and software specialist writing a variety of articles on behalf of reflective.com.

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