SLAs and Cloud Testing

A test team’s job is to report test results, not set or guarantee that you will meet the SLAs.

In the rush to cloud services, with everything-as-a-service, you will hear people talking about SLAs. What is this about and what does it have to do with testing?

A Service Level Agreement, or SLA, is a contract a service provider promises for a defined level of service, such as response time, throughput or capacity.

When a customer signs up for service, the provider promises, in contract, certain levels of service. The most important aspect is usually availability. 

Availability is the ability to access the system. Everyone wants their service available all the time. This is an impossibility for both good and bad reasons. Good reasons – downtime, patches, new build migration and system upgrades. Bad reasons – system crashes, security problems – denial of service, network/infrastructure problems.

Downtime happens and SLAs are meant to provide a promise from the provider, of how available the system will be.

This is an important part of marketing, sales and contracts for any cloud service provider, from HP and Amazon to consumer products in the cloud like Netflix and Foursquare.

Gartner analyst Lyida Leong blogged that Amazon Web Services, which Gartner named a market-leader in infrastructure-as-a-service cloud computing, has the “dubious status of ‘worst SLA (service level agreement) of any major cloud provider.” She also wrote, “HP’s newly available public cloud service could be even worse.”

What are reasonable SLAs for availability? What is common? The answer differs based on the service. For example, many people use “4 9s” which represents 99.99% uptime:

Think about this: for four nines availability allows 1 minute downtime per week. Wow. How safe do you think it is for a company to guarantee this? In one full year, that means down time of less than an hour.

So what does this mean for testing? Testing SLAs is all about system performance testing; load testing, stress testing. It is measurement of the various attributes of the product; capacity, response time, against agreed upon standards. What you have to remember is a test team’s job is to report test results, not set or guarantee you will meet the SLAs.

Michael Hackett
Michael is a co-founder of LogiGear Corporation, and has over two decades of experience in software engineering in banking, securities, healthcare and consumer electronics. Michael is a Certified Scrum Master and has co-authored two books on software testing. Testing Applications on the Web: Test Planning for Mobile and Internet-Based Systems (Wiley, 2nd ed. 2003), and Global Software Test Automation (Happy About Publishing, 2006). He is a founding member of the Board of Advisors at the University of California Berkeley Extension and has taught for the Certificate in Software Quality Engineering and Management at the University of California Santa Cruz Extension. As a member of IEEE, his training courses have brought Silicon Valley testing expertise to over 16 countries. Michael holds a Bachelor of Science in Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University.

The Related Post

Cloud computing has been the buzzword in the world of Information Technology for quite some time and it is likely to retain that status in the coming years. Cloud computing has been helping business enterprises deliver services faster and cheaper compared to all other existing delivery models. Small and medium business enterprises have changed their ...
Over the years we’ve provided an extensive number of articles, videos, and infographics that provide a wealth of knowledge about Continuous Delivery.
Having the right skills and experience, even if you have to go outside, is essential for designing tests for large-scale cloud deployments. Moving existing applications to a cloud environment adds new dimensions to testing. One of the primary reasons for moving to the cloud is scalability. Capacity to handle traffic and data transfer can be ...
Fitting QA into a modern DevOps group In a traditional software engineering organization, the QA group is often seen as separate from the Development group. Developers and testers have different roles, different responsibilities, different job descriptions, and different management. They are two distinct entities. However, for folks outside the engineering team – say in Operations ...
In this article, I share some of my experiences and observations on training teams, mainly in corporate settings. The operative word here is “team”, not “individual”. When training teams or groups in an organization, many of the considerations and benefits are different than those for the individual. We’ll examine those differences and I will share successful solutions. ...
Introduction Everything changes. It’s the only constant. The landscape of software testing is undergoing a fast and dramatic change driven by societal, business and technology changes that have placed software everywhere. Computing is ubiquitous. There is hardly anything today that doesn’t contain a CPU or information transmission capability, with software to drive it. From smart toasters ...
Aligning the Dev and Ops Teams DevOps as a philosophy has had as its centerpiece the principle that Dev and Ops teams need to align better. This is a people and organizational principle, not a process centric principle. To me this is more important when adopting DevOps than any other capability or tool. My last post ...
Throw away clunky hyper-visors, and stop thinking about computer hardware and software license during your development projects. The first thing you think about when you hear “The Cloud” may not be development and testing. The Cloudy market is filled with SaaS applications, hosting, and cloud-based file systems. All are very useful, and offer a clear ...
By Jez Humble and David Farley Continuous Delivery from Jez Humble and David Farley is an important contribution to the field of software development. It takes continuous integration to the logical conclusion and covers how to set up a continuous integration system, delving into everything from check-in to delivery to production. It doesn’t state you ...
As a software development company, what is your goal? What is the one thing you feel you need to do to ensure you have a job at the beginning of each wonderful work week? The answer is actually quite simple; You need to deliver a quality product. Like how I used the word simple? Although the answer I ...
Making the leap to CT is easier than you think— follow this guide to transform your testing process No pain, no gain! Achieving Continuous Testing shouldn’t take a “Hans and Franz” attitude. It should be painless, more like a natural progression from implementing certain practices over time.
Times have changed, the tools have improved, and with books like this available you have no reason to not give CI a go. I still remember the first time I was on a project that used NAnt and CruiseControl.NET. It was years ago and both were new tools with plenty of bugs. The project manager ...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Stay in the loop with the lastest
software testing news

Subscribe