Even until a few years back, integration and interoperability testing was limited to a specific system or systems largely within the same organization. As the market gets competitive and end users demand newer and richer solutions, product companies are attempting to address those demands creatively. A new phenomenon around complex external integrations is catching up. Organizations are beginning to rely and leverage each other’s strengths in providing a seamless offering to the end users. While cross-organizational integrations and associated interoperability and compatibility have been in use for quite some time, what we are seeing now include a lot of hardware-software level integrations. For example, ensuring Microsoft Office works fine on MAC and addressing any issues have long been a part of the compatibility testing charters of both Microsoft and Apple. However, such cases largely involved software specific integrations. Compatibility testing has itself vastly increased in scope in the recent years with the advent of mobile computing. Tests specific to application rendering across devices, taking into consideration their form factor, screen size etc. have become the need of the day, as opposed to the age-old OS – Browser testing matrix that we have traditionally used. The internet has become a very powerful medium empowering businesses collaborate in delivering a better experience to their end users. What happens online in a matter of just 60 seconds, is unbelievably true in showcasing the power of the internet.
Our story here extends into recent examples around the kind of partnerships that organizations are working on, increasing the scope of interoperability testing in a tester’s world. Google has partnered with Starbucks in providing 10 times faster wireless service. This is expected to be multiple times faster (up to 100 times) at Starbucks locations where Google is launching its Fiber Internet Service. Google glass which was introduced earlier this year already has some interesting collaborations underway, including the one with Mercedes Benz on in-car and out-of-car navigations. At a completely software level, integrations and services between providers, even major competitors continue to progress – for e.g. Amazon web services started providing SDK support for Windows Store apps in July this year. What do these mean from a tester’s standpoint? Integration testing certainly extends itself into a larger space with more of external API level integrations. Ongoing communications with the external organizations to get the APIs functional at the earliest possible time to integrate them in their testing efforts is important. After the systems at both ends reach a reasonable shape and are ready to be system tested, interoperability testing would need to be taken up. More than the implementation details of these testing techniques, the tester would have to focus on the software aspects of building the right rapport with the required stakeholders and testing groups in the other organization to make the effort collaborative and successful. One additional test that is becoming important in these cases is live field testing. Field testing is not anything new to several organizations but field testing in collaboration with an external organization is what is beginning to gain momentum. For e.g. Mobile service providers regularly undertake field tests in varied locations to determine signal strengths but in case of the Google-Starbucks partnership we talked about, the field test involves cohesive efforts from both organizations to successfully conduct one, including the logistics, testing scope and coverage, action plan to address issues found etc. While it is exciting to see such partnerships, it will take a good amount of maturity and planning in diligently implementing a scalable integration, interoperability and compatibility test effort also taking into consideration the need for a detailed field test.