​I recently heard from a customer who was curious if Skytap Cloud environments compete with a leading Service Virtualization solution I used to evangelize in a past life.

Not at all – in fact the invention of Service Virtualization resolved some of the primary constraints to serious enterprise adoption of public dev/test cloud environments. We used to describe this phenomenon of constrained components as “wires hanging out of your cloud.”

Take any system that you need to have ready for testing, but is not readily available. It could be a heavy mainframe that is too bulky to image as a VM, or a third party service you don’t have the access permission to copy. It would be much easier if you could realistically simulate just the behavior and data you need to run tests with those components.

Enter Service Virtualization (or SV), which gives us a lightweight way to eliminate these constraints by replacing them with Virtual Services. This new technology is rapidly becoming a standard practice in large enterprises, with several major vendors offering solutions in the space. SV is proven to “cut the wires” of dependencies in dev/test environments.

That’s great for traditional on-premise environments, but it is especially useful in cloud dev/test scenarios, where speed is of the essence. Cloud infrastructure has come a long way in the last few years as well – offering increased capacity and performance at decreasing cost. But there will always be some components that just don’t make sense to port directly to cloud.

In many cases, you don’t need, or even want the real thing in your dev/test cloud. Production systems may respond and perform unpredictably. If you are developing an application that will talk to production systems, you will likely need to suss out all the boundary conditions in your battery of tests. For instance, what if the mainframe responds in 30 seconds instead of 3 seconds, or .3 seconds? What if my partner’s service returns my form request with an unknown error, or a bunch of SQL hack statements? 

It takes too much work and coordination to try and make every other team’s system respond exactly as you want. But you can easily make a virtual service do what you want. Better to focus on the aspects of development testing, integration and performance testing that are in the scope of your requirements, and automate the rest. 

The same concern applies to virtualizing test data. A related set of tools can handle virtual test data management, or vTDM, so you don’t have to deal with extracting and loading huge volumes of production data into dev/test environments. When policy demands test data be scrubbed of sensitive info before being loaded, this becomes another lightweight asset that can provide valid “virtual test data” and be spun up in a public dev/test cloud.

What’s cool is that all of these new age development and test technologies can be loaded into an environment definition in Skytap Cloud, along with all the pre-configured servers, network and domain settings, and management controls needed to advance development, test and release activities faster than we ever imagined.

Yes, they are great technologies separately, but when pulled together using elastic, secure and high-performance cloud dev/test environments, and given automation, they make up a complete breakfast of dev/test champions that is almost too good to believe. 

Now all we need is a cartoon mascot for our DevTest Cloud cereal … unicorns, anyone?

Interested in learning more about how service virtualization can help you increase both speed and quality in parallel? Check out this on-demand webinar, titled, “The Software Virtualization Lifecycle,” that we recently presented with Orasi!

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