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IoT Application Testing Challenges and Complexities

03May,2017

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a network of physical objects (devices, vehicles, buildings, etc.) embedded with electronics, software, sensors & network connectivity that are designed to collect & exchange data. Enterprises are adopting the IoT for the benefits offered, e.g., operations optimization, cost reduction & improved efficiency. 
                                                    Iot-application-testing

IoT development & adoption are driven by multiple factors, including readily available low-cost sensors, increased bandwidth & processing power, wide-spread usage of smartphones, availability of big data analysis tools & scalability of IPV6.  Organizations are also focusing on external benefits, such as: generating revenues from IoT-enabled products, services, & customer experiences. The diagram to the left illustrates the interconnection among various subsystems in a typical IoT application. 

Unique Characteristics & Requirements of IoT Systems

Quality Assurance (QA) organizations are wise to view software testing beyond devices & sensors.  Huge volumes of data generated across a smart ecosystem add great technical complexity, demanding a holistic approach. IoT applications have several unique factors:

Testing Challenges for IoT Applications

Primary challenges:

Other operational challenges:

Addressing IoT Application Testing Complexities

A comprehensive test plan strategy requires various types of testing, test lab setup, tools & simulators to be deployed.Considering the difficulties in generating big data from the thing in a testing environment, it is crucial to evaluate data simulation & virtualization techniques. Stubs can be considered as options during early stages while data recorders can serve as alternatives at later stages. Beyond test planning & data simulation, metrics-driven, exhaustive test execution is performed to achieve a stable system. QA organizations can split IoT test areas into the two layers described below.

The Device Interaction Layer

This layer is where the software & the hardware components of a real-time IoT environment interact. One typical example is a BLE device transmitting real-time data to a mobile device app. There is often a lot of interaction testing occurring on the functional side of QA. However, other types of testing could also be required in addition to typical software testing:

The User Interaction Layer

This layer is the touch point between the thing & user. The success of the overall system depends on user receiving a seamless experience. Key tests in this layer include:

Creating a QA environment to enable validation of such an interface means addressing the growing data volume challenges of the IoT ecosystem. The front-end validation environment can be realized by assembling data recorders & simulators. The service & data layer validations will involve complex simulation services, such as the generation of millions of sensor hits, machine learning algorithms & the ability to generate time-boxed traffic.

There are methods to create such an ecosystem, e.g., leveraging sandboxes of development services or creating mock environments using virtualization tools. However, numerous implementation synergies are required to establish a working set of environments for a thorough services & back-end validation platform.

How to overcome the complexities & challenges of IoT Application Testing?

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