Thursday, December 18, 2008

[Misc] Virtualisation for Software-Engineering

The easy accissible virtualisation tools like Virtual Box enable new applications in software engineering. An obvious usage pattern would be, to provide prepared systems for customers to evaluate that would require rather complex installations and setups.

Not so apparent is the usage in automated testing. Tests of higher granularity like integration tests are sometimes difficult to automate as they often require (again), complex installations of several components (database, middleware, legacy components...), setup of these components plus a consistent state of all these components. Virtualisation can facilitate that process significantly. The developers can create a consistent image of the system where all dependent systems are properly installed, configured and fed with data.

This image is used as reference. In the build and test automation one has to get the clean image, start it, install the more "dynamic" modules, i.e. the system under development and test, and execute the (integration) tests in the virtualisation, then collect the test results and shutdown the virtual system again. That procedure allows deterministic test-scenarios on different machines, also (or particularly) on a continuous integration server.

Sounds good, however in practice I am still missing some tools that support that. Linux in the box is of course a good start as everything is easily scriptable. However, if you want to include the virtualisation into the build-automation (e.g. in Maven) and into the continuous integration server, plugins to Maven/Ant... would be useful that allow to control the virtualisation environment, trigger activities there and retrieve data (e.g. the test-results).

In an initial research I did not find much tools in that area, any ideas?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

From an internship I know that virtualization has been used for testing for some years in an Austrian company and that there exist tools. But unfortunately I do not remember the tools' names...