Ken Johnston isn’t one of the big names in technology. Rather, he’s one of the many technology employees who fills a vital but often unsung role: that of software tester. That’s been Johnston’s path for the better part of two decades, and he’s been doing it for Microsoft since 1998. Over time Johnston has shifted between different types of projects and now works on the Bing Commerce Team as the Principal Test Manager. Johnston takes great pride in testing, but is also aware of how much the industry has changed as we breached into the new millennium. He shared those insights in a recent post on the Bing blog.
While the entire post is worth a read (and goes into greater detail on a number of fronts), it’s also fairly lengthy. Here’s a brief summary of Johnston’s thoughts on testing software when it’s running at a massive cloud dispersal level.
- Bing is an intensely automated service, both running in the cloud and running the cloud. That giant size makes it hard (but not impossible) to break the software.
- More frequent iterations are possible because it’s easier to roll out and roll back changes, and BUFT (“big up front testing”) isn’t necessary to as great of a degree.
- “Upstream testing,” a method that uses automated tests that run the entire cloud software process from the “before the beginning” to the “after the end” phases, becomes more critical.
- Testers have to work more closely with developers, partially because there are certain tests and forms of automation that testers can’t create without access to a developer’s insider know-how.
- Because some bugs can’t be found in the testing phase when working at a mass scale (Bing taps into roughly a hundred thousand servers), it’s important to have a strong and easy-to-adjust architecture; it makes errors less likely and easier to fix.
Johnston has plenty more insights to bring to the table, and has indicated that he will gladly do so in the near future. In the meantime, those interested in learning from his experience should check out the book he wrote, How We Test Software at Microsoft.
[via the Bing Community Blog]