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SOA Testing | How to Do, Challenges & Best Practices

November 30, 2023Priyanka
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The Service Oriented Architecture(SOA) is the architectural practice used in modern web application development. It consists of multiple layers and each layer is loosely coupled. Its components can be developed and tested independently. 

As we know, testing should always align with development practices. Since modern web development uses SOA architecture, SOA testing also needs to be done with a similar passion.

What is SOA?

The SOA (Service Oriented Architecture) is a development architecture method in which business services are divided into multiple independent services based on their responsibilities.

SOA allows services to communicate with each other using the protocols, which eliminates the programming language barrier and platform barriers.

SOA Layers

As mentioned earlier, SOA emphasizes building loosely coupled system components. The SOA can be virtually differentiated into different layers. Let’s understand one by one.

SOA layers

Service Layer

The service layer consists of a set of services that are required to fulfil the business requirement. These services are independent, however can be interconnected. These services are derived from the business requirement. 

Process Layer

The process layer consists of processes and interfaces that make up a single functionality. This might contain UI, database-related functionalities, and anything that is required to make up a single functionality. This layer communicates with the service layer to provide the functionality.

Consumer Layer (Client Layer)

This layer is what you see as a whole web application, mainly consisting of visual elements or user interfaces. The user interaction starts from this layer and penetrates through multiple layers to get the desired response/result.

Examples of SOA

SOA is used by many web applications in the real world. The SOA architecture simply offers a service to the client, which will be authenticated via keys, tokens, or any other authentication mechanism

  • A payment processing company offers a service called payment gateway and it can be used by any website to process the payments. Once the payment is processed,  the client receives the response, based on the response order will be placed or cancelled.
  • An Analytics company offers a service called analytics service which helps to keep track of user searches, clicks, errors, request fulfillment, user behavior, etc.  and later it will be presented in the real-time analytics dashboard
  • An Image processing company offers optical character recognition services to clients. The client can simply send an image that has the text in it. A service processes the images, extracts the text, and converts the text in an image file to a simple text file.

What is SOA Testing?

SOA testing is a process of testing the application components, and layers built using the SOA architecture. SOA testing could be challenging as individual components are built together to create a single application. These SOA components can be built by the organization or third-party vendors.

How to do SOA Testing – explained with an example

As mentioned earlier SOA testing is most critical as it consists of many services interconnection. Generally, while executing the SOA testing you need to start with the service layer, then the process layer, and then the consumer layer. Consumer layer testing is also known as end-to-end testing as it touches all layers of the application. SOA testing can be done through manual execution or automated execution.

Manual SOA execution

In this manual SOA execution, the tester relies on one of the API testing tools such as Postman, swagger, or sometimes even a browser console. During the SOA test execution, the tester verifies the request, response, response body, etc. Unlike functional tests, writing manual test cases for service layer SOA testing may be confusing as test cases are mostly designed around the data. The black box testing can also be performed on the SOA application to validate the user-level use cases.

Example

The application login uses the login services, you can test the login services by providing the username, and password. Post the data to the login service, if he is a valid user the login service should return status code 200 with a specific response body. Also, it is important to test the negative scenarios with an invalid username/password, in that case, it should return non-2XX status codes.

SOA Automation Testing

Many modern automation testing tools support SOA testing. SOAPUI, Postman, and Testsigma are a few tools available in the market to automate SOA testing. As SOA mainly focuses on the services, as part of automation testing, the tester needs to ensure that all services are healthy, and yielding the expected output.

Having low code automation like Testsigma helps you to automate the APIs, End to end-to-end tests, etc. For example, if you have a login service which will accept username and password as JSON body you can automate using the Testsigma simple way as explained below



5 Steps to create SOA testing with Testsigma

Step 1: Log in to Testsigma

Step 2: Create a test case

Test case

Step 3: Enter the Testcase name and click on Write Test Manually

SOA demo test

Step 4: Click on Restful API

SOA demo test

Step 5: Enter the Details and Create the API Test

API requests

Once you create the test, these tests can be scheduled anywhere such as CI/CD or scheduled execution.

Why is SOA testing important?

The SOA architecture makes the development and release faster but when it comes to testing it becomes more challenging. As the system becomes more complex, the importance of the testing also increases.

  • SOA application consists of many independent services, each service needs to be tested to ensure service is working as expected, and failing any service may cause the application functionality to break.
  • Though SOA services are independent of each other, the data may be connected, for example, the output of one service may be input for others so the logic needs to be tested to ensure the accuracy.
  • Many times SOA application uses third-party services, though third-party services work as expected, the integration may cause issues, so the tester need to ensure that the integrated component is working fine.

