Sandbox Testing in the Cloud

Mary E. Shacklett, President, Transworld Data | 10/31/2011 | 9 comments

Mary E. Shacklett
Testing and quality assurance are two of the least emphasized areas in corporate IT, but without appropriate attention to it, applications, systems, and the business face enormous risk of failure. Nevertheless, organizations continue to create, use, and tear down testing environments for applications and full integration tests in much the same way as they did 20 years ago. They use homegrown tools or sets of commercial tools that are mixed and matched depending on the application. They allocate partitions on physical or virtual servers, which they populate with operating systems, databases, middleware, and any other relevant assets that an application touches. This, of course, consumes processing power, disk space, energy, and IT staff time.

To get around this resource-hungry, conventional testing methodology, take advantage of some new approaches to testing, like sandboxing and testing “resource rentals” in the cloud.

A number of cloud service providers offer provisioning of on-demand system and application testing environments. Using these services can be more efficient and cost-effective than using on-site resources. When cloud provisioning for application development and testing combines with commercially available sandbox technology, IT can further improve its testing environment and its expense ratio.

The principle behind the sandbox is much the same as it is for traditional testing with dedicated resources: It is isolated from production and other testing and staging activity. In this reserved environment, you perform testing or even application prototyping without the risk of introducing adverse results from the testing into a live network, system, database, application, or other technology resource. The sandbox provides a tightly controlled set of resources for testable applications to run in, along with disk and memory resources. Advancements in virtualization and operating systems test toolkits allow for sites to quickly create instances of operating system environments that the applications being tested can use.

In a sandbox test environment, virtual machines can emulate a complete host computer, on which a conventional operating system may boot and run as on actual hardware. If the test is for security, you can create an environment that emulates corporate desktop computers, evaluating how malware could infect and compromise a target host. Sandboxes can even be set up for users to test a small portion of code with a graphical user interface (GUI), to see if a certain navigation or drilldown concept can be applied to a broader set of applications.

What makes sandbox testing even more exciting is the fact that IT is not limited to a specific platform or operating system. There are both closed-source and open-source sandbox toolkits available. They cover virtually every operating system. The most advanced ones even come with automated self-checking, which ensures that any test operating environment IT creates remains compatible with the native operating system environment the application being tested will use in production.

Now let’s return to the cloud and the sandbox combination. The value proposition here for businesses is that they can purchase sandbox (or even conventional) provisioning of physical, virtual, networking, software, and other resources at a subscription or pay-per-use rate from a third-party provider. Some cloud providers appearing on the scene can deliver the kind of industrial-strength security and governance that corporate IT expects from its own datacenters.

The benefit of having the cloud as a potential sandbox resource is that it can eliminate the need to pay for extra hardware (or software licensing) in order to support testing and application development.

How do sites use the cloud? They perform their application development and testing (either of a sandbox or a traditional variety) in the cloud. When the application is ready to move to production, they migrate it over to computers in their own datacenters, where it operates under the corporate roof.

This kind of reliable, inexpensive testing can save you a lot of pain and hassle later. You can save money, time, and resources over traditional testing and still catch the disasters waiting to happen.

View Comments: Newest First | Oldest First | Threaded View
Mary E. Shacklett   Sandbox Testing in the Cloud   11/3/2011 4:02:45 PM
Re: Your sandbox?
Hi ksharon,

This is where vendor security comes in.

If it can't meet your internal standards, you have no business placing  apps out there.

Mary
User Ranking: Blogger
kstaron   Sandbox Testing in the Cloud   11/3/2011 2:52:11 PM
Your sandbox?
I think i have agree with SaneIT.  In order to replicate a test environment you have to put up sensitive data. most oftem compnaies are not willing to play that kind of numbers game with data that could deliver social security numbers, account numbers, and intellectual property data sensitive to thier business off to others and hope for the best. What happens when someone else picks you yout toy out of the sandbox?
CurtisFranklin   Sandbox Testing in the Cloud   11/2/2011 1:39:32 PM
Re: Sandbox Testing in the Cloud
@SaneIT, I get that, but I find it interesting that we are willing to trust so many critical pieces of our business to others. We trust our cash to banks (organizations that have, as a group, a rocky history), we trust transport of critical documents and goods to various shippers (with insurance, yes, but also varying reputations for reliability), and we often trust our staffing and HR functions to third-party service providers. In each of these cases we are willing to establish trust relationships and allow the external party with the keys to one or another part of our house.

