End Of Life Questions: Automation and Transition Plans

By Michael Lynge On November 5, 2009
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An end-of-life (EOL) announcement on a product that is an integral part of your test strategy is disruptive to schedules, and possibly revenue, as gap analysis is done and transition plans are formed. On the other hand, it forces you to evaluate your lab infrastructure against available solutions, an important exercise that is often pushed to the back burner in the urgency of day-to-day operations and task oversubscription. 


In the test and measurement world, investment in test automation is one of the most significant contributors to resistance to change, and also one of the most significant enablers for cost-savings and faster time-to-market. In the last few years, innovations in automation have expanded the industry beyond test case automation to offer dramatic schedule and productivity gains through automating test cycles, the test environment and the physical infrastructure.

A product that is in EOL may not offer this level of automation support, and if not, then it likely won’t in the future. Eventually it will also be inadequate for your testing requirements, probably well before the EOL date. It’s best to deal with that sooner rather than later, and when you do, automation should be a major factor in your decision.

There may be promises of porting the API of the EOL product to another platform, but porting an API is a high-risk proposition potentially fraught with compatibility and interoperability issues. Test tools developed by different vendors, or even two different tools developed by a single vendor, don’t have a one-to-one correspondence between features and configuration parameters. Tests on the EOL platform may not be supported on the target platform, or may not be configurable to the same detail.

The reality is that porting an API is not likely to offer efficiencies over transition to any other new platform. It’s simply one transition option among several.

Transition Plans

There are many considerations when building a transition plan, such as budget, disruption to existing development schedules, and how quickly test requirements outstrip waning development on the legacy platform. It is a mistake to allow a five-year EOL plan to reduce your sense of urgency. From all perspectives, an aggressive strategy for evaluating alternatives and navigating the transition is best.
In an EOL situation, there are several key factors to evaluate when selecting a target platform for your test strategy:

  • Coverage for existing requirements (protocols and test cases)
  • Roadmap for future development
  • Productivity tools, such as test wizards, to simplify configuration of complex and realistic test environments
  • A comprehensive automation environment
  • Professional services support

A transition plan is greatly enhanced when the target platform has a single API that supports GUI-based and script-based automation. Such a “configure once, run anywhere” capability can dramatically increase productivity and reduce configuration errors.

An EOL announcement is usually unwelcome, but it can also be a wake-up call to find the best-of-breed solution on a platform with a clear future and a commitment to supporting technology at the bleeding edge. Not only will your productivity and reliability improve, you’ll avoid facing another EOL situation in the future.


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