Playing Pretend: How to Keep Productivity Levels Up While Working From Home

tea-cup-laptop-apple-7360-scaled-e1585866114401-300x177 Playing Pretend: How to Keep Productivity Levels Up While Working From Home

When you are used to working from the office, staying home and trying to meet deadlines can prove to be a challenge sometimes. Various industries have been affected by COVID-19 in different ways, some more detrimental than others. We at Optimus are lucky to have the luxury of mobility; we can work from home. But when sitting alone on the couch, with no coworkers in sight, how can we stay focussed? We have a simple, yet absurd solution. Play pretend. 

Dress to Impress

Stay with us, we know how strange it may sound. But just as important as brushing your teeth and washing your face before working from home, we encourage you to get dressed up as if you were going into the office. Not only does it hit “refresh” in your mind for a new day, it puts you in the headspace of work, rather than lounging around. Dress as if you could be “Skyped by a potential client at any moment” says an article from The Guardian. It’s not just about having other people there to view you in professional attire, it is about taking the same time to respect yourself and get into the right frame of mind as you would on a regular workday. Keeping up your routine is key. 

Working From Home ≠ Working In Bed

“Why does that cause an issue? I should be fine working from bed! Shouldn’t I be comfortable while working?” Firstly, agreed. Don’t set yourself up in a sharp nook of your home and expect your finest work. But do remember: you’re not at the office. That itself creates chaos in what would otherwise be a smooth sailing ship. It’s hard to feel like working when you are sprawled out in bed, or laying out on the sofa. Just a suggestion, but we’ve found it helps to sit up straight and reside at a desk during work hours to encourage the same routine you would have had at the office. And speaking of routine, it leads us to our next tip: keeping a scheduled day including breaks and team calls (to keep your sanity and stay connected). 

Schedule Your Day

Not being in the office means a lack of people to bounce ideas off of, or grab a quick lunch with between meetings. But it doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice some of these privileges completely. Why not schedule your day around outcomes, coming up with a daily goal to hit? And by laying your day out, and scheduling in some breaks for yourself, shoot your coworkers a calendar invite for a 15-minute brainstorm session, or maybe even a working lunch. Just because you are at home, doesn’t mean you have to isolate yourself from the office community; stay connected! But while staying connected, remember to keep boundaries between your work and personal life. Getting stuck working all the time because you can’t “turn off” or not working at all because you are watching TV, is not productive either. 

Be Careful of Isolation

When staying home, especially if you live by yourself, it can get lonely sometimes. Just as it’s important to stay connected and integrated with your office community, staying in touch with family and friends is a surefire way to keep yourself from feeling isolated. Text, video call, and email those who are1 near to your heart, or maybe reach out to some old friends. 

Distractions 

Finally, when working from home, it’s easier than ever to get distracted. Along with following the tips above, we encourage you not to get too caught up with the news. Staying informed is always important, don’t get us wrong. Listening to trusted resources and turning your TV on is good, but we would suggest not having the news channel on 24/7. Not only does it take away from your mindshare, it also may create a worrying atmosphere considering the state of the globe today: not conducive to a working environment. 

This pandemic has affected everyone, and we hope that you are staying home and healthy. But while staying home, we hope that these tips will help keep your productivity levels on the rise, without compromising your working environment.

The Ultimate Guide to an Optimus Intern

Intern-Focus-300x143 The Ultimate Guide to an Optimus Intern

Optimus Information offers an incredible internship program for software engineers unlike any other. Everybody at Optimus holds interns to the highest standard. There is no spoon-feeding or babysitting in the office. This 6-month program teaches interns the ins and outs of a variety of software and exposes them to experienced professionals. Along with technical skills, interns will build their soft skills through mentor-mentee interactions, team huddles, and extracurricular activities.

Since Optimus Information is a global company, applying for an intern position can be fairly intimidating. Those who want to learn from Optimus need to be motivated, resilient, and ambitious. The company seeks out individuals who are willing to increase their intellectual capital, eager to step into a self-led role, and ready to tackle all challenges that may come their way. 

From the perspective of current interns, we hope to share some insight on how to stand out and lay a strong foundation for an amazing, successful career with Optimus Information. Although we are not pursuing the usual software internship, we have the inside knowledge as HR interns. We have compiled a list of “Do’s and Don’ts” that will hopefully help those who are potentially looking to pursue a career with Optimus.

