As all my testing teams are geographically distributed, I am obviously always trying to maximize the effectiveness of our test hardware infrastructure while looking very closely at costs (especially in this tough economic environment). I’m particularly trying to reach optimum flexibility and scalability for our environment. All the products I’m responsible for are developed and tested at different pace. They also might be at different maturity level requiring different test focus (I’m particularly thinking about performance and benchmarks).
At any given point in time, I might need to increase the capacity of our high-end Linux infrastructure for some benchmark effort, require huge amount of storage to simulate a customer data environment, need a lot of client machine to run some Selenium scalability testing on our web client, validating some customer fix on a very specific hardware environment etc. I need this flexibility at the snap of my fingers.
Virtualization is definitely the way to go and we’ve invested quite a bit in this direction over the years, especially around VMWare. However, it’s not perfect: We need people to manage the environment (We have the support of a very strong IT team but it is still a non-negligible cost), the hardware and OS level needs to be constantly updated to keep up with our customer requirement, it is still a bit difficult to move hardware instances around geography etc.
I ran across this article on the Agile Testing blog. Grig shares with us his experience deploying a large scale system in Amazon EC2 aka Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (don’t you love this name? Great job from the Amazon’s marketing folks !). I’ve heard about this cloud environment in the past but never quite realized what they were offering and how advanced they were. When you think Amazon, you think primarily books or music, not cloud infrastructure ! Well, if you go on their website, they offer everything I dream of: Elasticity (!), flexibility, a controlled and secure environment, on-demand instance and best of all, the cost seems quite reasonable (I need to do the actual math though )
This Amazon’s environment is something I’ll definitely dig a bit more. I’ll hopefully write a follow-up post if we decide to invest in it to share about our experience.