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Borland, VMware Partner on Testing

VMware Inc. and Borland Software Corp. team up around testing.

The job of testing and debugging software has gotten easier over the years with the advent of test-management tools and, later, virtualized environments in which to carry out the tests. The problem has been that connecting a test-management tool from one vendor and a series of complex, cross-platform virtual test environments created by another vendor's tool largely must be done manually or through a homegrown or third-party plug-in.

With the release late last month of its SilkCentral Test Manager 2007, Borland Software Corp. says it has taken the next logical step forward by re-engineering its UI to allow developers and testers to interact with VMware Inc.'s Lab Manager 2.5 through SilkCentral. The integration allows a tester to select and deploy from within SilkCentral a specific virtualized test environment stored in Lab Manager.

"The problem historically has been that before I hit the go button on my Borland automated testing script, I had to find all the servers and set them up," even when those servers were actually virtual machine images, says James Phillips, VMware's senior director of virtual software lifecycle automation solutions. "It was manual, error-prone and labor-intensive. We've now fully automated that manual step."

Integration Made Easy
Brad Johnson, Borland's director of product marketing for lifecycle quality management, says what's new is not that there's a bridge between the two products, but that Lab Manager has essentially been embedded inside SilkCentral from the perspective of the user.

"We're not the first to say, 'Let's integrate lab management with test management,' but we decided not to do it with a plug-in approach," Johnson says.

Forrester Research Inc. analyst Carey Schwaber says the fully integrated approach makes sense. "Customers tend to be a little leery when a third party builds the integration," Schwaber says. "It's better than no integration, but it's not much better than doing it yourself."

The Borland-VMware alliance also couples two hot technologies. Virtualization continues to generate major buzz, and Schwaber says the second-most frequent type of question she gets -- after general development process inquiries -- concerns test-management tools. "And the inquiries I'm getting aren't inspired by somebody hearing about a tool. It's, 'We have this problem. What should we do?'" she says.

Carey Schwaber "Customers tend to be a little leery when a third party builds the integration. It's better than no integration, but it's not much better than doing it yourself."
Carey Schwaber, Analyst, Forrester Research Inc.

A Natural Partnership
Borland and VMware began discussing the integration late last year, Johnson says. The product groups from both companies worked together refining the SilkCentral and Lab Manager APIs to enable the link. Once the APIs were "dialed in," he says, Borland's developers spent about six months building the integration into SilkCentral's UI.

"When you're looking at data in our interface, that's coming directly from Lab Manager now," Johnson says. "When you're executing tests, you're watching them directly inside our test-management interface without ever leaving it."

Johnson says Borland's choice of a partner was clear-cut, with the company's surveys showing roughly 70 percent of SilkCentral customers use VMware products. The partnership also could help drive sales of Lab Manager, VMware's Phillips says.

"One of the real benefits of the integration, other than the fact it's automated and you only have to interact with one system," Phillips says, "is that we can serve more customers without requiring them to be VMware experts or even users."

Forrester's Schwaber says the next logical place to strengthen ties in the testing space is by improving integration of test management with provisioning of physical test environments.

"Virtualization is great -- don't get me wrong," she says. "But some people want to test in a physical environment, especially load testing."
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