Ultimate Guide to Profound IoT Application Testing
IoT App Testing: The Essence
IoT testing includes functional and integration testing relevant to the specifics bound to distributed architectures, performance testing to check how the app handles large volumes of streaming data, security testing at the levels of IoT application, gateways and devices.
The actual IoT testing setup plan will vary depending on the IoT solution’s requirements, the chosen development model, the current SDLC stage of your IoT project. However, there are some common stages to go through.
1. Designing IoT application testing process
Assign a separate QA manager as early as requirements specification development to ensure IoT functional requirements are designed in a testable way. Typically, the requirements are drawn up in a form of user stories.
Decide how often a future QA team and the IoT development team should collaborate to ensure relevant test cases’ prioritization, efficient defects’ management and regression testing. Choose a relevant project management tool to streamline their collaboration.
Consider possible IoT testing risks and design an all-around risk mitigation plan for your project. Among the risks there can be:
- Non-scalable, incomplete, improperly configured IoT test environment not fully reflecting the actual hardware configurations, lacking simulators or virtualization tools.
- Improper test automation frameworks’ choice and configuration.
- Lack of IoT testing talents to promptly create and execute test cases addressing potential IoT-specific quality issues.
2. Preparing for in-house IoT app testing
The assigned QA manager designs an overall IoT test strategy and plan, including effort estimation. As an IoT system’s architecture is prone to changes, the QA manager needs to regularly revise and update the test artifacts accordingly.
Then, the manager assembles an IoT testing team or teams.
Note: You may require several testing teams to cater to different IoT application modules. The actual number of testing teams will depend on the application’s architectural complexity.
Besides, to avoid time- and data-intensive repetitive test case execution, an IoT testing project requires a balanced combination of manual and automated testing. A separate team should be assembled to take over automated testing.
Best practice: Automate integration, regression testing, and critical functional test cases, while performance testing is inherently automated. Still, IoT security, usability, and the majority of functional test cases should be performed manually.
Testing types that should be well-presented in your IoT application test plan:
An IoT application requires thorough functional testing at the API level. Firstly, a test engineer checks each IoT app component in isolation, sending test input events to each component to validate its output and behavior against requirements. Then, end-to-end functional API test cases are run to ensure the proper functioning of the entire IoT application. As soon as the UI is ready, test engineers also validate the functioning of its components. Finally, during IoT field testing, test engineers validate the proper functioning of the whole IoT system under specific network configurations and compelling real-life environments.
Validating an IoT apps, special attention should be paid to the flawless communication between different IoT app components and their tech stack compatibility. Besides, IoT solutions are often integrated with enterprise solutions like asset tracking and monitoring, field service applications, ERP, CRM, an external data warehouse. Thus, external integration tests are required to validate complex enterprise workflows and quality data transfer, ensure that the data changed in one system is altered accordingly in all the connected systems, and the relevant change history is available.
To ensure an IoT application’s resilience to hacker attacks, a security test engineer reviews the security of the system architecture, performs the vulnerability assessment and penetration testing.
To safeguard the entire IoT system’s cyber-security, you can also opt for the security testing of:
- IoT field gateways (validating the communication channel security and proper data encryption).
- IoT devices (examining the devices’ firmware and its upgrade process for vulnerabilities, reviewing the boot process from security perspective).
Additionally, your IoT test plan may include performance testing to:
- Measure the IoT app’s performance metrics (e.g., latency, throughput, response time, CPU utilization).
- Validate the stability of the entire application’s functioning and graceful degradation under stress load, changing operational and network conditions (like intermittent failures or the loss of network connectivity).
- Consider the effects of thousands of devices continuously sending and receiving data.
Note: Not all the popular performance testing tools support IoT-specific communication protocol standards (e.g., MQTT, XMPP, CoAP, SOAP).
3. Vendor selection for outsourced IoT testing
If you realize your in-house resources are insufficient for overarching IoT testing and you are not interested in hiring or training required resources, consider collaboration with an IoT testing vendor. To select a fitting vendor, you should:
- Design a comprehensive request for proposal (RFP) in line with your IoT solution’s specific requirements and architecture.
- Look for QA vendors with successful IoT testing projects in your domain.
