Microsoft Azure outage shows clear need for different cloud testing

Software quality assurance for the cloud is not the same as for traditional applications, and the industry needs to adjust

Last week, Microsoft's Windows Azure cloud service suffered an outage that was later blamed on a leap year issue, a bug that is now fixed. Although this seems like par for the course in the world of software, cloud computing providers need to be much better than this.

Of course, Microsoft isn't the only cloud provider that suffers a face plant from time to time. Amazon Web Services has had well-publicized outages as well. Moreover, smaller providers have gone down on occasion, but they don't typically make the press.

[ Catch up on the state of cloud computing in 2012 with the InfoWorld editors' PDF special report. | Stay up on the cloud with InfoWorld's Cloud Computing Report newsletter. ]

The reality is that most of these outages can be traced back to human error, such as the Azure leap year bug. Bugs are errors in programming, and although people are bound to make mistakes, their impact is minimized if you perform quality assurance.

It's not my intent to pick on Microsoft, but it's a fact that more and more cloud computing systems are quickly being built and placed in production. As more users adopt cloud computing, glitches and bugs that lead to outages or other breaks will become commonplace.

Testing is the solution. As clouds move toward production, they need to undergo a unique set of trials. These tests are not yet well understood in the work of software testing and quality assurance. The unique needs of the cloud include the ability to tenant management, resource management, security, auditing, and yes, the ability to make it past leap day, to name just a few components.

The larger issue is that most quality assurance teams don't understand how to test cloud computing systems. Thus, they fall back on traditional software testing models, which are outdated for what they're trying to accomplish.

Cloud providers need to figure this problem out soon. Enterprises want cloud computing platforms they can trust. With a bit more work by providers, they could get them.

This article, "Microsoft Azure outage shows clear need for different cloud testing," originally appeared at Read more of David Linthicum's Cloud Computing blog and track the latest developments in cloud computing at For the latest business technology news, follow on Twitter.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

InfoWorld Technology of the Year Awards 2023. Now open for entries!