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Tool quickens complex network device analysis

Posted: 18 Oct 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:device testing? data analysis? network testing?

While there are plenty of network-software testing tools that can capture and analyze packet data on the fly, automating the presentation of that data to simplify and accelerate product and system testing is still a hurdle. At Interop on Oct. 22, Fanfare will demonstrate how its productivity-software tools can help quality-assurance (QA) organizations keep pace with developers and handle increasingly complex products.

"Getting new products to market is taking longerand quality is suffering," said Kingston Duffie, Fanfare founder and chief technology officer. "Today, up to 80 percent of testing is done manually. QA organizations, as a result, require considerable time and skill levels to thoroughly test devices."

Duffie pointed out, in an interview with EE Times, that organizations that attempt to adopt automated testing practices often discover they have to engage in productivity-sapping activities. They find themselves spending valuable time and resources to build a home-grown testing infrastructure, but the backlog of tests to automate just keeps growing. What's more, the testers use legacy-scripting approaches simply to feed the home-grown system.

Fanfare's Duffie also found testing at the development stage to be challenging because developers don't have the tools they need to do simple feature testing. And collaboration and remediation are difficult because "testers lack tools, processes and assets that can be easily communicated in a common language or format."

According to Duffie, his company set out to develop tools to simplify device testing for users of all skill levels and for companies at all phases of maturity. To that end, its latest test-automation software product, Fanfare iTest Team, enables network-equipment manufacturers and service providers to perform complex system testing by executing simultaneous commands to a multitude of different devices in their network to simulate real-life network testing.

Comprehensive solution
iTest Team is an expansion of iTest Personal, which is used for single-device testing. iTest Team is a communications platform that enables basic communication, including finding and reporting a bug, reproducing it and verifying the fix. Test-data assets can be shared via a common language developed by Fanfare. The language provides a single integrated tool for device testing and allows the test engineer to review, document or rerun any historical test at any time. It can also handle multidevice, multiprotocol, multivendor test equipment, including setting up, executing and testing multiple devices simultaneously. Most importantand a time-saveris the ability to analyze all data and assign pass/fail criteria without scripting.

"We want to eliminate having test engineers write scripts for each test vector, a cumbersome chore, to say the least," said Duffie. "And if we can reduce the cost of fixing a network-device defect in the field to close to zero, that would be great."

Duffie hastened to add that he doesn't expect Fanfare tools do that anytime soon, but hopes to narrow the gap in the expanding cost chain. He claimed that, on average, it costs some $15 to fix a defect at the semiconductor level, compared with $150 at the unit level and $15,000 in the field.

"If our tools are implemented at the development stage of a product, and a constant stream of regression data can be used to adjust the product before it leaves the door, then we can certainly put a dent into the costs of [software] defects."

"We are actually making it even easier for developers to integrate our tools into their development cycle by providing open source Eclipse plug-ins," said Duffie.

iTest Team is available for an annual subscription of $6,500 while iTest Personal requires an annual fee of $2,500.

- Nicolas Mokhoff
EE Times




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