- Consider the testing vendors’ tech stack and availability of human resources to meet your needs.
- Shortlist 3-5 vendors with eligible experience and resources.
- Share your IoT testing RFP with shortlisted vendors to get their cost estimations and an IoT testing presentation. This way, you can understand the vendors’ approach to an IoT testing strategy, testing teams’ lineup, testing toolkit, the planned test automation involvement.
- Negotiate an SLA and IoT testing cost with the matching vendor.
4. IoT testing launch
To get IoT testing started, testing teams design test cases and develop test scripts. Then, to check the end-to-end entire system’s functioning, an IoT test lab is created with the help of chosen service virtualization tools and simulators. You should mind that for IoT field testing the best practice is to use some real IoT devices.
Testing a complex IoT system may require several testing teams each responsible of a system’s specific module. Below we describe basic testing project roles.
QA manager (for projects involving several testing teams)
- Helps design IoT requirements in a testable way.
- Develops a robust IoT test strategy and plan with regard to the solution’s requirements and architecture.
- Gathers IoT testing teams.
- Decides on IoT test management software.
- Guides the IoT test lab setup process and acquisition of its components.
Testing team lead (one per each testing team)
- Designs a test plan for the corresponding IoT app’s component.
- Guides test engineers, measures and analyzes their performance.
- Solves testing process issues and comes up with relevant testing process improvements.
Note: the actual number of test engineers within each testing team will be subject to the IoT module’s functional and tech complexity.
- Designs and maintains IoT app’s test cases.
- Executes manual testing.
- Reports defects via prescribed tools.
Automated testing team lead
- Decides which IoT integration and functional test scenarios suit test automation and will comprise an automated regression test suite to be run after each change of an IoT system.
- Designs test automation architecture for the IoT application.
- Chooses test automation tools and frameworks relevant for the IoT solution under test.
- Collaborates with the IoT architect and developers to ensure test scripts’ maintainability and granularity.
Test automation engineer
- Configures relevant test automation tools.
- Develops, executes, and maintains IoT automated integration and regression test scripts.
- Reports defects after analyzing test results.
Security test engineer (for the entire project)
- Develops a threat model for the IoT system to proactively outline potential security issues.
- Carries out code audit and vulnerability assessment of the IoT solution.
- Evaluates IoT devices’ access security and firmware configuration, provides instructions on how to mitigate the revealed issues.
- Performs penetration testing of the IoT solution in line with OWASP’s top 10 security risks check list for IoT systems.
QA management and testing teams are in-house
This option offers complete control over the IoT testing process. Still, you may lack testing professionals or competence in certain IoT testing specifics or testing types (e.g., integration, security, performance testing, data quality checks).
QA management is in-house; testing teams are completely or partially external
This model can help you balance IoT testing costs by timely scaling up and down the number of testing team members proficient in IoT testing specifics. However, you need a skilled QA manager to design and plan the IoT testing process, guide and regularly evaluate the IoT testing advance and the efficiency of external testing teams.
QA management and testing teams are outsourced
With this option, you may get robust IoT testing with experienced QA management and IoT testing talents, IoT testing best practices, and well-versed IoT test strategy and plan. Still, you should wisely choose an IoT testing vendor with scalable offering of testing experts, get ready for knowledge transfer, and mind potential communication issues between the outsourced QA teams and in-house IoT development team and test engineers, if any.
- Belongs to the SmartBear family – 2019 Gartner leader in software test automation.
- Enables automated API functional testing essential for IoT testing projects as most of the data sharing within an IoT system is conducted via APIs.
- Support for HTTP, SOAP, RESTful testing.
- Offers SOAP, REST Mock Service, and service virtualization (with ReadyAPI – a paid version of SoapUI).
IoT app automated API testing with API mocking and service virtualization.
SoapUI - open-source, ReadyAPI Virtualization – $1,378/user/year.
- The most popular open-source performance testing solution among Gartner reviewers.
- Enables testing IoT software behavior under varying continuous loads and different network speeds by throttling outgoing bandwidth.
- Helps test the communication between IoT system components supporting MQTT, CoAP, HTTP, AMQP, and Kafka-specific protocols.
- Helps with load and stress testing of SQL and NoSQL data warehouses.
