SaaS Testing Challenges to be Aware Of

While SaaS has gained much popularity over the recent past, SaaS testing challenges continue to create a wave in SaaS testing, with many enterprises being concerned with matters of security and where there documents will be located (just to mention a few). Regardless, many enterprises continue to adopt SaaS mainly due to its benefits, such as pay-per-use and on demand service. Unlike on-premise applications, the success of SaaS applications is majorly pegged on thorough testing for integrity. The process involves testing of security, business logic, data integration, performance, as well as scalability.

SaaS Testing Challenges

1. Security and Privacy Testing

For most businesses, the security issue is perhaps the main issue of concern, and being in a multi-tenant environment, security, accessibility, and privacy matters need to be assured in SaaS applications. Testing for accessibility involves stimulating users with different permissions and privileges. The testing should ensure that no one tenant’s data could be shared with another tenant. Security testing includes testing cookies and SQL injections. Simulating such tests with different user behaviors is a much daunting task.

2. Performance Testing

It is critical to identify the parts of the application more often used and in turn test them for performance. It is important to simulate the real-life scenario using a large number of users, including those from different locations, whilst at the same time varying other factors in which your application will run. While this may be a difficult task, it is a very important step in application testing.

3. Short Notice Period and Frequent Releases

SaaS application providers frequently upgrade their application. Therefore, it is necessary for customers to test the application for security and validity. Normally, the service provider allows a week or two for the QA team to handle it. It is such a challenging task to ensure that existing applications are running successfully. Maintaining security within such a short time span is not an easy job. In addition, any kind of testing, including simulation of live upgrades done on the application can interfere with the work of other existing users.

4. Integration and Migration

For both incoming and outgoing data, data integration testing is required to integrate a SaaS application with applications of other clients. Testing for data validity while maintaining privacy and data security is a very challenging task. Data migration between SaaS apps or from other applications to SaaS requires ample time to understand the essential requirements and test the integration outcome.

5. Knowledge of Business

It helps to realize that clients need to have people with thorough understanding or in-depth business knowledge of that particular SaaS application, as this will assist in sorting out both the configurable and non-configurable components. It will also help in realizing the impact of change of the components. Therefore, the SaaS application should be tested for business logic and workflows and other component functionalities.

6. Licensing

Among SaaS testing challenges, the issue of licensing of SaaS apps varies on factors such as functionality, usage, and number of current/existing users. Software testers should test for all these parameters, especially after a new release is made.

7. Too Many Pages

Feature-rich SaaS apps can have many pages, increasing the time required for testing. While automation tools in an ideal world could have reduced the problem, automated scanners today often find at most 20 percent of vulnerabilities that lie within an application. Therefore, the huge number of pages poses a challenge in testing SaaS applications.

8. Tools Haven’t Matured

While automated scanners were typically built to reduce the manual aspect in security testing, particularly when new versions are released frequently, even highly rated scanners today will often fall short of this expectation. Today’s tools reduce the burden of brute force testing.

As a software delivery model, SaaS software and the associated data are both hosted centrally but made available to end users over a network, such as the internet. Since it is an exclusive model, the concept of testing a SaaS implementation – from the clients’ point of view – poses great SaaS testing challenges. As such, below are things to consider before testing a SaaS application.

  • White box testing is impossible as the SaaS service provider may only provide access to their test environment rather than their code base
  •  Testing teams do not control scheduling of jobs and require support from the vendor
  •  Access to the database will also be restricted and therefore verification of test results will have to be done only from the front end
  •  The testing team will not be able to have access and direct communication with the technical team of the vendor, leading to ineffective communication
  •  A tussle always exists between the development and the testing team especially in seeing eye-to-eye for what it means to have a defect or none
  • Since SaaS applications have several features that come bundled with them, it is important that the testing team knows the defining scope in order to avoid wasting too much time and effort on testing less useful or unnecessary functionalities
  •  Another potential source of misunderstanding/ miscommunication may be in the highlighting the difference between a configuration defect and a code defect
  •  The last challenge comes from the mere fact that SaaS providers constantly make major updates to their current/ existing clients, periodically. Generally, testing teams are not accustomed to see the big picture or the complete overhaul of the user interface or even new functionalities while in the middle of a testing cycle. But in the process of testing SaaS application, the testing team needs to be aware of existence of such possibilities.

Conclusion

In summary, once the testing team acknowledges that unique challenges specific to testing SaaS implementation exist and in turn plan accordingly, then many surprises can be avoided, especially at later stages. To be on the safe side, generally, you should plan to address these challenges prior to testing to be assured of a smooth roll out. While SaaS testing challenges continue to face the testing team, application testing has to be done, especially security and performance testing around functionalities that are often used.

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Omri Erel
Omri is the Head of Demand Generation, as well as the Lead Author & Editor of the SaaSAddict Blog. Omri established the SaaSAddict blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to SaaS and cloud migration.
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