SOA Testing Methods

Web services Testing

Webservices testing can be done to verify the data and business logic. It is the most reliable and faster. Postman, Testsigma, SwaggerUI, etc. can be used to perform the web services testing.

Integration Testing

The components usually include single or multiple functionalities, which will be later integrated to achieve the application feature. These components need to be tested to ensure the single or smaller functionality works as expected

Functionality Testing

Multiple webservices and databases are combined to achieve an application functionality. It can also be achieved through end-to-end testing. This can be performed via manual testing or automation testing.



Performance Testing

Performance testing is critical in the SOA, as there are many services communicated over the network. Even a single service can cause the whole application to perform unexpectedly. To understand, how the application behaves at normal load and peak load, performance testing is necessary.

Security Testing

SOA uses intercommunication of services, and service communication takes place over the internet which means it is more vulnerable if it’s not handled properly. As it is exposed over the internet there is more room for security testing. 

SOA Testing Use Cases

Let’s consider the order processing functionality of an e-commerce company. The functionality requires a minimum of the below services

  • Create order service
  • Cancel order service
  • Order Status service

Below are some of the use cases

  • The create order service should be up and running
  • Upon sending the valid data the service should create the order
  • Upon sending the order for a non-existent item, the order should not be processed.
  • The cancel order should be up and running
  • The user should be able to cancel the order with a valid order ID
  • Any time the user wanted to get the order details such as the order ID, item, or price, he should be able to get it using the  order status service.

End-testing scenarios

Consider you logged in as a valid user. The above operation that you did as an independent service, by looking the the API response body and status. The same operation you should be able to do through UI

  • The user should be able to create the order with the right quality
  • Once a user creates the order only then he should get the cancel order status.
  • The order details page should be displayed for both created or canceled order
  • The user should be able to view the order details page at any time if he has pending, in progress, completed, status, etc.

Strategy for SOA Testing

The SOA applications are complicated so you cannot directly jump into testing. Before test execution, you need to define the test strategy to get a reliable result. 

Understand the Application Architecture

Unlike legacy systems the SOA application consists of a lot of services and small components, you need to understand the responsibility of each service, understand the data flow, and ask questions as much as possible. Never assume anything. Once you completely understand the system and its workflow, proceed to test case design.

Derive the test cases based on the business requirement

Whether it is service layer testing, integration testing, or end-to-end testing you need to derive the test cases based on the business requirement. Never miss a single business use case. Consider both positive and negative test cases at all different layers

Follow bottom-up strategy for test execution

The SOA consists of different layers such as the consumer layer, processing layer, and service layer. While executing the test strategy start from the service layer, ensure individual components are working as expected then the process layer and later end-to-end testing. The end-to-end testing should cover all the use cases that which end user can perform.

Test both in-house and third-party APIs

The services may originate from different vendors, some services may be built in-house. However, as a tester, you need to ensure each and every service should yield the expected business result. As the application goes to higher levels these services are interconnected to achieve a single functionality. 

Perform the integration testing

Never forget to test the integration. In an SOA application, there is a high chance that the application may break when it is integrated. It may be due to network communication, data format, or version incompatibility. So have a strategy for integration testing.

Use Mocks and stubs whenever required

While performing the SOA testing you may not have all the services ready however there may be scenarios to carry out the testing to verify a specific functionality. Advanced testing tools provide the mock functionality that responds to the dummy data for testing. In this way, it will not pause the testing.

Benefits of SOA testing

Reliable

SOA testing is carried out at different levels. A single application is exposed to different types of testing. The SOA testing can be started at the development stage with small services. Since it goes through different levels of testing, SOA testing is more reliable.

Accurate

The Service layer testing verifies the individual services, also the data and user interface part can be tested independently. Since testing smaller components is more effective and less error-prone it produces an accurate and stable result. For example, if you intend to validate the data and business logic you can use the API testing, which will be completed in just a few minutes. Legacy end-to-end testing may take hours to complete all the scenarios.

Faster

In comparison with legacy testing, SOA testing can be done as soon as the components are built, the tester doesn’t need to wait until the integrated system is built, so it is comparatively faster. Furthermore, using an automation tool, SOA testing can reduce manual efforts. SOA testing can start in parallel with the development activity.

Easy to maintain

The SOA application maintains specific standards, if the test strategy is built considering those standards it will be easy to maintain. Most types of testing can be automated, so it is just like maintaining the development code. 