Cloud computing seems to be a special case, and I suppose I'm just having trouble figuring out why the very name seems to elicit such a visceral response in so many people. Time-share computing (which is, essentially, cloud computing with leased lines rather than the Internet as a transport mechanism) has been around for almost 50 years, and has been used by most major companies without serious problems. Change the transport method and it seems that the entire relationship is re-defined. Why do you think that is?
SaneIT   Sandbox Testing in the Cloud   11/2/2011 9:28:28 AM
Re: Sandbox Testing in the Cloud
@CurtisFranklin, I think the problem is that from a corporate sense it's like handing out keys to our house to everyone in your neighborhood and trusting that they are good people.  You can check out a company before trusting them with your data but there is a big leap of faith when it comes down to handing sensitive data over to anyone.
CurtisFranklin   Sandbox Testing in the Cloud   11/1/2011 11:05:28 PM
Re: Sandbox Testing in the Cloud
@SaneIT, you and @Hospice_Hangbou asked variations on the same question: Can you trust your cloud provider? It seems interesting to me that this remains the most frequently verbalized question about cloud computing after several years of security development and a track record that's prett good on security. There's just something about the concept that people are still not trusting...
CurtisFranklin   Sandbox Testing in the Cloud   11/1/2011 11:03:26 PM
Re: Cloud sandbox
@Hospice_Houngbo, management ease is a good question. Another one I'd have is the extent to which we can be sure that the surrounding infrastructure accurately mimcs the enterprise infrastructure in which the application will be run. For gross initial testing it's not as critical, but the closer one gets to a "real" application the more the interaction between the server code and the services surrounding the server will matter.

I'm intrigued, but still have questions...
SaneIT   Sandbox Testing in the Cloud   11/1/2011 8:13:53 AM
Re: Sandbox Testing in the Cloud

I have one minor problem with a sandbox in the cloud. Typically I see sandboxes setup to be less secure than a production environment at first so you can work the bugs out and tighten up as needed so that the tricky parts can be hashed out without holding up the entire project.  This practice will probably have to end or you'll have to be very aware of the fact and keep security in mind from the beginning or you'll have to make sure your sandbox only holds garbage data and nothing proprietary.

Gigi   Sandbox Testing in the Cloud   11/1/2011 4:34:04 AM
Gigi
Re: Cloud sandbox
Any product or services, which are going to public IP has to undergo the vulnerability test. Vulnerability tests are very important like authentication and authorization tests. It makes sure that your product can withstand all sorts of hacking and other illegal way of accessing.
Hospice_Houngbo   Sandbox Testing in the Cloud   10/31/2011 12:05:39 PM
Cloud sandbox
With cloud sandbox companies can indeed save time and money as they will not have to wait weeks to build an in-house development and testing environment. I'm wondering though whether managing an a cloud sandbox is as easy as managing an in-house sandbox. What actions are taking to avoid that the new software will not end-up in the hands of a third party before its official launch?


The blogs and comments posted on EnterpriseEfficiency.com do not reflect the views of TechWeb, EnterpriseEfficiency.com, or its sponsors. EnterpriseEfficiency.com, TechWeb, and its sponsors do not assume responsibility for any comments, claims, or opinions made by authors and bloggers. They are no substitute for your own research and should not be relied upon for trading or any other purpose.

