This article originally appeared in the Sept. 2012 issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY
Savvy telco providers understand the importance of testing applications to identify performance issues before they occur. However, the vast range of services, plans and options available creates an unprecedented and exponential set of application test cases. As a result, it is nearly impossible to test manually each individual application. By implementing a strategic testing approach that pragmatically applies test automation across business processes tests and working with an outside specialist, telcos can reduce application defects, improve the customer experience and save on costs.
Business and operational applications are the pulse of telecommunication providers. Telcos rely on these applications to run their companies efficiently and to create a positive user experience for their customers. By outlining and implementing a test program, telcos can reduce the risk of OSS/BSS application defects that compromise business operations.
Thoroughly planned and well-architected test programs allow telcos to adapt more quickly to changing market conditions and convergence of services – all while addressing the challenges of building quality, performance and security into business applications. By applying advanced testing systems, telcos can accelerate time to market, enhance the overall customer service experience and thrive in an age of instant expectations.
It is important to begin by thinking about security. As more and more applications and services become accessible via the web and mobile devices, the requirements for application security continue to grow. A breach can result in the loss of consumer confidence, which can have a lasting impact on brand perception and loyalty, not to mention the financial implications.
Just as quality must be built into an application, security must be built in across all phases of the application testing lifecycle starting with comprehensive application threat analysis during architecture and design; application code scanning during development; web penetration testing during test; and security monitoring during operations.
With security in place, telcos should implement a mobile testing plan. The explosion of rich, new telecommunications services – and the mobile devices used to access them – present a serious challenge: how to deliver a consistently outstanding service experience across a rapidly expanding portfolio of services and devices.
Converged telecommunications services delivered across service-oriented architectures are helping providers open new revenue streams and drive additional return from existing services. New technologies enable network resources to be decoupled from the service elements, making it easier for new services to be rolled out to customers faster and at lower costs.
But before these new services are offered to customers, they must be rigorously tested and validated for functionality, scalability, security and quality – no matter on which digital devices customers use them. The user experience is directly related to service adoption. Traditional tools and methodologies are slow and prone to errors. This inefficient certification process delays service introduction and shortens the window of opportunity for capturing revenue.
Telcos must find a solution that automates slow, costly and tedious manual testing processes. The solution should provide greater structure and speed to the testing process and reduce, or even eliminate, service and device errors before they reach customers. These testing programs should have a depth of experience in testing mobile devices and embedded software to help telcos test applications that support their business as well as those that are consumed by their customers.
New testing-as-a-service models include all of the people, process, tools and accelerators in flexible, consumable testing services. Telcos have the option to consume these services on a month-to-month basis, giving them the flexibility to test as much as they need to feel confident that a new release is not going to introduce a defect and cause a system outage.
By using a testing-as-a-service model that is unit-priced, telco providers can consume the units they need to test their release for functional quality and performance. Automated test cases are run on a fixed unit price, lowering the cost to test a release.
An automated regression test suite will reduce the test cycle time, enabling telcos to increase the speed to market of new application features and functionality. At the same time, it will reduce the release cycle and the risk that a defect that will escape to production, causing an outage that impacts business operations.
Testing-as-a-service models enable telcos to eliminate up-front investments in testing application releases; deliver people, processes, tools and accelerators in a flexible, consumable service model; reduce the testing cycle time; reduce the cost to test application releases; increase the level of test coverage; reduce the risk that software defect will cause a system outage in production; release application features and functions to market faster and with more confidence; and ensure applications and services deliver functional quality, performance and security.
Paul Ashwood is a manager for worldwide product marketing, Applications Services at HP Enterprise Services (www.hp.com).
Edited by Stefania Viscusi