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Test your projects in the cloud

When you create anything new, there’s always an element of risk. Are you forgetting anything important? Will everything work as intended? Sometimes there’s no way to know for certain. This is especially true for web development.

Server testing and staging environments on a cloud platform

Whether you’re launching a new project or updating an existing application, the potential for unintended consequences is constantly lurking. It could be down to a single line of code, or a more complex issue, but if the end-result is a non-functional website and lost revenue, the smallest oversight can have a disastrous impact.

Fortunately, we have the technology to mitigate this risk. Through robust testing, it’s possible to accurately simulate how web services will perform and react, without putting anything in the firing-line of a live environment. And with a next-generation cloud hosting platform like CloudNX, putting your projects through their paces is easier and more cost-effective than ever.

Cloning servers for worry-free testing

One of the simplest ways of testing online services is to create a copy of an existing server, make changes, and see what happens. Nothing on the original server is put at risk, but you get to see how the proposed changes will play out. On a virtualised platform like CloudNX, this can be achieved very easily by cloning virtual machines to provide a testbed for the latest updates.

On CloudNX, a clone takes an existing server and duplicates its setup exactly, but can then be changed independently. This makes cloned VMs perfect for creating a staging environment, mimicking the live environment as closely as possible while remaining inaccessible for anyone without the right permissions.

Cloned servers can be used for any type of test, whether it’s a proof-of-concept project for a new Kubernetes cluster or a simple security patch. Play around with updates and configurations on your cloned VMs, without worrying about disruptions to your live services. If the dress rehearsal doesn’t go to plan, you’ve always got the original VMs to fall back on.

Cloud technology: ideal for load testing

A more advanced form of testing involves measuring the performance of test servers as if they were in a live environment. Load testing uses software running on one server or cluster to send large numbers of HTTP requests to the web server on the machine or cluster being tested. This can be used to simulate the amount of requests a project is expected to receive, and to judge its performance under stress.

Load testing can help establish whether an application has the appropriate level of resources (CPU, RAM and storage) and whether additional servers are required to manage traffic. By testing your servers, you can find out how fast they respond to user requests under load (latency), a key consideration when it comes to performance, loading times and user experience.

If an application isn’t running as smoothly as it should, it’s not always easy to single out the source of the problem. By load testing, you can identify performance bottlenecks and particularly resource-intensive processes. This makes it far easier to fine-tune your project for maximum efficiency.

Some of the best free load testing tools include Apache Bench, Apache JMeter, Locust and Siege.

CloudNX is perfect for load testing, with the ability to quickly spin up multiple VMs, either by cloning an existing configuration or creating a distinct setup for each machine. Deploy your own network of servers to carry out load testing, while still maintaining your live online presence, all on a single cloud platform.

Create a test environment with minimal costs

An often overlooked aspect of testing is cost. How much are you willing to spend on a test server that’s only required to run for a few hours? On a traditional physical server, you need to pay for a full set of resources, whether they’re required at all times or not. For brief, low-intensity test projects, the cost of a whole server can be hard to justify.

On a highly scalable, pay-as-you-use platform like CloudNX, this ceases to be a problem. There are no upfront costs or contracts, and you only pay for the resources you configure yourself. This means you can spin up a virtual machine to run as a test server for a few hours a week, and only pay for the required resources per minute.

And of course, if you do decide to run more services on CloudNX, it’s simple to quickly scale up your infrastructure to multiple high-performance VMs running the Linux or Windows operating systems of your choice. All this comes with the reliability and security of UK data centres, plus expert UK-based technical support available 24/7.

Neal Thoms's picture

Neal Thoms

Author As a content creator for Fasthosts, Neal’s main focus is cloud technology and how it’s transforming everything we do online. He’s worked in the web hosting industry for over five years.