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Why a career in testing makes sense

原创 Linux操作系统 作者:AlexQin 时间:2011-07-16 22:03:46 0 删除 编辑
By: R SUBRAMANYAM

Wipro employee Deepika Mamnani chose testing as a career over her earlier role as a software programmer. A move that few years ago would have shocked her peer group. Testing, back then, was a least desirable function within the IT fraternity. Programmers, when asked to be a part of a testing project, would actually view it as a punishment.

There, however, is a noticeable change in attitude, with techies over the years taking on to testing. Project leaders at software services firms say that the interest level in testing as a job is growing. Persuading software professionals to move to testing is no longer needed. Many developers are, in fact, asking to be a part of the test team at IT companies.

For large software companies, the change in mindset in the techie community has come at the most appropriate time, as income generated from testing services is growing every quarter.

Big players in software services like Infosys and Wipro, for one, are increasing their investment on testing. Tier II software vendors like Cognizant and stand-alone testing service providers also say that business is booming. "Testing services", says G Sumitra, director, testing practice at Cognizant, "is a key growth driver for the IT industry."

Helping it gain traction are the rapid increase in the number of transactions going online and the growing number of productivity-critical applications, both of which have made a robust testing infrastructure imperative.

With many testing tools being out in the marketplace, the ability to provide fully-integrated testing services in different environments has also been made possible, she explains. Further, many product companies are adapting to independent testing, verification and validation to crunch the cycle time for deployment of their products.

Echoing a similar view, Suresh Vaswani, president, Wipro Infotech, says that few years ago the downsize of an enterprise application would not cause much damage. Not any longer, as companies have to make sure that applications - especially the customer-facing ones - are glitch-proof, which can be possible only through rigorous testing.

Technology analysts firm Gartner's analysis of the testing market reveals its huge potential. The estimated market for software testing is $13 billion which is 39% of the global outsourcing business. About 30% of an application life-cycle is testing and around 80% of it can be outsourced, Gartner says.

While the importance of testing has been established, to what extent it is needed, depends on the nature of an application. Life-critical applications such as aerospace and healthcare, for instance, need thorough testing than those applications which are not. Similarly, applications used by a bank need to be almost defect free.

Gangadharaiah C P, senior vice-president, Wipro, says for consumer goods like mobile phones, testing is vital. If the product fails while in use, manufacturers would lose both reputation and market share.

India is steadily emerging as a key hub for software testing, and testing is becoming one of the fastest-growing service lines in the offshore space, say software service vendors. With increased usage on Internet driving the market demand for applications, the market for testing is expected to be a fundamental part of the software industry.

By outsourcing software testing, clients can reduce the cost of quality by up to 30%. This savings can be redeployed for releasing new features, says Arun Ramu, vice-president, independent validation services, Infosys, adding that rigorous validation methodologies ensure that applications are defect-free before they are exposed to stakeholder.

Both Infosys and Wipro, the two big software vendors, are seeing a quantum jump in earnings from testing services. This service for Infosys contributed to 6.2% of the company's Q2 FY 06 revenue of Rs 2,294 crore.

For Wipro, testing services earned $68 million in the first half of FY06. Revenues from this service in FY05 was $90 million. "We are seeing consistent growth each quarter," says Gangadharaiah.

Ditto for Cognizant, which says that testing services is its fastest growing new offering. In calendar 2004, the number of career testers grew from 200 to over 1000. "We expect it to double in size in calendar 2005 taking the headcount of career testers to 2000," says Sumitra.

While large players, both domestic and multinational, are battling it out to grab a large chunk of the outsourced testing services, companies that offer testing as a stand-alone service say they too are seeing abundant growth.

The presence of big boys is not a threat, they say. ThinkSoft - which specialises in providing testing service to banking, financial and insurance segment - says that the many clients prefer to go to independent testing vendors, rather than to a company which also offers testing along with application development and maintenance (ADM) services.

Vanaja Arvind, executive director, ThinkSoft, says that domain expertise that the company has built over several years is unmatched. This gives it a strong competitive advantage. Big and medium size vendors too, are using the domain expertise as a trump card to highlight their differentiation.

Cognizant says that the two big differentiators for its testing services are domain-aligned testing, and automated testing. Wipro says that along with domain knowledge, it is the early start in this space which gives it an upper edge. "We offer several in-house developed point solutions and frameworks such as defect prediction and capture tools," says Gangadharaiah.

Compared to the traditional ADM service, testing lends itself more to offshoring, a feature that software vendors find very attractive. Vaswani says that offshore component in testing is as high as 80%, compared to 70% in ADM and 50% in package implementation service offerings.

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