Test Strategies for SOA (Service Oriented Architecture) applications
By Sourojit Das, Community Contributor - September 20, 2022
Modern software applications scarcely work in a standalone capability. They must be able to securely integrate distributed data sources and engage with different ecosystems. Managing user expectations in such a scenario becomes a major challenge for modern enterprise software solution providers.
In cases like these, SOA has emerged as one of the leading architectural design patterns that can help overcome such a problem. And though some people use terms SOA and Web services interchangeably, they are not the same. Most SOA implementations are built using web services, but there can be non-SOA web services as well.
What is Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA)?
Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) is a software design paradigm which allows software components to provide services to other software components through a communication protocol over a network. With the primary advantage of being vendor and technology-independent, SOA allows for seamless communication or even the coordination of activities over a distributed system.
This flexibility has allowed its use in many mobile apps and games. Since it is being able to be a service provider and consumer at the same time. SOA is used even in the military for deploying situational awareness systems.
While microservice architecture has taken the computing world by storm, SOA applications have still retained their core niche. This makes SOA the second most popular approach to system design.
The main characteristics of SOA systems may vary from organisation to organisation, but the Six core tents that define any capable SOA system are:
- Business value
- Strategic goals
- Intrinsic interoperability
- Shared services
- Evolutionary refinement
How Service-Oriented Architecture works?
There are three main roles performed by the building blocks of any SOA application, viz. Service provider, service broker, and service requester/consumer.
The Service provider works together with a service registry to investigate the security, availability, modifications required, etc for the services being provided. They also determine service categories and trading agreements that are necessary.
Service brokers provide information about a service to those requesting it.
And the service requester locates information in the service broker registry and attaches them to the service provider. They may have the capability to access multiple services based on their configuration.
Multiple technologies can be used to implement SOA Architecture, depending on the business needs and the end goal in sight. The central design paradigm focuses on some form of web services that allow the core components to be accessible to each other over standard internet protocols.
One of the most popular such instances is SOAP, which is short for Simple Object Access Protocol. It has gained popularity since 2003 and has become the go-to standard for creating SOA applications.
Other options like Jini, COBRA, and REST are also being used. Messaging techniques like ActiveMQ, Apache Thrift, and SORCER are also being implemented to achieve technology independence.
SOA applications are often composed of services in a hierarchy, as seen below:
The topmost layer contains several integration services that control a flow of activities, for example, processing insurance coverage requests for a vendor. These integration services, in turn, call on business services.
The second layer of services completes a low-level business task. For example, if an integration service wants to verify the details of an insured customer for a certain premium. Each business service will return a computed value that can help decide whether to issue the policy.
The botton layer has data access services that handle the CRUD operation to and from the data storage. These are usually accessed to assign values to the logic for computation.
Benefits of SOA Architecture for applications
There are numerous benefits of using the SOA paradigm for designing applications.
- Using SOA leads to the creation of reusable code units. This decreases both the time spent on the development process and eliminates the need to start from scratch whenever you create a new service.
- The use of a standard communication protocol allows the different systems and functions to work independently of each other and also navigate firewalls. The latter feature allows companies to share vital services without the need to overhaul the existing security systems.
- It allows for scalability as it has reduced client-service interaction. This prevents the overheads due to dependencies and allows the software to be greatly scalable.
- This, in turn, reduces costs as minimal analysis, rework, and overheads are required to develop custom applications.
What is SOA Testing, and Why is it important
SOA testing forms an important aspect of the lifecycle management of the service in question and helps the organization address service quality aspects across different implementations.
SOA testing focuses on verifying the web services that act as the interface between Client-Server interactions. This can be somewhat complex as SOA applications have a lot of moving parts that can be quite challenging to test. There need to be service validations made across the entire multi-layered architecture.
SOA testing often involves testing legacy applications, custom components, and even third-party services across these layers.
A simple example can be a user testing a stock market application. They provide stock details to the local system. This connects to a service that fetches the required details and sends them back to the user.
The SOA web services communicate with the necessary backend data store as well to process this request and generate an appropriate response.
While most people consider SOA testing to be simply a form of web service testing, it actually deals with the overall architecture and thus is much broader in scope.
