How Testing Helped Bringing Modeling to the Cloud

Posted by Ivan Perl in Guest Blog Posts

At Sauce Labs, we <3 open source projects! We are deeply rooted in the open source community and provide our free Open Sauce testing plan to qualified open source projects. From time to time, we ask project contributors and developers to share their stories on the Sauce Labs blog. This is the first of the Open Sauce stories.

System Dynamics is a very popular modeling paradigm widely used for understanding behavior of different kinds of complicated systems over time. This modeling approach works really well in management, healthcare, strategic planning, and other data-rich and complex areas.

Today, a number of technologies are rapidly moving to the cloud and providing end users nearly everything as a service. We now have DbaaS (Database as a Service), PaaS (Platform as a Service), and SaaS (Software as a Service). This trend is not passing researchers by, and we now also have MaaS – Modeling as a Service.

Why Move Modeling to the Cloud?

Mathematical modeling of any kind is a very specific area of computer science. In many cases, it consumes a great deal of resources and time. When a modeler is dealing with a complicated challenge and developing a model that accurately reflects his subject area, it may take significant time to execute. And during execution, the model may produce high volumes of execution results, hogging hardware resources.

Also, to deal with models locally, a modeler must install and configure software on a local machine. They will also need to apply different kinds of filters, comparisons and analytics, which makes local setup much more complicated and fragile.

How To Address These Challenges

To provide easy and free access to modelers, teachers and students working with System Dynamics to a complete modeling ecosystem, we decided to build an open sdCloud platform called sdCloud.io.

This project provides various model execution capabilities with a constantly growing list of features that are delivered to end users, without them needing to download and manage software and hardware resources. The project is growing--not only because it answers a specific need, but also because it includes more and more open source tools and libraries working with System Dynamics models and model execution results.

Ensuring A Quality Offering Through Testing

At the beginning, we offered only one feature. End users were able to upload a file with a model, execute it and download execution results back. Now the platform is transforming into a complete Web-based IDE with the ability to develop, edit and test models, as well as share models and execution results. Considering how quickly the platform grew in complexity and diversity of user interfaces available to end users, quality has always needed to be top priority.

Since the sdCloud platform is used worldwide, our users access it via different combinations of browsers and operating systems. The testing platform provided by Sauce Labs allows us to deliver a stable and high-quality solution to everyone regardless of the technology they are using. We are also able to gather anonymous usage statistics to identify which combinations of software are most popular among our users. This makes our testing more targeted and efficient.

We are also working with Sauce Labs on mobile testing. This capability allows us to not only ensure that rich browser experience with our system, but also keep track of how we are doing “on-the-go.” Besides web interface tests on mobile devices, we are going to deliver native iOS and Android applications. We are confident that Sauce Labs will be key to ensuring quality of the product that reaches our end users.

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