Lanowitz, who will be speaking at the STAR East Conference this week, calls Microsoft’s Visual Studio 2010 Test Professional tools “the best testing product no one has ever heard of.

“They use virtualization well,” she said, pointing out that Microsoft has the first automated virtual lab management capability built into an ALM tool. “People are still building physical test labs. Microsoft has come out with tooling to free testers up from the manual stuff,” which makes them more efficient.

This culture shift in testing might help testers shed the image of being impediments to software releases instead of facilitators of quality software releases. “How do we work with the development team in this brave new world?” Sterling asked. “The role of testers in the cloud becomes a huge value-add. Testers triage the feedback data, and turn around to tell developers, ‘Your customers want features 5, 10 and 43.’

“All of a sudden,” he said, “your success in getting your next check is pinned on testers getting you the feedback data to deliver what those customers want.”

Or, as Lanowitz simply put it: “It’s a pretty exciting time in testing.”

David Rubinstein is editor-in-chief of SD Times.