HR Interview

1-300x300 The Ultimate Guide to an Optimus InternAlthough Optimus Information is a software company, your transcript, and coding knowledge are not the only fundamentals that will get you an offer letter. The perfect candidate for Optimus is someone who exerts confident energy and has a good understanding of social cues. During the first HR interview, your interviewer will be evaluating you on your personality and your demeanor. Based on how you present yourself and your communication skills, your interviewer will determine if you are the right fit for the company. If you can successfully impress your interviewer, you will proceed to the second round of interviews where you can demonstrate your technical abilities.

DO review your CV.

If you 2-300x300 The Ultimate Guide to an Optimus Internhave double-checked your CV, triple-check it. The way your CV is laid out will tell a lot about your character before the interviewer even meets you in person. Ensure that there are no spelling or grammatical errors and that everything on your CV is accurate and up to date. Your interviewer will ask questions based on what you have written on your CV. For example, if you added “skills in C++”, don’t be surprised when the interviewer asks you to discuss concepts and theories behind the language.

DO dress to impress.3-300x300 The Ultimate Guide to an Optimus Intern

First impressions are the most important component of any interview. Show the interviewer that you want the position before you introduce yourself. An interviewer will respect those who put effort into the way that they present themselves. Let the interviewer know that you are a professional who cares.

DO respect your interviewer.9-300x300 The Ultimate Guide to an Optimus Intern

Wait for your interviewer to ask you to grab a seat before sitting down. This minuscule detail will show the interviewer that you understand respect, as it is a huge component to succeeding in the corporate world. Be polite and confident.

DO speak in English.

4-300x300 The Ultimate Guide to an Optimus InternAs Optimus is a global company (with its headquarters in Vancouver, Canada), you will be dealing with overseas clients. English will be the primary language that you will communicate. Prove to your interviewer that you can communicate well in English. Freshen up your grammar and sentence structures prior to your interview to ensure fluidity and accuracy in your speech.

DO NOT be too nervous.

Your interviewer is trying to learn more about you.5-300x300 The Ultimate Guide to an Optimus Intern They want you to sell yourself to them and demonstrate your incredible personality. Although it will feel intimidating, know that they are there to help you achieve your goals. Non-verbal communication can tell a lot about somebody’s character so keep a mental note on your body language. Listen to what the interviewer asks and answer it to the best of your ability. Avoid losing your train of thought due to your nerves. Be confident and proud of who you are. Show them what you are capable of.

Bonus: Congratulations! You passed the interview. Here are some tips to help you become and remain a successful Optimus intern.

The Optimus software internship is not a walk in the park. You will be working from 8 AM to 8 PM Monday to Saturday for 6-months. Be prepared to work hard and learn a lot. Since this is a challenging program, only the goal-oriented, ambitious-driven, and strong-minded individuals will be successful. Luckily for you, we have the tips to help you stay on top and remain optimistic.

DO communicate with your mentors and buddies.

6-300x300 The Ultimate Guide to an Optimus InternYour mentors and buddies are there to help you transition from college life to corporate life. They are there to help you with professional and personal issues so do not be afraid to reach out. Most of the mentors and buddies at Optimus were past interns who have already experienced the Optimus internship. All you need to do is ask for advice and your buddies will definitely be there to help.

DO stay positive.7-300x300 The Ultimate Guide to an Optimus Intern

If you ever feel stressed or overworked, just remember the end goal. Keep pushing forward and do your best. Know that you have your team of interns throughout the next 6 months who are experiencing the same ups and downs as you. Keep each other accountable and motivate each other to push on.

DO NOT rely solely on somebody else.8-300x300 The Ultimate Guide to an Optimus Intern

One of the Optimus Values is to be self-led. You will learn to tackle challenges and obstacles on your own. It is okay to ask for help but do not rely on someone else to have the answers to all of your problems. Self-reliance will be a key learning takeaway from this internship.

DO NOT be afraid to take initiative.

10-300x300 The Ultimate Guide to an Optimus InternHaving an entrepreneurial spirit at Optimus is highly praised. If you find an opportunity, take it. Pitch your ideas to your mentors or supervisors and take initiative. Learn from others and implement these skills to your own work.

Optimus Information emphasizes on high intellectual capital. Many people may feel like the internship program pushes them to their limits but those who complete the program remain on top compared to their colleagues. Good luck to all future candidates.

 

4 Tips to Prevent “Run-Away” Azure Costs

Imagine you return to the office on Monday morning and discover a mysterious spike in your Azure consumption. You are now significantly over your monthly budget. As you feel a headache forming, you ask yourself: “Wasn’t moving to the cloud supposed to reduce spending?”

Here are 4 easy and basic actions you can take to prevent a run-away Azure cost incident.

