With $15M, Sauce Labs wants to make software testing faster

In an agile world where developers are expected to churn out new application features on what can often times be a weekly basis, it can be really hard for engineers to create testing environments on the fly. Sauce Labs, a cloud-based testing startup, thinks it has a solution and it now has $15 million from a Series D funding round that the company plans to use to build out its development team and infrastructure, it said on Thursday.

Agile development not only impacts the lives of coders who need to be quicker than ever, but it also “dramatically changed the need for tooling over the years,” explained Steve Hazel, Sauce Labs’ chief product officer and co-founder. With the rise of open-source testing tools, including the popular Selenium, software testers now have new options to choose from that help them quickly test their projects when they are first developed.

However, the open-source testing tools have a problem when it comes to scale. When a development project becomes more widely used, it then has to be tested multiple times across multiple browsers and devices, which results in a lot of testing infrastructure in the form of virtual machines.

Sauce Labs’ testing tool is essentially a scale-out testing tool for Selenium and the company’s own open-source Appium mobile testing tool that’s designed to manage the testing infrastructure for big companies that need multiple testing environments spun up fast.

Hazel said that 80 to 90 percent of Sauce Labs’ customers use the continuous-integration tool Jenkins for the development of their products. When it comes time for the engineering teams to do their testing, Sauce Labs’ tool is integrated into Jenkins and can immediately load up the necessary virtual machines that contain the testing environments.

The virtual machines are spun up in Sauce Labs’ own data centers, which Hazel said provides for a more cost-effective testing method than if someone were to spin up testing environments on their own in Amazon or another cloud service.

For example, Sauce Labs can spin up 50 virtual machines (it charges clients by the VM) to run 50 tests and then take them down for an hour as the development team works on a new build. The testing team can then ping Sauce Labs to spin up the VMs again for another round of testing and then spin them down when they want. The whole thing is “bursty,” and if you were to try to do testing like that in Amazon and wanted fast access to VMs, you’d have to to keep a VM running the whole time without shutting it down because it takes longer for Amazon to spin up the VM with the necessary testing environment, Hazel said.

“We have a pool of VMs that are ready to go, that are ready to go at all times,” he said.?

The startup counts customers including [company]Salesforce[/company], [company]Yahoo[/company], [company]Bank of America[/company] and [company]Twitter[/company] and now has a total of $36 million in funding, according to Jim Cerna, CEO of Sauce Labs. Toba Capital led the new funding round.

Cloud testing market heats up

IBM’s snapping up Green Hat and CA’s acquisition of ITKO indicate that the market for cloud-based testing services is hot. And since software testing represents more than 50 percent of overall development costs, developers would do well to keep an eye on this quickly growing market.