Velocity implies speed… and direction

February 22, 2016 //By David Hill, VP EMEA, Spirent
Laboratory testing is coming out of the woodwork and into the limelight, driven by growing realisation that today’s customer is king – and extremely flighty by kingly standards. It is nice to be valued, but it also increases pressure on processes that never were that simple but are rapidly growing more complex and suffering ever-greater time constraints. Can anything be done to integrate and automate test lab management and execution asks David Hill VP EMEA Spirent

In the dynamic, trendy environment of information technology and digital communications so much excitement initially focused on the brilliant inventive minds of the visionaries thinking up all this new stuff. Far less attention was drawn to the developers who had the relatively tedious task of getting it to work – let alone the testers who had to confirm that it really did work. Actually that was nice: you were left to get on with the job.

But success has its drawbacks, and these included raising customer expectations to dizzying heights. Also the communications revolution itself was making sure that, if anything failed to work one hundred per cent, everyone would know about it within minutes. According to Liz Herbert, Forrester Research VP and Principle Analyst: “We believe that this Age of the Customer is such a powerful shift that it is creating change – even in organisations that might not think of themselves as directly linked to the customer”

Testing could never again be an afterthought: it had to be integrated into the development process itself as part of a dynamic, on-going DevOps collaboration. This is the point where one would ideally take time to step back and re-think the whole business: time to re-structure and re-equip the test department, its procedures and management processes. But not only is the test department growing in size and complexity, there is also even greater time pressure as part of a larger dynamic and interactive DevOps team.

So many large organisations now have elaborately equipped test facilities and highly skilled teams scattered across the globe, together with a pressing need to make better use of these resources. We have indeed inherited a very wasteful culture: one where a single person taking a couple of hours a day to commute to and from work has to spend many thousands of pounds on a car that will be gathering dust for the remaining twenty two hours.

One solution is catching on: it is equivalent to the virtualization process that has taken datacentres by storm. Today’s high-speed connectivity is making it increasingly practical to consolidate all those separate test skills and equipment into one global test resource, and then subdivide the whole resource as needed into virtual test facilities. So, instead of having assets duplicated across every physical laboratory and lying idle for a lot of the time, these resources can be used far more efficiently by spinning them up when and only when some virtual test procedure across the globe needs them.

In the past this ability might have been seen as a great opportunity to downsize the test engineering facility and sell off redundant equipment but, in today’s pressured ‘Age of the Customer’ business environment, it is seen rather as an opportunity to get better return on investment by squeezing a lot more testing out of existing facilities.

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