Crafting the Test Approach
(The following is an excerpt from Chapter Four of the book "Enterprise Network Testing: Testing Throughout the Network Lifecycle to Maximize Availability and Performance," available from Cisco Press.)
This chapter covers the following topics:
Chapter 1, "A Business Case for Enterprise Network Testing," stressed the importance of assessing the business reasons for testing as your first step in crafting an effective test approach. In the same way that a network designer would be foolish to specify equipment or make technical recommendations without prior knowledge of customer requirements, a test engineer would be misguided to attempt writing a test plan without first understanding the triggers, scope, motives, and expectations for the test initiative. By rushing ahead and skipping this critical step, you risk missing the mark in your testing, focusing on the wrong types of tests, or capturing erroneous results. This will waste precious time and resources as you continuously redefine your test plan; add, remove, or modify equipment to your lab topology; rerun your test cases; and generate reports. Taking time to identify the objectives and outline an assessment is critical before you ever step foot into the lab. Only after the following questions are answered should you begin to write a detailed test plan or build a lab topology:
As discussed in Chapter 2, "Testing Throughout the Network Lifecycle," a complimentary relationship between network testing and design functions exists in organizations that execute enterprise architecture effectively. We explained how structured testing complements and validates design deliverables, by providing examples of the different types of test requests that you can expect throughout the network’s lifecycle. This chapter will begin to fill in the practical details of what is necessary to build an effective approach toward different types of test requests. It begins with a suggested approach for assessing and scoping a test project, and offers guidance and best practices for the following considerations:
As with most technical undertakings, there is no absolute right way to approach systems testing. We do not promote ours as the only way to conduct successful testing. However, this is a proven method that will improve your chances of getting it right the first time.