1. Delete or deactivate unused resources

According to Microsoft, “The challenge with cloud computing is that once you flip the switch on, the meter keeps running until you switch it off” (Aleenah Ansari). You don’t leave the heat on when you take a weekend trip. So, why would you pay for unused resources in the cloud? Part of optimizing for cloud is deleting all unused resources so you are not unknowingly incurring cost on an unused resource that is still active. If the resource needs to be kept, place the resource in a free or low-cost configuration (for example, a dev or test configuration which automatically starts at a lower price tier). 

Read this article to learn more about how to optimize your cloud investment with Azure Cost Management.

2. Create subscription budgets and alerts

Just like managing your own personal finances, you can set limits for your Azure budget. Microsoft  Azure allows you to set alerts and thresholds to monitor your budget based on cost or usage. You can even set up an automatic trigger when a given budget threshold is reached. For example, you can notify operations staff, trigger VMs to shut down, or you can move your infrastructure to a different pricing tier when you hit a certain budget.

As a best practice, it is important to review your budget regularly to see how much you have spent and to make proactive changes if needed. Use this tutorial to create and manage Azure budgets.

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Based on the fields chosen in the budget a graph is shown to help you select a threshold to use for your budget.

3. Use management groups to roll-up observation across all subscriptions

Modern TV streaming services give you parental controls to easily see who’s watching what and manage who should be allowed to watch what. Azure offers a similar feature to easily and efficiently manage multiple subscriptions within your organization. Azure management groups allow you to manage access, policies, and compliance of those subscriptions by providing a level of scope above subscriptions.  

Once you have organized your subscriptions into containers called ‘management groups’, you can apply your governance conditions to all your subscriptions in that management group. Note: All subscriptions within a single management group must trust the same Azure Active Directory tenant. However, once they do, the costs from individual subscriptions can also be rolled up to the containing management group, allowing for convenient budget monitoring and alerting across multiple subscriptions.

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Azure management group hierarchy.

4. Improve system monitoring, alerts, and notifications

Your smartwatch counts your steps, monitors your sleep habits, and notifies you when you’ve been sitting too long. Wouldn’t it be nice if you received similar alerts about your Azure account? Using tools like Azure Monitor and Application Insights can help you understand how your applications are performing and can even proactively identify issues affecting them and the resources they depend on.

Azure Monitor can be used to monitor the availability, performance, and usage of your web applications. Alerts in Azure Monitor also notify you of critical conditions by sending a text or email to an administrator responsible for investigating an issue. Alerts can also attempt to take corrective action, such as launching an automated process that attempts to correct an error condition.

Azure_Monitor-1030x567 4 Tips to Prevent “Run-Away” Azure Costs

A high-level view of Azure Monitor.

Managing a cloud tenant can have unexpected challenges. However, using these features from Azure will help you maximize your cloud infrastructure without extending your budget. Reach out to us if you want to learn more about optimizing your Azure infrastructure.

 

All product names, trademarks and registered trademarks are property of their respective owners.

Corporate Social Responsibility at Optimus

What Community Service Means to Optimus:

It’s undisputed that giving back is a core connector in large communities and companies. At Optimus, contributing time and funding to various causes in society is something that brings us all together, reigniting our humanity. Especially in a large company like ours, corporate social responsibility through is especially important and we find that community service keeps us humble and grounded. For both the Vancouver and Noida offices, philanthropy is of the utmost importance; we want to make connections and see how we can make an impact. To us, community service isn’t just giving donations. We take the time to hone in on how we can make a difference to the communities surrounding ours. 

How We Choose to Give Back in 2019:

We believe that giving back to local communities is crucial in establishing tangible change. In Vancouver, we have focused on helping those in close vicinity to the office by creating small yet meaningful movements. In the fall, we gathered together in Oppenheimer Park, a recent safe place and home to many homeless citizens. A group of volunteers from our team spent a Saturday afternoon handing out hot samosas in this area of the Downtown Eastside. On that day alone, we estimate that we served close to 500 individuals.

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Vancouver CSR Team in Oppenheimer Park

In 2019, we also had a sandwich fundraiser to raise money for the Zajac Ranch for Children. A summer camp that provides fun experiences for children with disabilities, Zajac Ranch makes accessibility their top priority; medical conditions don’t hold back the children from enjoying the full potential to just be kids. Optimus and Enkel, our sister company, had volunteered to match the given donations dollar for dollar. We organized a sandwich fundraiser and collected personal donations from the staff which were matched by the company. Furthermore, we plan to organize a volunteer day and visit the camp later this year. 

