Service-oriented architectures involve distributed applications with pieces that can be spread out across an enterprise's infrastructure. This presents a challenge to QA teams who must deal with multiple access points, dependencies and degrees of availability when testing changes to service functions.
Virtualizing system configurations is becoming a popular way to deal with this issue. A developer can remove the real-world system dependencies while simulating their influence.
HP has put faith in this approach by signing a deal with software testing vendor iTKO to resell its LISA Virtualize testing suite. The company plans to package LISA with its Quality Management, Functional and Performance Testing products.
LISA gives developers the ability to simulate the behavior and performance of system configurations that a piece of software would need to be tested on. The performance of a simulated system can be dialed up or down to mimic various performance issues.
"While SOA is giving IT the architectural models to create finer grained services that are interoperable and can be reused," said Kelly Emo, SOA product marketing manager for HP Software, "it's created a gap between how agile the development and testing teams can be."
Emo said HP decided to offer LISA products to address the issue of testers not always having direct access to components they need to test. Spinning up a virtual image is more cost-effective, she said, and allows testers greater freedom to tweak various system performance parameters.
"There is much complexity and change in modern IT infrastructures," said Derick Townsend, VP of marketing at iTKO. "Modern applications are multi-tiered and there are a lot of dependencies. Using virtual technology allows you to do more concurrent development than otherwise possible."
Analyst Tony Baer of OnStrategies said virtualized testing is a useful way for developers to mirror their target runtime environments without the additional overhead. He said iTKO's offering is not going to be the last word on SOA testing, but will very realistically strengthen HP's offerings.
"In real life, it's not practical to work on production systems," said Baer. "And it's not affordable to put up full-scale replicas on production systems."