The release date of a finished product, among other things, also depends on the speed and efficiency of the testing process. At the same time, in QA, a significant amount of time and money is often spent on creating copies of systems and their configurations, rather than on testing as such. This can have an adverse impact on the quality of the final product. That’s why virtualization technologies that optimize the software testing process are becoming increasingly popular nowadays.
Virtualization involves creating a model of a system, program, or its fragment where testing can be conducted. In the IT sphere, virtualization can be used for a wide variety of tasks – it allows us to create and run multiple systems at once while using a minimum of equipment. Virtualization is of particular importance in software testing, as it significantly reduces development time and improves product quality. According to techradar.com, the most popular service for virtualization now is VMware.
So what are the real benefits of using virtualization in testing and QA?
In its essence, a test environment in virtualization is a copy of the product deployment script. Test engineers can check any fragment of a program until all bugs are identified. By using this method, it is easier to keep in touch with a developer, sending individual parts of the product tested for revision without interrupting the testing process – a tester can simply record the state of the system where the defect was found and share it with the developer in this form. This doesn’t freeze testing, as the tester’s environment is not affected.
The ability to test various scenarios enables testers to detect flaws and errors, which potentially could be experienced by users, at the initial stage of development.
A virtual test environment makes it possible to simultaneously create various specific conditions with any set of characteristics. Here, not only the system as a whole but also its separate elements can be tested. When working with virtual machines, test specialists can simultaneously create different configurations on their physical computer and, if necessary, run any suitable one – using, for example, VMware.
3. Security and recoverability
Virtual machines are less susceptible to threats than physical machines, and the use of a backup makes it easy to restart the process without additional time investments. Also, once created parameters can be transferred to other equipment without additional installation or the risk of data loss.
Cloning a virtual machine also expands the range of testing capabilities. In the case of related cloning, the impact on one of the systems automatically affects the other. Full cloning creates a virtual machine with the same characteristics.
4. Reduced costs
Since virtualization makes it possible to simultaneously create several virtual systems on one server, a QA team can get by with a minimum amount of hardware. Accordingly, less money is spent on its maintenance, and the space allocated for the equipment is reduced. This means that a company of any size, even with a small staff, can conduct testing quickly and efficiently.
5. Reduced time spending
When creating a product, the possibility to test it in various user environments appears after the completion of the development performed on the same platform. This can slow down the entire testing process. Virtualization allows testers to create several virtual machines on one computer and work with them simultaneously, omitting physical manipulations – just a few clicks are enough to go to another fragment.
This means that a QA team doesn’t have to wait for the completed product from developers – they can work in parallel. Moreover, the use of virtual machines releases QA specialists from wasting a lot of time on calculating potential risks and planning system recovery after potential damage caused during testing.
What problems can you face when using virtualization in testing?
1. Some drivers may not be supported in the system: virtual machine drivers may not match the drivers of the hardware under test.
2. Inability to create models of all devices: although virtualization is currently supported on almost all devices, there are some exceptions.
3. In the out-of-memory state, a virtual machine won’t be able to save all the necessary backup files.
4. Despite the wide range of its capabilities, the performance of a virtual machine is still lower than that of a physical computer.
5. Final testing should still be conducted on physical hardware.
6. Your software may need to be updated to work with the virtual test environment.
There are two ways to use virtual machines in testing
Allows an engineer to independently create conditions and configurations required during testing or copy ready-made templates from the file server. There are various free systems that make virtualization cheaper, but this method has a number of disadvantages: virtual machines are deployed spontaneously, without integration into a common infrastructure, and without control of software licenses.
A more costly type of use, which, however, enables a specialist to deploy virtual systems from specialized template libraries within a company’s infrastructure. It also provides the ability to control licenses and create a common space for everyone involved in development.
Virtualization is an effective test optimization tool that has many benefits making the process faster and more efficient. Among them are better quality of the finished product, process flexibility, reduction in costs and time for testing. The decision on the feasibility and expediency of using virtualization is made based on certain factors (device type, memory size, required performance, etc.). However, today, it is one of the most accessible and effective tools to simplify the testing process.
At Andersen, we prefer to alternate between using virtual machines for functional testing immediately after the development of each new functionality and using physical machines for final testing before its release. Learn about how to correctly combine virtual and physical machines for testing from our experts.