Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Using Virtual Machines to help me test

Tableau gives me a couple of ways to maintain virtual machines for a test environment.  My preferred method is probably seen as "old school" at this point.  I create machines locally to run on my nice desktop machine and use them in Hyper V.  This gives me the most control of my machines, they are always accessible and I can maintain them when and how I prefer to do so.  Right now, since I am still setting them up, I have a 32 bit Windows 7 machine, a 64 bit Windows 7 machine and a Debian machine.

We also use Openstack more globally and I would be willing to bet most folks around Tableau use it by default.  It has its own advantages - I can just select what OS and such I want, and the server builds a machine for me. I can log in when it is done, it doesn't consume any resources from my desktop and I can otherwise use it as needed.  I have not had any problems with this system at all: I simply prefer to run my machines locally since that is the first way I was introduced to using VMs for testing and development.

Informally, I once did a little experiment to judge how much faster I could be as a tester with more machines.  At one point, when I was testing email clients and servers, I had 14 total machines set up in my office running many different languages of clients and servers to validate email sent and received in these situations.  I was able to go about 50% faster by having all these machines under my control than by relying on labs or others to set up and maintain them.  I could also make any changes I wanted whenever I wanted since I was the only user.  The downside was learning to be a client and server and network administrator since I had to do all the work myself.  That probably paid for itself in the long run - the better I know my product overall the better my testing will be - but I did not factor that into my calculations of spending about 1-2 hours per day tweaking all the machines.  One last advantage with this many machines is that while updating them took quite a bit of time, since I updated them one after the other, one machine was almost always ready for testing while the rest were being upgraded.

And now, back to work!

Questions, comments, concerns and criticisms always welcome,

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