Erik Linask : Convergence Corner
Erik Linask

July 2009

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VoIP Testing is Needed, Test Automation is Needed More

July 15, 2009

If you read "Zippy" Grigonis' article on VoIP testing in the June issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY, you're keenly aware that there are a number of test solution vendors out there. In fact, products from many of them can be found in test labs across the world running side by side.   You might find an Empirix Hammer running beside products from Touchstone, NetHawk, Tektronix, Ixia, or others. The fact is that they each have their strengths - but what they don't do well is run collaboratively. And, running repeated tests on all of them is a cumbersome task, but one that has to be done in order to ensure product reliability.   This gets into an area that has come into the spotlight in the communications space -- automation. Many companies have developed workflow automation solutions already, and Interactive Intelligence recently announced its IPA (Interaction Process Automation) solution to automate workflows using a unified communications solution.   As for the telecom testing space, I spoke recently with Terry Caterisano, who founded a company with the idea that many of these test procedures could -- and should -- be automated. More importantly, he believed the capabilities of products from different vendors could be automated on a single solution.   "Occasionally, we've taken a little time to write a script or a program that would automate certain pieces of the test process, but there was never a comprehensive test automation framework that was generic enough to cover all the different test cases," he said.   Well, that's what CallMation has introduced with its WerkMATE test automation framework.   Basically, WerkMATE is a vendor and device agnostic framework that allows automation of testing processes via a Web GUI, allowing users to cut manual testing time by as much as 80% according to research -- though Caterisano says, in his experience, that figure is closer to 50%.   That said, it's safe to say any service provider or equipment manufacturer would be overjoyed to eliminate half of the manual labor that goes into their routine testing.   According to Caterisano, WerkMATE will work with any test solution that allows users to enter commands to run test scenarios -- that amounts to basically any test solution out there.   The company's expertise is in the telecom space -- which is why its original focus was on those solutions. But, he explained that the framework is actually easily adapted to many other industries, like IT, defense, aerospace, and others, because it was developed as truly agnostic to the applications and products under test -- it allows the testing products to run the tests for which they were developed, acting as a manager and data collection facility.   One customer in the medical records management space found a need for a framework that would be able to schedule tasks to automatically check the status of interfaces in the medical field. These weren't interfaces Caterisano and his team were familiar with.   "What we found was that they aren't much different from telecom interfaces," he said. "They are just standardized medical interfaces for medical imaging devices and various other devices in the medical arena."   "So, it's not unique to telecom, though that's our area of expertise," he added. "We developed the product to really be agnostic, and not specific to telecom."   Read my article about WerkMATE in the telecom testing space here.