Automation with Virtual Machines

Virtual machines or Virtual PC’s are software like VMware that emulates real computers. By using virtual machines in your QA testing, you can emulate different computers with different OS’s on a single physical computer or create a whole virtual lab, with several differently configured virtual machines.

These virtual computers work independently from each other and you can launch two or more virtual platforms simultaneously on one computer, saving the cost of having to purchase more hardware just to run your QA tests. Applications running on a virtual machine behave as if they were running on their own physical system. This is very useful for testing applications and allows testers to test their application under various platforms using a single computer. It can also be helpful for testing web applications since you can simultaneously test your web application in multiple browsers running independently from each other under different virtual machines, again, without the cost of purchasing more hardware for your testing needs.

Testing applications on virtual machines can have different purposes. You can use it for distributed testing of client-server applications, functional testing or in regression testing.

Besides virtual machines, you can also use cloud computers for application testing.


An Affordable, Stable, System Configuration for QA Testing

A computer system is a dynamic system and operating system configurations continuously change. Installing or updating software and hardware drivers happens frequently and installing different versions of an application affects the system’s internal structure, the registry and other crucial components that persuade testing results. While buying multiple computers to support various platforms is an option for some, it is often too expensive for most testing labs.

Since computer systems are ever changing, it causes a problem for QA testing. We cannot fully understand testing results when testing is performed on different configurations. In other words, if our application does not work properly, it is more difficult to determine the reason in a constantly changing system. Another problem is that it is difficult to test different application builds installed on a single operating system. It can cause conflicts and may even provoke system crashes.

Fortunately, virtual machines are a workaround for these problems and are a lot more cost effective. Once you have created and configured a virtual machine or a full lab of virtual machines, you will have a stable system configuration, which is very important when testing applications.


Virtual Testing Labs on a Single Computer

Virtual machines can work independently from each other on a single physical computer, creating a virtual testing lab on one computer. This is a huge benefit which is often used in QA testing.

For example, you can use one computer to test your application under Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7. In virtual labs, there is no need for three different computers to execute tests simultaneously; you can just sequentially execute tests on a single computer with three different virtual configurations. However, you may need a more powerful computer to run several virtual machines on one computer at once, but this is often cheaper than buying three physical computers.


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