Getting the MoST From The Lab

Organizations today face a host of challenges that impact their ability to remain competitive in a world where the pace of change has accelerated exponentially. Their core goal, however, has not changed: to deliver high quality products and services with faster time to market. To achieve that, they look to automation to accelerate testing.  The practices of the past, like hoarding equipment or manually setting up and taking down test beds is inefficient, time consuming and costly.  New technologies in the modern network are expensive and budgets are shrinking.  Inefficiencies in lab equipment utilization can no longer be tolerated.

The solution to increasing equipment utilization in the lab is to automate it. The key to a long-lasting automation solution is to select the right tools, processes, and people that will define a solution that works for today and tomorrow.

Who Needs Software-Defined Lab Operations?

Lab Operations are suited for teams conducting ongoing network testing, particularly those with complex lab environments or those that are distributed across internal groups or facilities.

•Service Providers—accelerate service onboarding, testing of updates and patches, developing and testing new services

•Network Equipment Manufacturers —integrate Lab Ops into your DevOps continuous integration, deployment, test and delivery into product development, facilitate solution demonstrations to prospective customers, and reduce customer support time

•Enterprises—simplify onboarding, developing and testing new services

•Security—enhance cyber range training with easily customizable scenarios

Doing More With Less

Historically organizations have multiple teams that need access to equipment to perform their function.  Development, QA, technical support, and even sales teams all require the use of very expensive resources.

As the technology in networks becomes more complex, it also becomes more expensive.  These teams no long have sufficient budgets to purchase their own equipment and instead are pooling resources, consolidating labs and attempting to share the equipment.  However, without a very well organized process for sharing and an easy-to-use lab operations solution, the sharing reverts back to hoarding and the optimization of utilization is not realized.

Lab Operations for Networking is the solution to making efficient use of resources in a consolidated lab across a multi-team organization

Benefits of Software-Defined Lab Operations

Faster Time To Market
Sandboxes with repeatable blueprints slash environmental setup and configuration times, reduce QA and validation cycles, enable consistency across lifecycle, and reduce complications when pushing to production.

Access Anywhere
Software-defined labs reduce hoarding, redundant purchases and overall spend by pooling labs and resources across the organization and automating physical layer connectivity. Now you can get better ROI through maximized utilization of test equipment and reduced waste and overlap while delivering cloud-based access to users anywhere in the world.

Better Visibility
See who is using what resources and how much they are using them. Enjoy better insights and easier scheduling with easy to use web-based dashboards.

Better Quality
By modeling production like environments earlier in the software or product lifecycle, and integrating with continuous processes, defects can be caught earlier, test and innovation shifted left, and overall quality increased.

Keeping Up With The Pace of Change

As networks become more and more software centric, the advancement in technology has accelerated to speeds unimaginable even 5 years ago.  The adoption of software defined networking has accelerated in the datacenter and the core network.  Virtual network function continues to advance and give providers the ability to dynamically deliver and scale services to their customers almost instantly.

The pace of change that these technologies must be tested and deployed as part of an AGILE  Continuous Development/Test/Delivery process.  The Lab Ops solution used in today’s test labs must be able to orchestrate physical and virtual labs, and private and public cloud architectures. 

Features of Software-Defined Lab Operations

  • Model and provision complex infrastructure and application blueprints that may include physical, virtual, cloud, and network components
  • Deploy blueprints interactively via a self-service catalog or automatically via external processes via Sandbox API
  • Minimize hoarding by automating setup and teardown of sandboxes on demand
  • Allow 24/7 global access to labs and data-centers
  • Federate global sites into single self-service cloud
  • Manage, track, and control infrastructure usage down to port level
  • Enable dynamic power control for true “lights out” operations

Testing In The DEVOPS World

With the pace of change being accelerated by AGILE processes that come as part of DevOps development & delivery, the testing function runs the risk of becoming the bottleneck that prevents the organization from achieving the operational and business goals set.

Gartner’s 2019 Strategic Roadmap for Networking observes that by 2019 data centers and networks should “leverage people and technology to support automation aligned with business objectives” to face the challenges of 2022. This means test labs designed to test these networks must also be in sync with that trend. Other Gartner research cites that by 2020, DevOps initiatives will compel 50% of enterprises to implement continuous testing using open-source tools. These imperatives drive a “shift left” approach to testing which demands continuous testing as part of the entire development and release process. 

Test teams must evolve to work smarter by deploying test automation, and by leveraging their scripting efforts into all the phases of the CD/CI/CT/CD processes.

Want help or have questions?