- For IoT systems leveraging Hadoop MapReduce-based data processing, there’re specific plugins for the validation of MapReduce JobTracker service.
IoT app performance testing.
- Gartner Peer Insights Customers’ Choice for Application Security Testing in 2020.
- Enables vulnerability scanning of IoT web user interfaces and REST APIs.
- Integrates with the OpenVAS network security scanner to enable network security assessment.
- Helps detect over 6,500 vulnerabilities, including SQL injections, XSS, misconfigurations, weak passwords, missing authorization, exposed FTP, SSH, and database servers.
- Generates reports in line with OWASP Top 10 and CVSS vulnerability severity classification.
- Integration with popular CI/CD tools like Jenkins, project and test management tools like Jira or Github (Premium package).
IoT app and network security scanning.
Free trial for 14 days, 3 limited web scans, and 3 full network scans. Standard package – $4,500/user/year; Premium - $7,000/year/unlimited number of users.
Each IoT solution is unique and requires a tailored testing process, thus, IoT testing costs vary dramatically. Among the main factors determining IoT application testing cost are:
- Number and complexity of IoT app functions.
- Required number of intended users.
- IoT system’s performance requirements (including scalability, reliability, average response time, the number of transactions per unit time, etc.).
- Technologies used in the IoT solution (e.g., real-time monitoring, big data analytics, AI and machine learning, etc.).
- Number and complexity of IoT system components.
- Number of required third-party integrations.
- Specific security and compliance requirements (e.g., HIPAA, GLBA, SOX, GDPR).
The cost calculation factors specific for different sourcing models:
For an in-house option
- Number of IoT testing teams and test engineers within each one.
- IoT testing and QA professionals’ hiring costs and fully loaded salary.
- Additional training for testing teams’ members.
- Cost of employed tools (e.g., IoT testing frameworks’ licenses, simulators, virtual machines and storage, etc.)
For an outsourced option
- Number of IoT testing teams and test engineers within each one.
- IoT testing professionals’ rates (based on their experience and competence).
- IoT testing time based on:
- Total number of test cases.
- Design and maintenance efforts per test case.
- For testing outsourcing going in parallel with the app’s development:
- Percentage of test automation.
- Regression test coverage.
As an example, we can take a testing project for a company manufacturing automotive engines having 4 factories across a country. Each smart factory has 6 departments with 5-10 machines equipped with IoT sensors. The sensors measure the machines’ temperature, vibration, run time, operating speed, and product output. The IoT cloud-based event-driven application enables near real-time monitoring of the factories’, departments’, and machines’ performance; OEE and other KPIs’ visualization in reports and dashboards. The company requires a single-round acceptance testing.
The rough estimate for this testing project, including functional, integration, performance, security testing types will be about $70,000.
Note: The system’s field testing costs aren’t included and should be counted additionally.
Consider Professional IoT Testing Services
With 31 years in software testing services and 9 years in IoT solutions delivery, ScienceSoft’s QA experts can promptly get into your IoT solution’s specifics (within 3 weeks) and ensure its high quality.
IoT testing consulting
ScienceSoft’s consultants will:
- Design a general test strategy and plan for the entire IoT application and test plans for each module.
- Create a test automation architecture for IoT system’s components.
- Help select optimal IoT testing frameworks and tools.
- Provide estimation and costs breakdown for IoT testing efforts.
- Advise on an optimal sourcing model for your IoT testing project.
- Perform analysis and mitigation of potential IoT application testing issues, in case of an ongoing project.
IoT testing outsourcing
ScienceSoft’s testing experts will:
- Design the IoT testing process: a test strategy and plan for the entire IoT app and for specific modules; a test automation architecture with regard to the specifics of each IoT app component; a tailored testing toolkit.
- Set up and maintain the IoT test lab, generate and manage IoT test data.
- Develop, execute, and maintain IoT test cases and scripts.
- Create a reusable automated regression test suite for your IoT system.
ScienceSoft is a global IT consulting, software development, and QA company headquartered in McKinney, TX, US. We deliver outsourced QA services for IoT testing projects to help our customers ensure smooth functioning, robust integrations, scalability, and security of their IoT solutions.