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Using Tools to Create Mobile Apps Quickly
Perfecto Mobile goes to cloud-based testing so developers can build the best apps faster
By: Dana Gardner
Jun. 16, 2014 11:37 AM
We have surely entered a golden age of mobile apps development, not just for app stores wares, but across all kinds of enterprise and productivity applications. The notion of mobile-first has altered the development landscape so much that the very notion of software development writ large will never be the same.
With the shift comes a need for speed, but not so much so that security and performance requirements suffer. How to maintain the balance between rapid delivery and quality assurance falls to the testing teams. Into the fray comes cloud-based testing efficiencies.
Our next innovation case study interview therefore highlights how Perfecto Mobile is using a variety of cloud-based testing tools to help its developers rapidly create the best mobile apps for both enterprises and commercial deployment.
BriefingsDirect had an opportunity to learn first-hand how rapid cloud testing begets better mobile development when we interviewed Yoram Mizrachi, CTO and Founder of Perfecto Mobile, based in Woburn, Mass. The discussion is moderated by me, Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions.
Here are some excerpts:
Gardner: Tell us about the state of the mobile development market. How fast is it growing, and who are building mobile apps these days?
Mizrachi: Everyone is building mobile applications today. We have not gone into a single company that doesn't have anything on mobile. It's like what happened on the web 15 years ago. Mobile is moving fast. Even today, we have customers with more transactions on mobile than any other channel that they're offering, including web or making calls. Mobile is here.
Gardner: So that's a big challenge for companies that perhaps are used to a development cycle that took a lot longer, where they had more time to do testing and quality assurance. Mobile development seems to be speeding up. Is there a time crunch that they're concerned about?
Mizrachi: Absolutely. In mobile there are two factors that come into play. The first one is that everyone today is expecting things to happen much faster. So everyone is talking about agile and DevOps, and crunching the time for a version from a few months, maybe even a year, into few weeks.
With mobile, there's a bigger problem. The market itself is moving faster. Looking at the mobile market, you see hundreds of mobile models being launched every year. Apple is releasing many models. Android is releasing tremendous amount of new models every year. The challenge for enterprises is how to release faster on one side, but still maintain a decent quality on all the wide ranges of devices available.
Gardner: So that's a big challenge in terms of coming up with a test environment for each of those iterations.
Of course, we're also seeing mobile first, where they're going to build mobile, and it's changing the whole nature of development. It's a very dynamic and busy time for developers and enterprises. Tell us about Perfecto Mobile and how you're helping them to manage these difficult times.
Mizrachi: Yes, it is mobile first. Many of our existing customers, as I mentioned, have more transactions on mobile than anything else. Today, they're building an interface for their customers starting from mobile. This means there are tremendous issues that they need to handle, starting with automation. If automation was nice to have on traditional web -- with mobile it's no longer a question. Building a robust and continuous automated testing environment is a must in mobile.
Gardner: Now, we're talking about not only different targets for mobile, but we're talking about different types of applications. There's Android, Apple, native, HTML 5, Web, hybrid. How wide a landscape of types of apps are you supporting with your testing capabilities?
Mizrachi: When you look at the market today, mobile is moving very fast, and you're right, there are lots of solutions available in the market. One of the things that Perfecto Mobile is bringing to the market is the fact that we support them all. We support native, hybrid applications, Web services, iOS, Android, and any other platform. All of this is provided as a cloud service. We enable our customers to worry a little bit less about the environment and a little bit more about the actual testing.
Gardner: Tell us how you're doing this? I know that you are a software-as-a-service (SaaS) provider and that the testing that you provide is through a cloud-based model. A lot of organizations have traditionally done their own testing or used some tools that may have been SaaS-provided. How are companies viewing going purely to a SaaS model for their testing with their mobile apps?
Mizrachi: The nice thing about what we do with cloud is that it solves a huge logistical problem for the enterprises. We're providing managed solution for those physical devices. So it's many things.
