Sauce Labs embraces diversity

 After raising US$70million, co-founder at Sauce Labs, Steve Hazel, is thriving to expand his business, with the total investment being bought to US$101million through previous funding rounds. DevOps Online and Software Testing News reporter Leah Alger spoke exclusively with Hazel to find out about Sauce Labs funding strategy, what his biggest lessons have been in the industry and how he believes the industry will continue to revolutionise.

“Our strategy with the money is to continue to grow the business. Last December, we acquired a European mobile testing company (TestObject), which has been extremely successful. We now have products and real device mobile testing, which we are going to continue improving,” said Hazel.

“One of the main things that was different this time round was there were a handful of significant investors (Centerview Capital Technology, ICP and Adams Street Partners) who helped funding, making it difficult to figure out how to bring their work together,” he added.

In total the cloud-hosted platform company has over 800 combinations of OSs and browsers: 160 emulators and simulators, more than 1,000 iOs and Android devices on its public clouds in Germany and the United States alone, and provides a broad test infrastructure for manual and automated testing of desktop and mobile applications, using Appium, Selenium and JavaScript.

Hazel indicated: “Sauce Labs stands out [relative] to other cloud-hosted platforms because they provide access to more resources than [anyone] else, and have been doing so for longer than other competitors.

‘Reliability is key’

“The diversity of platforms is most useful for our customers – customers always come to us for all platforms and full coverage – it is critical to them.”

Sauce Labs insists that reliability is key, which is why it integrates a range of diverse products, and offers automation testing for Continuous Delivery (CD) and Continuous Integration (CI), implementing both practices into workflows. The firm is trusted by customers across a range of industries, including: Yahoo!, Twitter, Etsy, IHG, Bank of America,, Liberty Mutual, Bank of America and Intuit.

“What I find most rewarding is seeing our customers benefit from what we have helped build – especially when they flourish,” revealed Hazel.

Over the years, the software testing market has changed tremendously through applications and products. According to HCL, Gartner predicts that the worldwide discrete software testing market spending will increase by 14% compound annual growth rate (CAGR), with product testing growing at the rate of 9.1% and application testing at 15.3%.

Hazel said: “The software testing market has really matured within five years. We did struggle a bit at first, but within years Sauce Labs ‘swept through’ broader enterprises, which helped massively.

‘Tester roles can change significantly in response to agile’

“When Sauce Labs was developed in 2008 I firstly looked at the current trend, and then most cutting edge software companies, but really I should have looked at what was happening within the industry as a whole.

“I came into a market where most automation testing was more of a way to speed up and make manual processes more sufficient, to see how it works, and then spend a couple of months testing and releasing – in that environment, if you run your automation testing and 80% of tests pass and 20% fail, you have just saved a ton of time – unfortunately it doesn’t always work like that.”

Software testing is now impacted by agile and DevOps. According to a State of the Software Testing Profession report by TechWell, transitioning to agile was the top cause for changing in testing tasks: 91% of respondents said the role of testers must be transformed to meet the needs of today’s system development life cycle (SDLC), 70% reported that testers roles can change significantly in response to agile, and 71% think that tests must become more technical to meet the demands of agile, mobile and embedded development.

“There has been a change in how people do software testing because of agile and DevOps. With agile and DevOps you’re not developing for six months then testing and releasing, you are testing for a couple of weeks, and then getting feedback when something is found broken – despite this, you still need to test your features. It can be a disaster because then you have more manual testing to do and need to fix it as quick as possible,” said Hazel.

The Software Specialists noted that more companies such as Microsoft have started to embrace the “open source philosophy”, and that it will become a “de facto standard” throughout industries, leading to an “emphasis not on the software itself but in expertise and continued support.”

‘Starting a company is like chewing glass and staring into the event’

Hazel added: “In the next five years I think there is going to be continuous adopters finding success by developing new software development strategies, which I am going to witness, and then compete with.

“Generally, I think there is a trend with software technology in finding ways to better isolate code and either run or test it in production – a little bit of coding could make new things exercisable.”

Hazel admitted: “My whole experience has been a wild and exciting ride. Running and setting up the company was hard – starting a company is like chewing glass and staring into the event.

“If you’re coming into the testing industry for the first time, it depends on the role, but I think that [some of] the critical things in testing to be aware of [are the changes] in how testing works in products, understanding the history and testers must find out where it was and where it is now, because shift [left] holds importance.”

The Software Testing Class revealed that the software development life cycle is dependant on “planning an entire project” – all requirements must be discussed, captured and requirements are then finalised and entire planning is prepared. The system is then designed, and then coding starts.

“Really understanding new models is important in the software development process. You should fully digest the topic and sincerely grok the way things work,” said Hazel. “Make sure you have good operating tools – at first you may think its great, but then someone may change how it works, and your tests could break, making it a long process.”

Hazel also noted that he finds newer things “exciting” and “really likes the ability we have now to do mobile testing on real devices, on a public and private cloud approach.”

Written by Leah Alger