SOASTA Raises $6.4M to Test in the Cloud

Software testing provider SOASTA has closed a $6.4 million Series B financing from Formative Ventures, Canaan Partners and The Entrepreneur’s Fund, bringing the total amount of money it’s raised to $10 million. The three-year-old, 20-person startup based in Mountain View, Calif., hopes its cloud-based approach will shake up the relatively mature testing market.

SOASTA CEO Tom Lounibos says he realized the need for new testing methods while running SaaS provider Dorado. “QA went from 3 to 16 testers because we needed to do so much scripting.” AJAX, SOAP and RESTful APIs had become increasingly difficult to test with open-source tools (just try testing Google Maps), while licensed software like Loadrunner costs too much, he said.

Generating traffic on demand is nothing new: Companies like Gomez and Keynote Systems have offered web stress-testing services for years. But SOASTA wants to offer an entire suite of tools for scripting tests, instrumenting servers, and analyzing problems.

Testing is inherently elastic. One minute, systems are idle; the next, they’re hammering a new application with thousands of transactions a second. “Software is only part of the cost,” said Lounibos. “You need hardware, a development environment, deployment, collection and analysis.” So Lounibos teamed up with OLAP veteran Ken Gardner (now SOASTA’s Executive Chairman) to create an entire test platform in the cloud, including device monitoring and post-test reporting.

The thing about the cloud is that it scales. SOASTA just finished a 100,000-user test for QTRAX using EC2 and is preparing for a million-user test soon. While tests currently have to be scheduled beforehand, the company plans to let developers schedule their own tests, Lounibos said. So we have to ask: Isn’t it dangerous to give testers the keys to what is, effectively, a huge denial-of-service system? And can a huge test eat up the resources of a cloud, making other cloud users suffer?

“We don’t want to overwhelm the cloud, or create the next generation of spam,” said Lounibos.

Still, the potential for mischief is huge, and with more and more “open clouds” emerging, regulation needs to go beyond just terms of service. Companies that run on-demand tools have an obligation to see that those tools aren’t abused. As Lounibos puts it, “It’s imperative for companies like ours to work together not to crash this thing.”