The Internet of Things (IoT) technology has been around for some time now. What started strictly as an industrial prospect has now culminated in more personalized and commercial usage.
A new study by the consumer technology association (CTA) published by Mediapost reveals that 69% of U.S. households (almost 83 million homes) own at least one smart home device. That’s not all! Out of these, a staggering 18% (22 million homes) own more than one smart home products.
With this growing pace of IoT adoption and an increase in the sales of smart IoT devices, developers are constantly under the radar to improve the quality of their IoT offerings.
Before delving deeper, let us first talk about IoT technology and why it is taking the world by storm.
For the uninitiated, IoT is the connection of smart devices and applications that collect and exchange data. IoT allows users to control devices remotely over the internet or other connected networks.
The biggest and most prevalent concerns with these IoT devices and applications are security, functionality and performance issues.
This is where IoT testing comes in. The role of IoT testing is significant in improving the quality of IoT apps and ensuring reliable, user-friendly solutions. However, IoT testing is plagued by various challenges that need to be tackled to implement the IoT solutions successfully.
This article shall discuss some of these challenges and possible workarounds.
The top 7 challenges of IoT testing
IoT testing can be quite an effort for testers because of the multiple testing approaches involved. These can include usability, connectivity, compatibility, performance and security validations.
The main challenges in IoT testing include:
1. Multiple cloud IoT platforms
There is no dearth of cloud providers in the current technology landscape. Some of the commonly used cloud IoT platforms that aid in connecting the different components of the IoT value chain include Azure IoT, IBM Watson, AWS, etc.
To ensure the effective usability of the IoT devices or applications, they must be tested across all these cloud IoT platforms. The primary challenge here is to create test scenarios for these cloud IoT environments.
Furthermore, in a cloud IoT environment, data is generated in both structured and unstructured formats. This data is generated at a higher velocity, veracity and variety, which puts a lot of pressure on testers to simulate this kind of complex test environment.
2. Data Security Threats
Cyber security testing of IoT devices is a given for users to have a safe and secure experience with the IoT application. There are three main data security concerns:
IoT devices generate a large amount of data. But when performing IoT testing, this massive volume of user data is often vulnerable to data leaks or unauthorized access. To guarantee a secure system, such loopholes must be found and addressed swiftly.
The challenge here is to test the data interfaces and constantly update the IoT app/devices. In addition, it is crucial to test authentication data such as passwords and login credentials frequently to ensure there are no security breaches and prevent potential attacks on the system.
Implementing robust and impregnable layered security, with multiple security layers protecting the system, can be challenging for inexperienced QA teams.
3. Multiple Data and communication protocols
Various communication protocols and APIs facilitate the communication between IoT devices, servers and associated controllers. Some of them include the Constrained Application Protocol (CoAP), Message Queuing Telemetry Transport (MQTT) and the Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol (XMPP).
Now, each data communication protocol has its advantages and disadvantages. Without getting into the specific technical issues, the primary challenge here is that the IoT testing tools must be fairly equipped to support these protocols and APIS. They must create a customized test design according to which API and protocol are currently in use.
4. Standardization issues
With the increased adoption of IoT and connected devices, and new devices being introduced to the IoT scene every day, testers are constantly under the heat to validate these systems. The different devices may have conflicting and competing standards, and testing is performed based on the intended use of the system.
In short, there is a lack of standard testing procedures.
This lack of uniform standardization of IoT systems with respect to platforms, connectivity, standard business models and applications is an ever-present bone in the throat of IoT testing professionals.
However, by following these current trends in software testing, testers can make better test plans for IoT testing.
5. Network issues
The backbone for the successful functioning of an IoT infrastructure is a seamless network over which IoT apps communicate and perform. In the absence of a reliable network or poor network configuration, connected devices may face performance and communication hindrances.
Thus, making it essential to test devices under different network conditions such as an overburdened Wi-Fi connection, unreliable network hardware and slow/inconsistent internet connections.
But again, how practical can it be to create or simulate a test environment with various network discrepancies? Again, this is a challenge that many Quality Engineering Services face.
However, there is a solution. Network virtualization is one way to emulate different network conditions and responses programmatically.
6. Hardware-software dependencies
The IoT architecture is dependent on the successful marriage of reliable hardware and well-performing software. It is a no-brainer that even when you have truly defect-free software, the hardware aspects, such as sensors, devices, communication gateways, etc., enable the successful implementation of IoT.
Therefore, testing a generic system without the hardware-software dependency is any day easier than testing a complex IoT application.
Implementing a collaborative work culture, where hardware-software and QA teams would work in unison to identify loopholes in the entire system can help make these devices function flawlessly.
By now, we have established that IoT testing is an uphill task. There are several other challenges like difficulty in simulating real-time scenarios. In addition, the various combinations of devices, networks, hardware, data, interfaces, protocols, etc., can make for tiresome testing efforts.
Automation is applicable only to an extent, with IoT testing demanding customized test plans suitable for the app in question. In addition, the increased load that an IoT system observes in peak usage scenarios and quick-moving data can add to the trouble.
The sheer variety of IoT devices and applications puts a burden on testing teams to devise new test cases and test scenarios, drawing out comprehensive test strategies to ensure defect-free applications.
The way forward:
IoT testing can be a challenging prospect for organizations, both large and small. It combines technology, swiftly developed software and newly created hardware. Critical bugs concerning reliability, safety, and performance are often overlooked in that process.
Therefore, the presence and aid of an IoT testing provider are instrumental to the success of your IoT testing endeavors. At Qualitest, we offer comprehensive IoT Testing Services to ensure that your product will work flawlessly, safely, and meet necessary standards.
Let us help you cut down your testing spends and testing time by a large margin. Get in touch for an expert consultation on our wide array of IoT-related quality engineering services.