CloudFlex is for new and existing users of AWS that want to increase and optimise usage of AWS within their organisations:
One of the hardest parts of managing environments is changing them, especially when it is necessary to return to previously used ones.
CloudFlex allows you to save environment templates for future use. Templates can then be edited and adapted, started and stopped, or created from snapshots of other environments, all with a few clicks.
The highly intuitive CloudFlex interface makes setting up environments in the cloud extremely quick and simple with no special training required.
This puts control of the end-to-end process into the hands of team members and removes reliance on server administrators.
New environments can be provisioned in minutes, not the weeks and months that are commonly experienced with traditional infrastructure.
Avoid the risks of the 'pay for what you use' cloud model that can lead to high costs being incurred if not carefully managed.
The easy-to-use CloudFlex Task Scheduler allows common activities such as starting up, shutting down and backing up environments to be automated, meaning environments are only being paid for when in use.
The CloudFlex dashboard provides an instant overview of all your environments, so it’s easy to see what you are using at any given time.
CloudFlex is currently used by Intechnica client Nisa Retail, the UK’s leading member-owned wholesale and distribution business, supplying 3,750 shops across the country. Nisa Retail’s IT systems process £1.4 billion of transactions annually.
Intechnica use CloudFlex to provision environments for performance and functional testing in several major projects for Nisa Retail. Before CloudFlex, performance testing was being done against a moving target, with functional testing going on at the same time. CloudFlex relieves congestion on the main test environment by using cloud based environments, which are quickly launched as needed and shut down when finished with, cutting costs and providing flexibility.
The process is simple. For the first test:
For a subsequent test against the same codebase the Environment can simply be started from the same template by simply omitting step 1.
When a new code release is available:
After this update is complete they simply follow the same steps as a normal test run (steps 2-4).
Nearly every tester is too familiar with the problem of obtaining suitable test environments. At Intechnica we believe cloud provisioning of infrastructure is the solution. It offers instant set up, flexible scaling, pay-for-what-you-need pricing and the simplest way to outsource support and maintenance. For many test organizations it has the potential to replace “tin” completely, as it is doing in many businesses. Professional Tester coined the term test environment as a service to describe the concept in November 2010.
CloudFlex is a web application designed to make it easy to set up and manage test environments comprising virtual servers running on third-party cloud computing capacity. It provides a single environment used to manage server images, data, security, load balancing and geolocation.
At present it works with Amazon EC2, but its loosely coupled design makes applying it to other cloud providers straightforward: support for Microsoft Azure will be released soon. Useful new capabilities will be integrated as soon as they are made available by providers, so that they can be used with environments already built. Unlike much "cloudware", CloudFlex is not a promise or plan for the future: it’s working and available now.
Whether tin or cloud, the hardest part of managing environments is changing them, especially when it is necessary to return to previously used ones. Starting, stopping and configuring instances in EC2 requires work-intensive and complex command line operations where mistakes could lead to inaccurate test repetition and missed defects. CloudFlex replaces these with a clear user interface and automates the process of switching between environments.
This is achieved by creating environment templates using a simple wizard. All templates are accessed from a single screen and can be edited or adapted to create new ones easily. Any templated environment can then be started and terminated with a few clicks. CloudFlex’s dashboard displays the current status of all instances.
In this example we have considered using cloud to create test environments for an application that is running on tin. This works well for functional and usability testing, although some care must be taken ensure the test environment is sufficiently “like live” to avoid test results differing from those were the tests run on the live site.
Suppose, however, that the site owner makes the increasingly common decision to use EC2 or another cloud service to host it. Now test environments can be built which are exactly the same as the live environment in all respects necessary for the testing at hand. As well as removing any risk of inaccurate functional testing results caused by lack of realism, this means accurate performance, reliability and scalability testing can be done by creating additional instances to run performance testing tools injecting load to the test environment.