Don't forget to test those Internet aplications
Testing emerged as an important component of the application development life cycle
with the move to client/server computing a decade ago.
Client/server applications were far more complex than the mainframe or minicomputer
host-terminal software of the previous generation. The new model convinced
many -- though certainly not all -- IT development groups to utilize testing
tools from suppliers like Mercury Interactive, Rational, Segue Software
Today, client/server technologies have given way to the Internet revolution.
The complexity of application development has risen dramatically, far more
than the previous generational change. Electronic business applications
must be secure, yet available to thousands of businesses and consumers 24
hours a day, seven days a week. And if the applications don't work quickly
enough, the result is lost customers. Developers must also make sure that
multiple, diverse applications and technologies work together. Broken Internet
applications can translate into a loss of millions of dollars, and a reputation
damaged or ruined in the wink of an eye.
Witness the outages over the past few months at the eBay auction site, which
has faced intense competition during the last year. Last month, the site
failed several times -- failures that may have been caused by new applications
added to upgrade the site. That outage caused eBay's market value to drop
$4 billion in a single day, kept the company out of business for hours at
a time, and forced its founders to offer free listings. Clearly, these outages
cost eBay millions in revenue as well, not to mention the loss of some customers.
The eBay debacle is but one example of how developers of Internet
applications must get it right the first time. Businesses can no longer
afford to work through the kinks of Version 1.x of applications. The
software must be ready, and ensuring that requires well-planned testing.
This month's Special Report on Internet testing
("Testing e-commerce") can help developers wade through
the issues and get a feel for a new class of tools for testing Internet
applications. Writer Phil Courtney looks at some steps Internet developers
can take to test individual components and fully integrated Internet
apps. The report also includes a list of established and new tools
for testing Internet applications.
Our advice to IT developers is as follows: Ignore or downplay the testing
phase of the life cycle at your peril. The eBay calamity is but one example
of what can happen in the age of the Internet. Today's success can quickly
turn into failure. And a comprehensive testing plan is one key step for
avoiding a failure.
Michael W. Bucken
Mike Bucken is former Editor-in-Chief of Application Development Trends magazine.