Tuesday, 1 May 2007

As The Matter of Testing

Okay, a few words about testing now...

As I wrote before I'm working on a huge project involving a lot of technology and hardware:
  1. database clusters,
  2. web clusters,
  3. computational clusters for concrete algorithms,
  4. all mentioned above distributed across a few data centers,
  5. mix of Linux and Windows platforms etc.
To my mind the project is not typical for an outsourcing company. As you might suspect outsourcing companies usually don't have resources and processes established for development of big systems. Also they don't bother much about quality (no matter what they tell you and which certificates they have) what is crucial in construction of a 24x7 solution. But this is the core of the business - they do not sell products, they sell people (more on this in separate posts). Nevertheless every company has a QA department. So do we. The only problem is that the QA staff is not technical in nature. In other words we don't have software engineers in testing at all. To be honest there are few projects which really need something more advanced than just clicking through the user interface to make sure it works and meet the specification. A small numbers of exceptional projects which needs sophisticated testing tend to have some developers assigned to this activity inside the project team. Sounds not bad - at least we have testing in place. The only problem is that there are a few questions each team has to answer first:
  1. how to setup the testing process?
  2. what and how to test?
  3. how to accumulate the results?
  4. what conclusions can be made on the basis of the data collected?
As you probably understood a team needs to create the whole testing process from scratch knowing literally nothing about how to do it efficiently. In our case the additional question arose: how to do it right for a 24x7 system?

Fortunately we are not alone on the planet :). Here is the excellent video from Google which answers some of the questions above. Enjoy!

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