aqua and Polarion both come with Cloud and On-Premise offerings. The latter is mandatory for heavily regulated industries that deal with sensitive data as well as government organisations. On-Premise offerings can generally be negotiated into the level of vendor maintenance & support that works best for your company.
ALM usually pay much more attention to user management than the average test management solution. After all, you have many more people using the software and they come from several teams and even departments. Some people are working on the project part-time, so you may want to limit their input. It’s even more important when you have crowd testers.
Polarion and aqua deliver to help you tackle all these scenarios. They come with default roles, but you can create new roles and even assign individual permissions.
Polarion is a pretty close match for aqua’s test management functionality. It has proper test management functionality with test cases that can be parametrised, grouped into test scenarios, executed, and edited in bulk when needed. The only notable omissions relative to aqua are nested test cases (or a similar time-efficient way to reuse test cases) and shared views of the workspace.
Integrations & Automated Testing
Polarion goes wide but not necessarily deep with how they handle integrations. It has very few native integrations, driving customers to establish connections themselves via APIs. There is also an extensions marketplace, but the extensions there are neither maintained nor endorsed by Polarion.
aqua has a much bigger suite of native integrations. Unlike Polarion’s, it focuses on test automation rather than exchanging data with other management tools. You too can use REST API to connect any other solution.
I know there is some bias at play, but aqua’s offering is more compelling. The native integrations cover virtually all major test automation tools, while Polarion requires custom integration(s) or adopting xUnit framework for automated QA.
Best QA integrations suite in the market
QA dashboards are insightful for both testers and their colleagues. The main requirements here are utilising any data in the workspace and supporting custom data. Both aqua and Polarion do that.
aqua, however, also offers KPI Alerts. You can set up values that certain metrics should not go above or under (e.g. over 2 Critical bugs in Safari). If that happens, the dashboard widget changes the pattern so you see the anomaly at a glance. Conservative KPI Alerts is how you prevent issues from piling up.
Polarion and aqua both have some of the most advanced reports in the field. They support external text and imagery, transform and enhance workspace data for any need, and can easily be exported or shared elsewhere.
aqua and Polarion both handle the entire application’s lifecycle, from gathering requirements and fulfilling them to testing and defect management.
Pricing and Scaling
Polarion ALM does not disclose their pricing. The general market rate for an Enterprise-focused tool like that would be several thousand euros per 12-month license per user. A permanent license could very well be pushing €10,000, especially when you factor in maintenance and support costs.
What we can compare here is pricing of aqua and Polarion X, which seems to be a modernised reskin of Polarion ALM. The Base plan starts at $36/month (before VAT), but this tier is largely here to lower the perceived entry cost. Going over 20 users mandates switch to Pro at $98/month, and 100+ users is $135/month (before VAT).
Even teams with under 20 users may ultimately have to splurge cash for Polarion X Pro. The Base plan is limited to 500 documents and 25,000 work items, and reaching that is just a matter of time for any ongoing project. All plans are also billed annually, which is a bit counterintuitive for a truly small-scale endeavour.
By contrast, aqua costs €39/month per user no matter the size of your team. There is also room to add high-volume, Enterprise-grade features at a reasonable extra fee. One paid aqua license also gives you unlimited free Basic licenses, which can be used not just for browsing but for test runs as well.
*Polarion pricing doesn’t include VAT
Polarion and aqua are evenly matched when it comes to their feature suite. The only major distinction is aqua’s approach to automation with much more native integrations. You will likely not need to build any integrations yourself via API, and that’s just not the case for Polarion. There’s generally more complexity and at times redundancy when it comes to setting up Polarion, onboarding employees, and maintaining the workspace.
What makes a huge difference is cost, where Polarion quickly ramps up to at least triple the aqua price. Make no mistake: any company with 20+ people will be paying extra, and smaller established teams will eventually bump against other limits as well. This becomes poor value real quick.
On the other hand, aqua has the same price of €39/month. You can scale up and down when needed without artificial limits with monthly billing. The free Basic licenses also spare you the expense of paying for seldom users that do not create new test cases or requirements (they can still report bugs). aqua may already be a better deal for companies below 20 users, and it certainly is above that.
Enterprise-grade ALM at a sensible price