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COTS Testing Applications

COTS Testing Applications COTS, Commercial Off-the-Shelf software became a major part of any organization on building the maintenance and working flow capabilities. COTS software are even integrated into the testing processes without much of increase in the testers activities and effort. More and more companies are breaking their heads to understand what is better for them, COTS against In-House developed frameworks. Defining the COTS software Commercial Off-The-Shelf software, means external application created by third party vendor to test the in-house product. The COTS intend to help you automating some of your testing plan, and increase your availability for many types of testing. Does COTS has a scripting language? COTS are not focus on specific product, and have many general capabilities, which means that sometimes because of specific need, company cannot use COST software, so some of the COTS has scripting availabilities which gives them the option to cover the unknown demand. Companies today can decide between: In-House tools, COTS and Testing Framework tools (which is very strong on its scripting capabilities), But because the boundaries are bluer today, there is many COTS with already strong scripting capabilities, but the still support their Visual Design, and No scripting modes. COTS software for Testing Advantages +> Quick installation, configure which give fast start and use capabilities +> Training is available usually by the vendor, less learning effort for the company using it +> COTS vendor sometimes have other tools that integrate with the specific testing tool or have plugins for wider technology under test supported. +> COTS software will get much more Mature and Reliable then In-house tools because of their time period in the market and their sensitivity for the customers' needs on coverage and reliability. +> COTS will get to be much more intuitive and user friendly, because of their understanding of the users activity characteristic. In-house development usually focus on the actual functionality need, with very less time to invest in GUI and usability. COTS software for Testing Disadvantages -> License cost can be Expensive, must consider support contract as well (up to 30% of the cost of the tool license per year. -> Large amount of functionality and wide support for thechnology, if you need much less then it support you might suffer from overhead skills and learning costs -> Integrating COTS into the production system and processes takes time, effort and money. ROI check is most needed, and its not always clear about its profitability -> Very slow updating to your new technologies under test. If the tool needs an update to your new technology and support it might take a while (half a year to even 2 years) -> Changing COTS might cause a loss of your history executions and updates Does COTS means Black Box testing only ? COTS is a close application so you have no access to the source code. With some tools it means that you have to adopt the black-box testing approach, for doing the actual scenario or activity on your system. But today some COTS already has File System analyzing capabilities, system resources tracking, snapshots collecting all this supported when designing the test case, so you get a Gray Box testing almost as white box testing should be. Some COTS have external integrated plugin options which can be used to wider their testing capabilities giving them more options to debug and analyze the environment during suspicious results. TRUST, you have to trust the COTS functionality. When having a problem with the test results and you have to decide between the product defect or the testing mechanism fault, you have to have other mechanism to insure that the COTS was operating as defined. You can't look at the COTS code, and if you suspect it you have to reference it with some other external tool or procedure. Does it has memory leaks, boundary violations, performance bottlenecks, etc. You will never know, unless you will have the mean to test it. Small Tip $> Avoid complex combinations of tests and the idea of "testing everything." Instead, base tests on functional or business processes used in the real world environment. $> Organize the testing scenarios needs into minimum automated scenarios, there is no need to test it all. The best combination that will give the 80% coverage is enough. More than that will put you into position of getting the COTS failures as well, means that you will spend a lot of time on meaningful scenarios. Is There a defect free COTS ? COTS is an application, so it probably will have defects. For most vendors the primary defect metric understood is the level of defects their customers will accept and still buy their product. The question raising here is if I find a defect, how fast they will fix it ? well the answer for that is depending on their commercial strategy and customer influence. It is differenct between one vendor to another. Small Tip Do not assume any level of product quality without at least a preliminary test. A common strategy is not to be an early customer of a new release. It's often wise to wait and see what other users are saying about the product.
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