Software Quality is an Effective Marketing Tool
By Andy Huckridge
The Chrome browser from Google has been on everyone’s lips recently. But what
does it tell us from a testing perspective? In short, it tells us that software quality
is now a key marketing tool. In a highly contended marketplace, where everyone knows what bad
quality means, a product that simply works as promised can change the landscape over-night — whether
or not Google Chrome will actually succeed.
Have you had your browser die on you while filling up various
questionnaires and other overly complex web content? Have you
felt the sluggishness of the software when trying to multitask
across several different sites? Still, everyone knows the web, and
its problems, and maybe even take them for granted. But have
you had bad experiences with other consumer products? VoIP,
3G, IMS, Digital Television? Most of you probably have.
Consumers Work Like a Herd
Testing has many faces, and if one of those aspects is missed, the endresult
will not be accepted by the marketplace. Consumers are more
and more informed on the quality of products, and user experiences
are shared openly through the Internet. For example, before buying
a car, people first search the Internet for common failures in the
brand, and study carefully the opinions of other people. Not about
the features, but past problems or lack of problems. Such brand-loss
is difficult to rebuild, as the Internet never forgets a thing.
People buy products with solid brands, and advertise those
products openly. Critique is usually open as well. But the selection
criteria change over time. The IMS quality assurance market
is still caught up in legacy criteria such as quality of service and
performance, which might have been the top criteria for carriers
and service providers. Consumers see the same issues with different
eyes. The main selection criteria are almost always brand and
reputation, and those are built from usability and reliability. In
short: the overall quality of the product.
Test More with Less
But how do you keep up with the increasing demands of the consumers?
How do you keep the brand untarnished? The solution
is test automation.
Unit testing today is mostly automated. Almost every testing
professional is also a programmer, fluently writing test scripts
with a wide range of scripting languages. Test automation frameworks
bind them together, and automate the early testing steps.
Also, the user interfaces are automatically explored to try various
test cases, including recording and reproducing common use cases.
Think of them as cheap test engineers – teach them once and they
will automatically do the same thing over and over again.
A recent addition to most professional test automation frameworks
is fuzzing, a negative testing approach that will explore the
unexpected inputs to the software to find and eliminate security
issues in the software. In their marketing material, Google described
the tests done by fuzzing tools to be like monkey testing,
random inputs to various APIs and network interfaces.
The testing at telecom companies has been dominated by large
testing vendors that do it all in a piece of test equipment. Today
those companies still dominate the carrier tests. But when testing
the consumer products, the field is completely different. It feels
like client-side testing is so much ahead of the core network testing
in the area of test automation.
Due to availability of test automation tools, testing today is simpler
and faster. But the area of test automation often involves a number
of different tools and test tool vendors. Collaboration between those
vendors is key for good quality products. Various user environments
and communication technologies require different tools. Very rarely
you find one vendor that can offer everything by themselves. But
that just enables us testing experts to pick and choose the best products,
ones that fit our own special needs.
Andy Huckridge is Vice President, Marketing, Codenomicon. Andy
has worked in the Silicon Valley telecommunications industry for
more than a decade and has a broad background in defining and
marketing products for the semiconductor, VoIP and IMS/NGN
space. Andy is active in various Forums including the Multi-Service
Forum, where he is chairperson of the Interoperability Working
Group & NGN Certification Committee. Andy is a VoIP patent
holder, an IETF RFC co-author and inaugural member of the
“Top 100 Voices of IP Communications” list. He holds Bachelor’s
and Master’s degrees in Telecommunication Engineering from the
University of Surrey, England. Reach him at at firstname.lastname@example.org
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