23 Sep 2012

SOA Testing Tool Selection – How to Determine Which One

The term SOA testing is one of those terms that idealists, and sometimes visionary IT professionals, frown on as it does not really pertain to anything that would specifically cause for testing as software or hardware. Being it is an architecture, rather than a system, the term (SOA) is now being used for all kinds of application interface testing without a graphical user interface (GUI), mainly aimed at testing “headless” components such as Web services, enterprise service buses and process models.

SOA testing is a very broad in scope as it looks at the entirety of the processes and how the users interface with systems. Because of this it can be difficult to find one tool that is the best fit for your particular system. Moreover, some of the tools are free, while others carry a nominal licensing fee, and others are simply very expensive. Locating the wrong testing tool can be a major hit to your bottom line. Therefore, it is important to think through a few determinations to find the right SOA testing tool for your needs.

Can the Tool Handle Handle Message Protocols Between Systems?

The messages that routinely travel between the service provider and the customer are exchanged in a way that is already predetermined. The tool that you use should be able to interpret these messages, or “parse” them and help the tester read from or pass values into individual data elements in the message. XML-based implementations are usually adopted for SOA deployments. However,  there may be other message formats like JSON or flat strings with delimiters as a communication device. So, the tool should ideally support the common message formats that exist or are likely to be adopted.

What Do You Expect As Far As Test Automation Support?

Any regular SOA testing tool will be required to be able to handle automated request generation, response validation, as well as database validation. While standalone service testing is the first step of SOA testing, testing the integrated set of a cluster of services or the orchestration implemented in an ESB or an aggregation service is the next. To automate these processes the tool must be able to model each service call as an individual test step. The results of these processes then automate into a desired response to take the test to the next step.

Within this context there are several automated responses within different functions. Do you need a broad testing tool for all? Or do you need to test security, performance, or web service? All of these considerations are determinations of the type of SOA testing tool you will need to work with.

The bottom line is that you quite possible may need to employ different tools in order to cover the entire aspect of your SOA. However, the beauty of testing is to continually find areas where your architecture can be integrated more into the system to be able to streamline the testing process.

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