More Blogs from Mary E. Shacklett
Mary E. Shacklett   12/7/2011   7 comments
The promise of internal cloud infrastructures for organizations rests in a much hoped for seamless ability to traverse heterogeneous operating systems and hardware platforms, delivering ...
Mary E. Shacklett   12/5/2011   8 comments
Companies have recognized that they need to function 24/7 in a global economy -- and that they can ill afford to experience disasters and outages. This has given some "lift" to disaster ...
Mary E. Shacklett   12/2/2011   6 comments
Nothing is more important than your disaster recovery (DR) and business continuation plan when you really need it -- but the odds are pretty high that you never will. Hardly anyone ever ...
Mary E. Shacklett   11/29/2011   35 comments
CIOs have to know the business and how IT delivers value, but they also have to understand enough of the technology to inspire and earn the respect of their staff. Where is the fine line ...
Mary E. Shacklett   11/23/2011   24 comments
Right now, companies are striving to get their arms around real-time analytics and what it can mean for their businesses, but fraud detection software has been working in real-time for ...
Latest Archived Broadcast
In this episode, you'll learn how to stretch the limits of your private cloud -- and how to recognize the limits that can't be exceeded.
On-demand Video with Chat
IT has to deploy Server 2012 in a way that fits the architecture of its application delivery system.
E2 IT Migration Zones
IT Migration Zone - UK
Why PowerShell Is Important
Reduce the Windows 8 Footprint for VDI
Rethinking Storage Management
IT Migration Zone - FR
SQL Server : 240 To de mémoire flash pour votre data warehouse
Quand Office vient booster les revenus Cloud et Android de Microsoft
Windows Phone : Nokia veut davantage d'applications (et les utilisateurs aussi)
IT Migration Zone - DE
Cloud Computing: Warum Unternehmen trotz NSA auf die „private“ Wolke setzen sollten
Cloud Computing bleibt Wachstumsmarkt – Windows Azure ist Vorreiter
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Enterprise Efficiency Twitter Feed
Site Moderators Wanted
Enterprise Efficiency is looking for engaged readers to moderate the message boards on this site. Engage in high-IQ conversations with IT industry leaders; earn kudos and perks. Interested? E-mail:
[email protected]
Informed CIO: Dollars & Sense: Virtual Desktop Infrastructure
Cut through the VDI hype and get the full picture -- including ROI and the impact on your Data Center -- to make an informed decision about your virtual desktop infrastructure deployments.

Read the full report
Virtualization Management: Time To Get Serious
Welcome to the backside of the virtualization wave. Discover the state of virtualization management and where analysts are predicting it is heading

Read the full report
PUBLIC SECTOR RESOURCES
WHITE PAPERS
A Video Case Study – Translational Genomics Research Institute
e2 Storage Video


On the Case
TGen IT: Where We're Going Next

7|11|12   |   08:12   |   10 comments


Now that TGen has broken new ground in genomic research by using Dell's storage, cloud, and high-performance computing solutions, the company discusses what will come next for it and for personalized medicine.
On the Case
Better Care Through Better Communications

6|6|12   |   02:24   |   11 comments


The achievements of the TGen/Dell project could improve how all people receive healthcare, because they are creating ways to improve end-to-end communication of medical data.
On the Case
TGen IT: Where We Are Now

5|15|12   |   06:58   |   6 comments


TGen is breaking new ground in genomic research by using Dell's storage, cloud, and high-performance computing solutions.
On the Case
TGen IT: Where We Were

4|27|12   |   06:45   |   10 comments


The Translational Genomics Research Institute wanted to save lives, but its efforts were hobbled by immense computing challenges related to collecting, processing, sharing, and storing enormous amounts of data.
On the Case
1,200% Faster

4|18|12   |   02:27   |   12 comments


Through their partnership, Dell and TGen have increased the speed of TGen’s medical research by 1,200 percent.
On the Case
IT May Improve Children's Chances of Survival

4|17|12   |   02:12   |   8 comments


IT is helping medical researchers reach breakthroughs in a way and pace never seen before.
On the Case
Medical Advances in the Cloud

4|10|12   |   1:25   |   5 comments


TGen and Dell are pushing the boundaries of computing, and harnessing the power of the cloud to improve healthcare.
On the Case
TGen: Living the Mission

