Signs of a “Testpocalypse” loom on the horizon, Alberto Savoia (costumed as the Grim Reaper) told the audience. It was the keynote at the Google Test Automation Conference last October, where the theme was “Cloudy with a Chance of Tests.”

“Hiring and recruiting for testers is waaaay down. Testers are being commoditized, and there’s an exodus of test leadership,” he said. Finally, “More and more companies are shifting to ‘FrAgile’ post-agile ‘testing.’ ”

Indeed, outsourcing quality assurance is now the norm for 70% of respondents to the June 2011 World Quality Report conducted by Capgemini, HP and Sogeti. But cloud adoption is causing new demand for testing and QA, according to the survey.

“The day of the performance tester is going to come back,” said Kelly Emo, director of application product marketing for HP Software. “When you think about what cloud brings to the equation of testing, there are a couple of levels. For teams developing apps where part or all of it will be running in the cloud, that’s a whole new level of concerns across all three aspects of testing: functional, performance and security. The other level is, how can you harness the cloud to make you more effective as a tester?”

Savoia isn’t really a pessimist about testing, but he does see it as a rapidly changing field. Even the name “tester” is suspect, he said, and should be replaced by something new to reinvigorate awareness of the value of people who break software for a living.

According to Emo, “I think that what’s happening is that people are categorizing too much. More testers are becoming developers, and developers are becoming testers. Testers today have to know the fundamental architecture, or whether there are pieces running on iOS or Android hitting their app in the cloud. And to be more responsive to business, developers need to focus on regression testing, unit testing and basic functional testing so that testers can focus on high-value fringe cases, integration or end-to-end, and exploratory testing.”

The cloud over testing
In keeping with its stepchild relationship to application development, testing was not on thought-leader lips when cloud hype thundered in a few years ago. Yet it’s now clear that testing may in fact be one of the best cases for cloud adoption, exceeding that for deployment.

“This is an interesting time to be in cloud computing,” said Brian White, VP of products for Skytap, a cloud automation startup founded more than four yeas ago in Seattle.