Most businesses today depend on their IT infrastructure for day-to-day operations, and SOA applications constitute the primary backbone for these enterprise systems. The smooth functioning of these systems is vital as any single error can destabilize the entire network and result in loss of money as well as goodwill.
Test Strategies for SOA Architecture applications
SOA testing should not be solely focussed on testing a particular layer or web service protocol. And testing the overall architecture has some common points with the test strategy followed for any general testing process, viz.
- Requirement Review
- Test Planning
- Test Design
- Environment Setup
- Execution of test cases, and
- Reporting of test results
But there, the similarities end.
Read More: How to set up QA processes from scratch
Differences between SOA Testing and normal application testing
- For non-SOA applications, testers are highly dependent on the application GUIs. However, in SOA testing, most components have exposure to programmatic interfaces like APIs and WSDLs.
- Non-SOA applications are also largely tested on their functional merits and can be done even by non-technical testers. However, in SOA testing, the components are meant for highly technical people like solution architects, CIOs, etc. Thus the testers need to be very familiar with both the development aspects of the applications as well as the business domain they serve.
- SOA testing requirements include both end consumers and service providers. Since the SOA platform only provides the section relevant to the service providers, the testers need to implement SOA client apps to perform that aspect of testing. In such cases, the testers have to act as pseudo-developers themselves.
- With increasingly rapid test cycles, it is important for CUI-based apps to leverage automation testing on the GUI. However, for SOA solutions, specific tools need to be used for automation testing via programmed interfaces.
SOA Testing process is centered around Three layers in the architecture:
- Service consumers
- Process Layers
- Service layers
The testing of these levels can be formulated into Four stages (Tiers) as described below:
This tier has the following testing processes involved:
Service Level Testing
The individual services need to be tested on a Request-and-Response method. This is absolutely mandatory and is the primary step before proceeding to other processes.
- Functional testing is conducted on the services based on their business requirements. This checks whether the response is appropriate to the business needs.
- The business requirements are converted to test cases, and then request statements are formulated. These requests are processed to see if the desired responses are obtained.
- Checks are also done for invalid data, with proper error codes formulated for negative scenarios.
Read More: Debunking Myths about Functional Testing
Security is a key aspect of any web service-based testing process. The authentication gateways, payment portals, etc., should be encrypted for data parsing. Moreover, CSRF and SQL injection-based vulnerabilities should be tested for XMLs.
SOA services are hosted in a manner that many applications can utilize these services at the same time. This phase checks for:
- Scalability of the services
- Service behaviour under peak load
- Response times across the services.
This tier consists of Process Testing
- This tests the various business processes involved in the application.
- This deals with the integration of web services and the end-user applications as per the business requirements
- Simulators are extensively used to generate sample input data and perform output validation.
- The data flow from different layers is verified to check for ideal functioning post-integration.
This phase requires End to End testing.
- The business requirements are tested both in a functional as well as non-functional capacity.
- The application’s UI is verified.
- The end-to-end data flow is validated
- All the relevant services are integrated with each other, and their functionality post-integration is checked.
This phase deals with Regression Testing.
- The system stability over incremental build releases is validated in this phase.
- It is ideal to use a variety of automation testing tools for Regression testing to reduce release times.
Challenges while implementing SOA Testing Strategies
Since SOA applications can rapidly increase in size and complexity very quickly, it can become a real challenge to verify all the moving parts.
Some major challenges can be:
- The difficulty in simulating test environments to conduct testing
- The components being tested can be from different vendors, which can lead to further complexities.
- The more the number of components and services being integrated, the more complex the testing.
- Reproducing issues can become tricky, given the nature of the complex models.
SOA Testing Tools
- SOAPUI: It is an open-source tool that is used for web services testing. It can perform both functional as well as performance tests and even some security testing.
- Apache JMeter: It is another open-source tool that helps analyze and measure the performance of REST/SOAP invocations. This helps automate user stories and allows the tester to run the same test with different users and even parameterization.
An effective SOA test strategy must incorporate all the aspects of the SOA Architecture stack. Once specific tools like SOAPUI or Apache JMeter have been used, it is important to conduct E2E testing for the application as a whole.
The best option in these cases is for a cloud-based testing service that provides real device, browsers, and operating systems. BrowserStack offers 3000+ real browsers and devices for manual (BrowserStack Live) and automated testing (BrowserStack Automate).