One of them is just physically managing those devices and enabling access to them from anywhere in the world. For example, if I'm a U.S.-based company, I can have my workforce and my testing, located anywhere in the world without the need to worry about the logistics of managing devices, offshoring, or anything like that. Our customers are utilizing this cloud model to not change their existing processes when moving into mobile.
Gardner: And in order to be able to use cloud amid a larger application lifecycle, you must also offer application lifecycle management (ALM) or at least integrate with ALM, source code management, and other aspects of development. How does that work?
Mizrachi: Our approach was to not reinvent the wheel. When looking at the large enterprises, we figured out that the existing ALM solutions in the market, led by HP, is there, and the right approach is to integrate or to extend them into mobile and not to replace them.
What we have is an extension to the ALM products in such a way that you, as a customer, don't have to change your existing processes and practices in order to move to mobile. You'll have a lot of issues when moving into mobile, and we don't believe that changing the processes should be one of them.
Gardner: Of course with HP having some 65 percent of the market for ALM and a major market presence for a lot of other testing and business service management capabilities, it was a no-brainer for you to have to integrate to HP. But you've gone beyond that. You're using HP yourself for your own testing. Tell us how you came to do that.
Mizrachi: HP has the largest market in ALM, and looking at our customers in Fortune 500 companies, it was really obvious that we needed to utilize, integrate, or extend HP ALM tools in order to provide a market with the best solution.
One of the things I'm quite proud of is that we, as a company, have proof of success in the market, with hundreds of customers already using us and tens of thousands of hours of automation every month being utilized.
We have customers with thousands of automated scripts running continuously in order to validate the applications. It's a competitive environment, obviously, but with Perfecto Mobile, the value that we're bringing to the table is that we have a proven solution today used by the largest Fortune 500 companies in finance, retail, travel, utilities, and they have been using us not for months, but for years.
Gardner: Where do you see this going next? Is there a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) opportunity where we're going to do not just testing but development and deployment ultimately? If you are in the cloud for more and more of what you do in development and deployment, it makes sense to try to solidify and unify across a cloud from start to finish.
Mizrachi: I'm obviously a little bit biased, but, yes, my belief is that the software development life cycle (SDLC) is moving to the cloud. If you want to go ahead, you don't really have a choice. One of the major failures in SDLC is setup of the environment. If you don't have the right environment, just in time, you will fail to deliver regardless of the tool that you have.
Just in time
Moving to the cloud means that you have everything that you need just in time. It's available for you. Someone has to make sure this solution is available with a given service-level agreement (SLA) and all of that. This is what Perfecto Mobile is doing of course, but I believe the entire market is going into that. Software development is moving to the cloud. This is quite obvious.
For our customers, the top insurance and top financial banks customers, healthcare organizations, all of them, security is extremely important, and of course it is for us. Our hosting solution is a SOC 2-certified solution. We have dedicated personnel for security and we make sure that our customers enjoy the highest level of privacy and, of course, security -- physical security, network security, and all the tools and processes in place.
Gardner: And, as we know, HP has been doing testing in the cloud successfully for more than 10 years and moving aggressively in that space early on.
Mizrachi: We're enjoying the fact that our research and development center and HP's research and development center are close-by. So the development of the two products is very close. We have weekly or biweekly meetings between products and R and D teams in order to make sure that those two tools are moving together.
SDLC, as you mentioned, is a lifecycle. It's not only about one time testing; it's ongoing. And post-deployment, when moving into production, you need to see that what you're offering to the market on the real device is actually what you expect. That's extremely important.
As the mobile market matures, organization are relying more on mobile to assure and increase their revenue. So making sure the mobile offering is up and running and meets the right key performance indicators (KPIs) on an ongoing basis is extremely important. The integration that we've made with BSM is utilizing an existing extremely mature product on the monitoring aspect and extending that with cloud-based real mobile devices for application monitoring.
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