Testing one, two … Hello? Is this thing on?
Testing is a common and even natural process that we use regularly to ensure success. We learn it at a very young age when we ‘test’ boundaries with our parents. We take exams in school to evaluate our knowledge, test drive vehicles before buying them and run ideas by colleagues before officially presenting to a group. Even TV chefs admonish us to taste our food before we serve it. If you think about it, testing is an integral part of many day-to-day activities.
It plays an especially critical role in technology development as vendors regularly test solutions to ensure that new features work while gaining a better understanding of areas that need improvement. Unfortunately, most vendors focus early testing efforts on their own solution with little insight into how it might interact with other technologies.
This is an important point for customers evaluating new solutions. Not only does a solution have to deliver on the features it promises, but it also must work within the companies existing IT infrastructure. What good is that latest and greatest SIP trunking service if it doesn’t work with the company’s PBX and telephony infrastructure?
And yet many vendors and solution providers do not conduct interoperability testing until the very end of the development cycle – sometimes even after they are already selling a product or service. It’s a bit of a gamble, hoping that beneficial new features will run effectively with a customer’s existing IT.
Imagine you are at the top of a deep ravine in a rainforest. You’ve been looking forward to this zip line adventure since you first planned the vacation. Now you are told that you’ll be the first person to try out the new harness. “I sure hope it’s as strong as the company promised,” the attendant says. “The cable trolley didn’t fit as snuggly as I had expected and the brake seems a bit stiff. But I’m sure it’s going to be just fine.”
While this is hopefully a very unlikely scenario, it illustrates the importance of testing interoperability early — before it counts. Customers don’t want to be the guinea pig, wasting their time, money and effort on a solution that might not even work – or deliver the full benefit.
Interoperability testing should be much more than an end-of-cycle proof point. Seen as a strategic part of the development process, interoperability testing can help ensure that a particular solution will work with the most common and popular IT platforms and technologies. In other words, it will help a vendor to deliver what their customers demand – and not fall into a scary ravine.