4|9|12   |   2:25   |   3 comments


TGen's CIO puts the organizational mission at the heart of everything the IT staff does.
On the Case
TGen Speeding Up Biomedical Research to Save More Lives

4|5|12   |   1:59   |   6 comments


The Translational Genomics Research Institute is revamping its computing to improve speed, storage, and collaboration – and, most importantly, to save lives.
On the Case
Computing Power Helping to Save Children's Lives

3|28|12   |   2:13   |   3 comments


The Translational Genomics Institute’s partnership with Dell is enabling them to treat kids with neuroblastoma more quickly and save more lives.
Tom Nolle
How Deep Is My Storage Hierarchy?

7|3|12   |   2:13   |   5 comments


At the GigaOM Structure conference, a startup announced a cloud and virtualization storage optimizing approach that shows there's still a lot of thinking to be done on the way storage joins the virtual world.
E2 Interview
What Other Industries Can Learn From Financial Services

6|13|12   |   02:08   |   3 comments


We asked CIO Steve Rubinow what CIOs in other industries can learn from the financial services industry about datacenter efficiency, security, and green computing.
E2 Interview
Removing Big-Data Flow Bottlenecks

6|12|12   |   02:55   |   No comments


We ask CIO Steve Rubinow what pieces of financial services infrastructure need to perform better to get traders info faster.
E2 Interview
Getting Traders the Data They Need

6|11|12   |   02:04   |   1 comment


We ask CIO Steve Rubinow: What do stock market traders need to know, how fast do they need it, and how can CIOs get it to them?
E2 Interview
Can IT Help Fix the Global Economy?

6|8|12   |   02:32   |   2 comments


We ask CIO Steve Rubinow whether today's IT can help repair the global economy (and if IT played any role in the economy's collapse).
E2 Interview
More Competitive Business via Datacenter Strategy

5|4|12   |   2:46   |   1 comment


Businesses need to be competitive, yet efficient, and both goals affect datacenter design.
E2 Interview
The Recipe for Greater Efficiency

5|3|12   |   3:14   |   2 comments


Intel supplies the best ingredients to drive greater datacenter efficiency and support new compute, storage, and networking needs.
E2 Interview
Datacenters Enabling Business Transformation

5|1|12   |   06:37   |   1 comment


Dell’s Gaurav Chand says that for the first time ever datacenter technology is truly enabling all kinds of organizations to transform their business and achieve new objectives.
Tom Nolle
Cloud Data: Big AND Persistent!

3|28|12   |   2:11   |   10 comments


We always hear about "Big" data, but a real issue in cloud storage is not just bigness but also persistence. A large data model is less complicated than a big application repository that somehow needs to be accessed. The Hadoop send-program-to-data model may be the answer.
Tom Nolle
Project Lightning Streamlines Storage

2|16|12   |   2:09   |   2 comments


EMC's Project Lightning has matured into a product set, and it's important, less because it has new features or capabilities in storage technology and management, than because it may package the state of the art in a way more businesses can deploy.
Tom Nolle
Big Data Appliance Is Big News

1|12|12   |   2:18   |   No comments


Oracle's release of a Hadoop appliance for Big Data may be a signal that we're shifting to database appliances.
Tom Nolle
Myopia Can Hurt Storage Policy

12|22|11   |   2:08   |   No comments


We're at the beginning of a cloud-driven revolution in storage, but Oracle's quarter shows that enterprises are hunkering down on old concepts because they're afraid of the costs in the near term.
Sara Peters
An Untrained User & a Mobile Medical Device

12|19|11   |   2:43   |   11 comments


Untrained end users, clueless central IT staff, and expensive mobile devices are a worrisome combination for healthcare CIOs.
Tom Nolle
Too Many Labels on 'Big Data'?

12|9|11   |   2:12   |   3 comments


However you label it, structured and unstructured information are different and will likely always require different tools.
Sara Peters
E2 Debuts New Storage Section

12|8|11   |   1:51   |   1 comment


Need strategic guidance on everything from SSDs to 100 percent virtualized datacenters? Look no further.