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Interop Feature Articles

April 30, 2008
Accelerating Network Device Testing to Much Fanfare

Fanfare (News - Alert) came to Interop (News - Alert) looking for an audience made primarily of the vendors they would be sharing the aisles with. And with a customer list that features some of the bigger names in our space who could blame them.



Shameless name dropper that I am, here are just a few of Fanfare’s customers: Fujitsu, Cisco (News - Alert), AT&T, Juniper, Tellabs, BT, Alcatel-Lucent, Dell (News - Alert), Motorola (News - Alert), Vyatta, NTT, and more, totaling between 60 and 70 customers.

Not too shabby for a company that was founded just four years ago.

So what do they do, you ask?

Well, I asked David Gehringer, vice president of marketing for the Mountain View-based firm.

Fanfare (News - Alert) provides software solutions designed to allow equipment manufacturers and carriers simplify and accelerate device testing, which enables these constituents to build and run tests, track results against various metrics, and automatically generate documentation that can be easily shared.

In essence the company produces software that is designed to simplify complex device testing, and lessen time to market for their customers.

According to Gehringer, approximately 70 percent of testing is manual today, with developers manually writing out a test plan, running the test manually, manually writing up reports, and the like. The remaining 30 percent of tests are scripted, oftentimes based on older languages such as PERL whereby testers, try to script out manual sequences to help automate and repeat their tests.

But with complexity going through the roof, manual tests and scripted tests are simply not up to the scaling being demanded by carriers. Carriers want better tests, to better prequalify devices for running on their networks.

The dirty little secret is that carriers often buy a new device for their networks, and then spend six months RE-testing it for validation, and only then does the new device go into an acceptance tank, sometimes for up to four more months of manual testing.

Fanfare traps and records the manual testing, in non scripting language, for reuse afterwards.

Fanfare helps developer to automate tests, and — as importantly — to share and proliferate these automated tests to everyone in the chain. So let’s say there is a U.S. based vendor, with product management in the U.K., and an Indian testing facility. Fanfare captures all the pertinent information and quickly and efficiently enables a very precise communication, which in turn helps to accelerate the ability to test successfully, resulting in a shorter time to market.

In fact Gehringer boasted to me of a carrier that is saving 12 man years of development and testing time simply by deploying the Fanfare solution. As the carrier told him, each new device has about 400 defects, some worse, some not so bad. But on average, each defect can cost up to two and a half days to reproduce, to understand it and for developers to remedy it. With two major releases per year and two equipment manufacturers in the carrier’s lab that amounts to 12 man years of testing saved.

Currently Fanfare is enjoying a period of growth and increasing customer demand. But that doesn’t mean they are resting on their laurels. With the threat of competition looming, from established testing vendors as well as new entrants, Gehringer told me they will continue to release newer and more powerful versions of the product in the weeks and months ahead.

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Greg Galitzine (News - Alert) (News - Alert) is editorial director of TMCnet. To read more of Greg’s articles, please visit his 
columnist page.

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