CI/CD integration

When SOA testing is automated and integrated with the CI/CD pipeline, the testing team need not be part of the release.  The pipeline automatically triggers the relevant test suites and produces the result. The BDD test cases are human-readable and anyone can understand. This helps to identify and fix the defects in the absence of testers

Platform Independent

Since most of the services are exposed over the network, the SOA testing doesn’t have any platform dependency. It can even be tested using a SaaS testing tool like Testsigma. 

SOA Testing Tools

Testsigma

Testsigma is a SaaS-based testing tool, that utilizes powerful AI technology to identify the element and analysis. Testsigma is popular as it supports low code automation, which means no prior technical knowledge is required to automate.  Testsigma supports most of the testing types required by SOA applications such as service layer testing, integration testing, and end-to-end testing



Postman

Postman can be used for service layer testing, it can be used for both automation testing and manual testing. It provides a simple interface, you can just send the request and verify the response. Furthermore, you can also automate using the javascript

SoapUI

SoapUI is the most widely used tool for service layer testing, it is owned by SmartBear. With some customization, SoapUI can be tuned for performance testing. It can be used for automation testing and integrated with CI/CD.

Playwright

Playwright was initially developed for end-to-end testing, with recent enhancements it supports integration testing and API testing. The Playwright tool is developed by Microsoft. It is an open-source tool, no need to pay any license cost. 

Challenges in SOA testing

  • Time-consuming: Unlike legacy testing, SOA testing has to be done at different layers. Importantly, the tester needs to understand the different components hence it is time-consuming.
  • Increased workload: A tester’s responsibility increases with SOA. Working with businesses and understanding the requirements is not enough. The tester needs to work with a developer to understand the service layer implementation.
  • Skill requirement: SOA testing demands different skill sets. Not everything is possible through manual testing. Tester needs to understand the programming language, DevOps concept, Architecture, and implementations. All these demands for deep technical skillsets.
  • Bug leakages: In SOA, multiple components are integrated together, even with a good test strategy, due to infrastructure, network, and intercommunications the leakage of bugs is more common. 
  • Infrastructure cost and maintenance: Since different services are built independently, the infrastructure needs to align to support the SOA strategy. In turn, it increases the cost of infrastructure and makes it complex.
  • Difficult to debug: The SOA architecture penetrates through different layers of the system. When functionality breaks, it is difficult to identify the root cause and fix them

Best Practices for SOA testing

  • Never jump into testing directly: Have a thorough strategy for SOA testing, and understand the system and subsystem before writing the test cases. 
  • Work closely with business and development: Never assume anything, gather the requirements from the business, understand the requirements, and work with developers to understand the implementation details.
  • Automate as much as you can: The SOA increases the tester’s workload, and the automation can help testers decrease them. The SOA architecture is the most automation-friendly, so consider automation. 
  • Consider different types of testing: The legacy system emphasizes on the end to end testing, however with SOA you can perform different types of testing such as API, integration, component, Unit testing, performance testing, etc. Additionally, this also helps to release the code to production confidently.
  • Define the scope and limitations: Before committing to testing and deliverables, ensure you define the scope and limitations. This helps stakeholders to have the right expectations.
  • Adopt a low code automation tool: A low code automation tool helps anyone to participate in automation. As SOA is the most complicated architecture, a tester needs to spend a lot of time in other activities apart from performing actual testing. A low code automation tool helps to get support from others. One low test automation tool that has proven to be useful in SOA test automation is Testsigma.

SOA is widely used by modern web applications. SOA makes the development and delivery faster. It is true that SOA architecture brings great benefits to the organization, but also comes with a lot of challenges to development and testing. Testing becomes more and more complex and demands additional skills. However considering the benefits, it is worth upskilling the resources. Furthermore having a low code automation tool like Testsigma can help to decrease the tester’s workload. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is SOA testing and API testing the same?

SOA is an architectural practice to build the modern web application. SOA consists of different layers, whereas the API is the part of SOA that mainly focuses on the service layer. Hence SOA and API testing are not the same.

 Is REST part of SOA?

The REST is an architectural style to design the API, and it is part of SOA

Differences between SOA Testing and normal application testing

SOA testing emphasizes different layers of testing which are the service layer, processing layer, and consumer layer. So, all these layers should be tested with different testing types to ensure the application stability and quality. A normal application test doesn’t contain as many layers as an SOA test, so testing different layers of the system may not be possible.

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