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Vancouver Team putting collected items together for donation bags

Aligned Global Contributions:

During the harsh winter months, both the Vancouver and Noida offices contributed winter bundles to local communities. The Vancouver bundles included toques, gloves, socks, toothbrush/toothpaste, and a snack. In India with cold temperatures, the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Team collected blankets and clothing to donate to Uday Foundation, which provides shelter for women and children undergoing medical treatment. Over the past year, in Noida, we also worked closely with the Smile Foundation, which has an initiative for every child to attend school. Currently, they have 30,000+ children across 27 states in India attending school through Mission Education Projects. Optimus Information’s Power of 10 Initiative provided to this organization. In addition, visits and drives occurred to local charities. 

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CSR Team in Noida visiting Uday Foundation

In July and November, team members from Optimus visited children at Deepalaya. This organization is focused on identifying economically and socially deprived children to help them become educated and skilled. We gathered our resources and were able to donate stationery as well as computers. We celebrated Children’s Day on November 14th at Deepalaya, by bringing the children lunch and continuing to encourage them on their path to higher education. By picking different organizations throughout the year, we hope to make an impact for various communities of people around us in both Canada and India. 

Where We Want to Be Helping in the Future:

Optimus is deeply passionate about making a difference in the local community. Our company has launched an initiative in 2020 to reach a goal of 5,000 volunteer hours collectively in both the Vancouver and Noida office. Moreover, our efforts will be mirrored with a concentration on education, healthcare and environmental conservation. 

Looking ahead into the new year, the CSR Team continues to engage with local NGOs. By circulating a survey to employees on what socio-economic issues are important to them, we are able to focus on issues that have a personal impact as well. Our unified efforts are primarily focused on education, as we believe it is the path to empowerment.

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Spending time on Children’s Day in India with the Deepalaya organization

Through company collaboration, we are able to put our best collective efforts forward. Feedback from our employees to focus our efforts on upcoming corporate social responsibility activities include organizing backpacks to give to those less fortunate, stocked with basic necessities. We continuously donate at a blood drive and intend to carry on doing so. We feel that in order to truly make a difference, you must donate your time not just your money. Connecting on a deeper level is always the core purpose behind our philanthropic initiatives. To give our time is what matters most to us. We hope to truly make a difference in whatever way we can. 

 

The Optimus Family: Interning in Noida

From the moment we stepped on to the plane, there was always a looming fear of “will I fit in?” It was extremely intimidating to embark on a journey that we were both unfamiliar with. We knew that we would stand out and feel somewhat alone. However, what we thought we knew couldn’t be further from actuality as soon as we stepped off the plane.  

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Optimus’ Company Culture

 

MVS-300x175 The Optimus Family: Interning in Noida

You will always finding smiling faces on the floor.

The Noida office emphasizes the importance of developing a strong family and friend culture. When you start your first day at Optimus, you are not just a number in the system; You are a part of the Optimus family. Every morning, a friend will come to your workstation and invite you for coffee or tea. At first, we thought this was a “Welcome to Noida” initiation. However, this is just a standard, friendly gesture that we see each day; three weeks later, the hospitality remains the same. Every day, they share breakfast, gather over lunch, and cultivate a work environment of high productivity and creativity.

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Post-lunch at an amazing South Indian restaurant with Sarthak, Olivia’s supervisor, and his team.

It is difficult to contextualize the feeling of working at Optimus through word; to truly understand, you can synthesize by imagining having a fantastic day with a group of your closest friends. To add to the fun, everybody always shares new and exciting findings to help boost the community goal of continuous learning. This environment leads to a heightened vocation, where you want to engage with more colleagues, join in on the Fun Friday Activities, and get the most out of what the job has to offer. This company culture is the foundation for building meaningful careers.

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The team shares some laughs during a weekly 4:32 knowledge session.

To summarize, we may look different, we may sound different, and we may tolerate spices differently, but everybody from the office accepts us for who we are. So, do we fit in? In short, we don’t. However, in an organization that promotes individuality and self-leadership, fitting in is not a primary concern. Our main goal is to feel like we belong. Luckily for us, we have never felt more at home. 

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A quick click with Ruchi, Laura’s supervisor, in our kurtas on Republic Day.

