Shipping the UNH-IOL’s First vIOLett 802.1 Core Test Software

As a full-time undergraduate student pursuing a computer science B.S. degree at the University of New Hampshire, one might be surprised to learn I have the time or expertise to work on assisting in the delivery of the first vIOLett 802.1 Core layer 2 application suite. I have been working in the Ethernet Switching Protocols (ESP) test group at the University of New Hampshire - InterOperability Laboratory (UNH-IOL) for 4 years. In ESP, we have been working on a new software development project called vIOLett 802.1 Core. vIOLett 802.1 Core is a suite of applications that helps automate our test suites, which allows vendors to pre-test their equipment in-house before sending the equipment to be officially tested here at the IOL. After much development and testing, vIOLett 802.1 Core has been shipping since November 1, 2016.

We listened to our customer base and their desire to perform testing in their own facility before official IOL testing. This would lead to a year long process of designing, developing, and documenting software applications. We worked closely with many software tools to help with the development of the project. We used SVN as source control to track changes in our code and to allow parallel programming with multiple developers. We also used the ticket tracking tool, Redmine, to store, track, and prioritize bugs that we had found and are working on resolving. We utilized an agile like development process, regularly holding bug tracking sessions to keep efforts moving forward. Other aspects of the development process included quality assurance of each test case in each test suite to verify they complied with existing IOL test suites and to the Layer 2 standards upon which the test suites were based. We decided to run a closed Beta and allowed a few vendors access to the vIOLett 802.1 Core suite in it’s early state to get feedback. This feedback was crucial to understanding the usability and the intuitive nature of the GUI existing in the product. Additional considerations had to be made for the unique environments of our customers. The tool must be able to be installed onto a new, clean system as well as a system that already has the application installed. We considered this and other scenarios like it when packaging our application into its installer. Our installer will replace the core files of the app while preserving saves, captures, and configurations.

Every aspect of the product must go through thorough quality assurance (QA) to make sure there are as few bugs as possible. Our testers used the app suite in their day to day testing of vendor products sent to the IOL. Once the tool has all the features implemented for the current release, the developers continued working with the QA part of the team to verify correct functionality. A final version of the tool was compiled and built into a single executable package. QA continued to test this build, further revisions were made, and new builds were created until QA gave its final approval of the tool. The application is then considered to be stable and ready to be shipped.

vIOLett 802.1 Core suite is a useful and effective product that allows its users to integrate its test capabilities into their internal development process. It will allow ESP members an opportunity to resolve device issues before sending them to the IOL for full third-party independent testing. The applications are ready to be used by our customer base as part of the ESP Testing Services full membership and are also for sale to ESP non-members.