The Challenges of Implementing Service Virtualization

Second of two parts

Is your company willing to put its money where its mouth is? In Round 2 of my interview with Phillip Smiley, enterprise architect at CA Technologies, Smiley shares some of the challenges he faced deploying the company’s own products within its massive organization of more than 13,000 employees. Where Part 1 of the interview focused on the possible uses of CA’s LISA Service Virtualization suite, Part 2 examines the specific application within CA, the challenges Smiley faced, and his sentiments about the process.

PR: Walk us through the process and timeline you utilized at CA.

PS: We started on LISA – not the specific project I’m involved in – several months ago, when we learned to do virtual testing. Because I was very interested, I went to training. Once I learned what I was doing, I did some evangelizing with application architects. I was very happy to find out some had already heard about LISA. They, too, were very interested and started down their own discovery path.

They asked how we could use it. We did a virtual test in conjunction with other products. Pretty quickly it came to the question of how we could grow LISA as a practice in the company, how we could scale this.

You can start with one system. For example, if you have a six-person team, some can be developing web services, some get training on LISA, and then somebody is responsible for the LISA server.

We started talking about the next logical step – how to turn to people in the process that support technology like this. Do we go to the common testing organization and say, ‘You should be the custodian of the LISA environment?’ Do we evangelize how to use LISA? Work with developers who know how to use it?

In the process now, we see the benefits from virtualization and the automated testing process. Now we’re defining the people involved in the process.

When you look at the software development life cycle, as you move software through the process, if you’re moving web servers, do you add LISA? If so, it will become a common LISA environment.

PR: What kind of challenges have you faced, including employee resistance and technical hurdles?

PS: Really the challenge has been finding time for developers to get training. The technical challenge is not that difficult. Development organizations are aware of web services or building web services. That is fairly intuitive. They can’t necessarily sit down cold and do it, but the single biggest hurdle is sitting down to get a little training. I’m finding a high take rate, lots of interest from people developing web services and using this tool.

Another challenge is deciding how to institutionalize it, so you get the benefit of using it. If you have six applications sharing servers, you can’t have pockets of LISA servers. You want them consolidated into common locations so people can go there and get virtual tests and execute those.

PR: Otherwise, can you describe peoples’ reaction to Service Virtualization?

PS: The reception has been pretty good. The test teams are very receptive. They see the benefit. They acknowledge they need training to navigate through the tool, but it’s certainly worth it.

It’s a qualified success right now. The test teams and development organizations are using it now. Where we do development we absolutely see benefits. It’s not just, ‘We can do this because we have the tools.’ I heard somebody say today, ‘If we did not have something like this tool, we would have to find something.’ Service Virtualization is absolutely needed to do this.

PR: Any advice about spreading the message?

PS: There’s been a little cold calling or discovery finding. Sometimes you have to find developers at the right time in their cycle so they can try it out and use it. Once the story matches with the opportunity or timeline, it’s a very easy message to get across and it’s very well received.

PR: Have you discovered any especially valuable uses?

PS: It’s especially valuable in an external system where you might not have access internally. In addition, data privacy is a great use for this.

If we have a product application – say, human resources or finance – where we want to do testing, we can use the tool to do virtual testing against those applications. It obscures the data and allows testing. You don’t run the risk of exposing data to developers.

Look for Phillip Smiley to present his team’s full case study of virtualizing application delivery in person at CAWorld’13, April 21-24. (Registration now available through the site at http://ca.com/caworld.).

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