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Complex software solutions – Service virtualisation

Rene Garcia
Solving, Implementing, Assessing and Understanding

The challenges of complex software solutions often revolve around a lack of integration, isolation, validation and the provisioning of environments. As software becomes able to meet more business requirements, it naturally comes with more challenges that need fixing before official implementation.

This is where service virtualisation comes to the rescue of 21st century developers and testers. Service virtualisation creates an integrated environment with all interfaces becoming available early on – meaning professionals can then code and test software far earlier than they could previously; performance testing can also be undertaken early, so that architectural design issues are flagged up in a timely manner.

Solving the issue – what tools are there?

There are many tools already available that help provide virtualised services; the problem is that they come in a wide range, some from very different ends of the scale. Some offer good virtualisation capabilities, but do not offer a decent enough breadth of functionality or features; whereas tools from the other side of the scale do the opposite.
Each tool has its own strengths and weaknesses. Luckily, we’ve been in the business long enough to be able to offer advice on the best ones available depending on a business’ needs, environments and budget.

It is important for us to point out, though, that the chosen tool is essentially only a means to provide the virtualised environment – the real benefits will be garnered by how it is implemented. In order to make the most out of service virtualisation tools, they must be implemented with a well-defined process in place – a process that recognises what needs to be virtualised and ensures that all services are understood, accurately written and recorded.

With these elements considered, such tools can be used to maximise the benefits of service virtualisation tools, provide an early return on investment (ROI), increase efficiency and reduce cost. It also means the end result can be validated against key success criteria (more on this later) for individual businesses.

Implementing the solution

Stage 1: Assessment

The first stage to implementing service virtualisation tools for maximum effect is to assess the different areas where issues are likely to arise, and where potential benefits can be maximised. Questions like the following need to be flagged up and considered in detail:
  • When does unnecessary down-time occur?
  • What scheduling issues are there with test environments?
  • What is the cost of scheduling applications that interact with third-party services?
By considering the above, the exact requirements a service virtualisation tool needs to meet will be made all the more obvious.

Stage 2: Understanding

Next, it needs to be made obvious how infrastructure and architecture will impact on the end solutions. This requires an understanding of specific components and how they interact, as this will provide a detailed view of the bigger picture of the software under development. 

Following this, an understanding of the technology in use is required – specifically how messages are transmitted from one point to another, and the protocols used to help support integration of this kind.

This brings us back to the notion of key success criteria. Once a decent assessment has been made and an understanding reached, then those involved can make a far more informed call on what the final outcomes of service virtualisation should be – aka, what success should look like and what the optimum qualitative and quantitative outputs should be.

Read our related blog: Complex software solutions - The challenges
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