STAREAST 2013 Session: Flintstones or Jetsons? Jump Start Your Virtual Test Lab, with David Silk
I'll be honest: I attended this session for its fun title. However, presenter David Silk told everyone early on that the legal department at Warner Brothers, which owns Hanna-Barbera Productions now, wouldn't let him use the copyrighted cartoon images of their prehistoric and futuristic characters. Boo.
David has been in developing, QA, CM, operations, and software engineering. He got the virtual test lab up and running for Verisign Inc., a name you might recognize from your online billing transactions—Verisign was the name next to that little green checkmark assuring you that your credit card information was secure. The company also operates route servers, which help direct you from Page A to Page B on the Internet.
David's presentation used the classic cartoons "The Flintstones" and "The Jetsons" to make analogies to testing. Both worlds had automation. The Flintstones' automation was more manual: They had wheels on their car, but they still had to use their feet to power it, and so on. The Jetsons' environment was totally automated: They had Rosie the robot, and things happened with the push of a button.
Virtualization has made it easy and inexpensive to create multiple environments for testing. One physical server can house the software needed for many virtual testing machines.
So, how do you go about creating your virtual environment at work? First, David says, you need to choose your technology service. There are many offerings. Then, you need to think about hardware. You don't need to be a storage expert to operate the server required for virtual environments—David said the popularity of virtualization has made storage options easier to control.
The cloud has helped with advancements in virtualization efforts, and David said if you're not already using virtualization, you should start. He thinks these environments are the way things are headed, especially now that the bugs of yesteryear are fewer and the results are more reliable.
When you're creating your virtual machine, or VM, David said one of the most important things you can do is automate it. His presentation slides included a checklist to go through to create optimal automation. He also recommended some advanced automation tools, which can help track inventory, install operating systems, manage user accounts, and more. Creating an "ecosystem," as David called it, can help with speed and ease of operation as well, such as utilizing templates and test beds.
Virtualization can greatly reduce the time it takes to create testing environments, so David encourages you to be a George Jetson, not a Fred Flintstone: The more automation you have, the easier your job will be.