Leveraging Your Automation Infrastructure

By Spirent On March 16, 2010
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Maybe it’s possible to maintain a competitive feature set and release schedule without test automation, but I don’t see how. These days, test case automation is table stakes for survival and full test environment automation streamlines development to give you a competitive edge.

Here are a few suggestions for those looking to take advantage of the CapEx and OpEx savings that full automation can give you.

What: If your test engineers aren’t already Tcl experts, look for a system that allows automation without coding.
Why: Save on startup time, save on test-case development, easy to debug.

What: At the basic level of test case automation, look for an API that is integrated with the test application GUI.
Why: The flexibility of GUI-to-script and script-to-GUI removes the artificial barrier between coders and GUI users. The same test can be run interactively or automated.

What: Look for a system that helps you manage test the cycle through test suites, test scheduling and a results database.
Why: Get 24/7 testing without working nights and weekends. Spend your time analyzing results instead of running tests.

What: Look for a system that can automate test lab configuration.
Why: Manual re-cabling for a new test configuration is time-consuming, error-prone, and requires a body on-site. Imagine the convenience and time-savings you would enjoy if it could be done remotely, from your cube or from your off-shore site.

How to avoid painting yourself into a corner

In discussions about test automation, the issue of portability is a big issue for engineers and managers. Every test equipment vendor has its own API. Many labs have test gear from multiple vendors, which means learning multiple APIs. Others are concerned that an investment in creating an automation infrastructure will lock them into a specific vendor simply because of the effort and cost required to migrate the scripts to another vendor’s API.

The best way to address these concerns is to look for a vendor that is a member of the Network Test Automation Forum (NTAF). The NTAF was recently created by a group of test equipment vendors, network equipment manufacturers and service providers to promote the interoperability of commercial testing tools and test infrastructure for the data communications and telecommunications industry.

This means you can get the advantages of automation without having to worry about painting yourself into a corner with any one vendor’s API.

There’s really no reason to avoid automating your lab, and every reason to start now if you haven’t already. Your budget, your management and your customers will thank you.


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