Randy Rice has co-authored a book titled ‘Surviving the Top Ten Challenges of Software Testing’. You can find the summary of the top ten challenges here. The set of challenges have been researched and presented quite well, including a summary of the solution for each challenge.
From a software test lab/virtual lab automation standpoint (you can tell, I’m always thinking about this!), I wanted to highlight on a few of the challenges:
- Challenge #9 – Whose side are testers on?:: I realize that the authors are bringing up a “mindset” problem/challenge with this point. My thought is that with a centralized lab management solution, various stakeholders in software development can come together and collaborate to ship quality software. Like Randy points out, developers need to be responsible for unit and structural testing — wouldn’t it be nice if they could tap into a central virtual lab automation solution to access the same test OS base images/configs/library to run these tests? And share these results with other team members? The common lab playground can eliminate some of the “us vs. them” mentality.
- Challenge #8 – Testing without tools:: This one is my personal favorite. I’ve read, heard, experienced time and again that test environments are complex. Shouldn’t we be embracing virtualization and virtual lab automation solutions rapidly? Its not that they are prohibitively expensive. The return for the investment is quick and tangible. The idea is to make self-service IT and automation possible in the lab. And most of the virtual lab automation solutions have integrations with source control, build and test execution tools.
- Challenge #5 – Too much work, too little time:: Yes, thats why you need to leverage ‘automation’ in your lab.
- Challenge #4 – Overcoming Throwing Stuff over the Wall:: My point goes back to what I’ve mentioned about challenge #9 above. If developers have quick and easy (self serve) access to a pristine lab environment they can conduct unit and structural tests that much more easily and may resist throwing stuff over the wall. Quality moves upfront in the software cycle as a result.
Of course, for all these challenges, I’m viewing it from a perspective of how a virtual lab automation solution like VMLogix LabManager can help. I realize that tools are not a silver bullet (there are a lot of people issues involved) — but, they can dramatically help your situation. To that extent, you should have virtual lab automation on top of your mind. If you’re interested in learning more, go ahead and register on our site.
Finally, to the whole point of what got me started down this track — at places where you work — does your software test lab have a dedicated resource or champion? Is it a distributed outfit with every tester/dev managing their own test bed – or do you have a central lab that users can tap into (and a champion for that central resource)? Would love to hear your experiences around this.
Like Randy mentions, without a champion, no tool can make its way truly into the system. And without the right tools, productivity improvements are impossible.
– Srihari Palangala (firstname.lastname@example.org)