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An introduction to automation testing

Testing is vital both to ensure and assure that your software is ready for release. But what type of testing is best suited to your product?

Whilst the human touch of manual testing is what you require for most products such as CD-ROMs or e-learning courses, for more complex systems a different approach can often prove beneficial. This is where test automation comes in, offering systematised solutions for situations where manual testing is not cost-effective or is impractical for the types of testing required.

Of course, it’s important to understand when and what to automate. Understanding the basics of test automation and approaching it with a clear idea of your requirements and your products is vital for establishing your testing needs and returning high quality results.

So what can automation testing do? Let’s take a look at some common types of automated testing…

Stress Testing

Stress testing is used to determine the stability of a system or piece of software. Automated scripts are used to ‘overload’ the system by pushing it beyond ordinary operational capacity. This can mean depriving it of resources, simulating DoS (Denial of Service) attacks from hackers and botnets, or selectively stressing transactions and individual aspects of the system. In this way it can be established how robustly your system can handle unanticipated problems. After all, once a product is out in the world, the one thing you know you can expect is the unexpected.

Load and Performance Testing

Somewhat similar to stress testing, load and performance testing examines how a system or piece of software behaves when usage meets or exceeds what is expected from its target users. With a user-based website or server, for example, this type of automated test would simulate varying numbers of users all accessing areas of the site at the same time. The resulting report will tell you how well your system handles concurrent users. For example, if your system is designed for training staff and you expect to have 5,000 users logging on between the hours of 10am and 1pm, you want to be sure that your system and hardware can handle that many users.

Penetration Testing

Penetration testing is essential for a system on which confidential information will be stored. It simulates hacker attacks from unknown sources, to evaluate the system’s security. In this way, vulnerabilities can be identified and patched up ensuring the system can’t be exploited once it goes live. With security being an ever-present hot topic, and data piracy a real risk, knowing you’ve tested the safety and security of your system is the only way to guarantee peace of mind.

These three types of automation testing are the most common examples of what can be done with an automated test approach.

Epicentre’s own experience with automation testing, as outlined in our MSTE (Managed Service for Testing Excellence) framework, is complemented by the unique methodology of our test partners, STAG. We have many years of international experience between us. With STAG’s experience in designing bespoke test scripts and Epicentre’s expertise and familiarity with European standards, business practices, systems and presentation, customers are guaranteed accessible and comprehensive, technically incisive results. These are delivered via a quick process, offering communication and flexibility.