Software QA FYI - SQAFYI

Telecom Testing and Convergence

By: Jithesh Sathya

1. Introduction
As operators begin to add new networks and expand existing networks to support new technologies and products, standardizing bodies are coming up with models, tools and methodologies for design and development in converged space.

Testing strategies have not evolved with technology and they still rely on legendary models like V, X and a proactive testing model which is not best suited for the telecom industry. Testing in the telecom domain is much more complicated than other domains in terms of environment, hand offs and technology. With convergence and concepts like multi-service, multi-vendor and heterogeneous networks; testing of interface and components become more difficult and complicated.

Another important factor influencing the requirement for proper telecom testing are the mergers and acquisitions among the key vendors. Ease of integration is critical and requires a holistic view of telecom testing. These requirements trigger the need for new strategies in telecom testing.

This paper presents a Telecom Testing lifecycle in which the different activities of the telecom stake holders are represented as views. The paper gives a holistic view to telecom testing lifecycle using NGOSS lifecycle as its foundation.

The paper is organized as follows. First, the current testing models and the problems they fail to address are briefly outlined. Then, we discuss the proposed telecom testing lifecycle. Each view of the lifecycle is then handled to describe the testing challenges and their resolution. Finally, a lifecycle model is created and an approach to use the same is discussed. The paper also includes a brief discussion on mapping telecom testing to NGOSS concepts.

2. Existing Models for Software Testing

The V Model is the most popular testing model and is based on the waterfall lifecycle model. It has several distinct testing levels and illustrates how each level addresses a different stage of the software lifecycle. The V shows the typical sequence of design and development on the left-hand (downhill) side and the corresponding sequence of test execution activities on the right-hand (uphill) side.

As design models have evolved and the concept of handoffs between levels became popular such as the spiral design model, testing using V model proved less effective in projects that involved frequent build cycles. The X model for testing was then adopted by many, to address some of the concerns raised against the V model.

Proactive testing intertwines development and testing lifecycle, identifying key activities in both with better time management by testing each deliverable and iterative development-test approach.

No test discussion would be complete without the test-planning structure suggested by IEEE standard 829-1998 which involves conceptualizing test plans at different levels, either as individual documents or sections within a larger document.

3. Telecom Testing
Telecom lifecycle is different from the software lifecycle and a testing strategy based on the telecom lifecycle is required to address the issues of converged space. V, X and proactive testing models do not address the challenges of telecom end-to-end business in the converged world as it is non-standard and lacks a common industry acceptance. Issues in telecom testing are taken up in more detail as challenges under each view of telecom lifecycle.

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Telecom Testing and Convergence