  • Laura and Olivia

Technology is Becoming the Core to Every Business

By Goran Kimovski, SVP Global Customer Solutions (Onica)

For many decades, technology businesses were considered a separate industry sector. These were typically companies whose revenue was dependant on developing technology-based products and selling those products to other businesses. The majority of other businesses were relegated to the role of technology consumers. Wanting to reduce their technology budgets, these technology consumers focused on minimizing their technology costs by standardizing their business processes and tools. This approach worked for a while, since everyone in their industry and market were in the same race. However, with the advent of ubiquitous technology – in the form of cloud services, mobile and edge devices – a new wave of companies emerged. These new companies shifted technology from the periphery to the core of their business model.149 Technology is Becoming the Core to Every Business

Technology Became the Differentiator

New businesses in sectors ranging from healthcare to transportation to financial services were able to compete and steal market share from existing businesses. We started using terms like fintech, healthtech, and transportation as a service to differentiate these businesses from the respective industry sector they were competing within. They almost always looked more like technology companies based on their R&D budget and technology innovation. This new wave of hybrid startups has attracted tons of investments across the globe.

Many traditional businesses have changed their direction to keep up with the competition. They had to take advantage of the same trends in cloud, mobile, and edge, to start catching up to (or in some cases outperform) their new competitors. These traditional businesses have recognized that these new businesses are using technology to differentiate themselves and grabbing market share from them. Some have been able to successfully change their direction and take their competition. Many found new solutions for their customers by partnering with these new vendors. Some have decided to acquire these businesses and bring them into the core of their operations. This effectively started a transformation towards becoming more and more technology oriented.

What Drives This Process?

Several technology innovations:

  1. Open and fast internet access
  2. Adoption of mobile in every aspect of our business and professional lives
  3. Extensive processing and sensor technology being built in every device
  4. Low cost and easy access to large computing power in the form of cloud

Screen-Shot-2019-05-14-at-11.14.03-AM Technology is Becoming the Core to Every Business

These innovations have converged and democratized access to technology. This enabled new business models like “everything as a service” to thrive. As businesses adopt more technology, they create a greater wealth of data and many new integration possibilities.

In turn, this drives innovation to:

  1. Make sense of all the data
  2. Help businesses drive better decisions and optimize the user experience
  3. Offer new ways for users to obtain services from their business
  4. Create additional revenue generating opportunities uniquely enabled by technology

What Does this Mean for Your Business?

If you’re not already on the path of transforming towards a technology-centric future, now is the best time to start.

This is how you can begin:

  1. Starting the Discussion
    Initiating discussions with your leadership (or, if you’re an executive, by leading such discussions) about making an initial investment.
  2. Create a Team
    Empower a small team to start experimenting with technology and exploring how to solve current business challenges in a different way using cloud-based or related technologies. It is critical that you truly empower the team to try different technologies. Give them a budget and authority for creating a sandbox with enough guardrails and support from your IT and security teams to enable them to safely run experiments fast. It is equally critical to hold them accountable for their learning and sharing the results of their experiments. Therefore, you can build a roadmap for transforming your business through the use of technology and get wider support from the organization to continue further investments.

If you’ve started the transformation and feel overwhelmed, you’re not alone. The technology driving the trends discussed here is largely developed for builders. These are companies that employ engineers and others that have the skill and know-how to build solutions from various technology components. However, many of the businesses outside the technology sector employ people that are good at customizing and managing solutions who don’t have the capacity to maintain their existing technology stacks.

Learning the New Model

Customization, integration, and maintenance is commonly outsourced to professional services or managed services firms. In addition, most of those firms are too invested in their existing technology platforms and unable to move as fast as their customers who feel the pressure of the market. They need to adopt new technologies faster than their vendors can. This leaves room for a new kind of service firms (Optimus Information and Onica included) that have been born in the new technology-centric world. These new service firms are not constrained by old business models or large numbers of customers with support agreements that keep their staff working with outdated technologies. These companies are more than happy to share the best practices they have developed over the years working with early adopters of technologies like cloud, IoT, serverless, Big Data, Machine Learning, etc. Larger enterprises are also great examples of this new model. Many have already started their journeys and have been relying on those new technology-centric services organizations to help.

Technology Transformation Trend

It is somewhat useful to think of all of these trends as enabling a transformation towards technology-enabled businesses. However, in my 6+ years offering cloud consulting and managed services in Canada and the US, I have often seen this trend of technology becoming central to the business. These businesses are on the path to becoming or have already become technology-centric; and many aspects of their organizations have been transforming to support that. I expect this trend to continue over the next 10 years. I predict that we will find ourselves in a world where almost every business will become technology-centric.

Automated Testing on Azure DevOps

If you are looking for automated testing for any of your applications and would like to integrate it with your Azure DevOps infrastructure, Optimus Information has a “ready to deploy” Test Automation solution for you.

Our Azure DevOps based test automation solution uses the latest Azure CI/CD features and offers the following functionalities:

1. Configure automated test cycles using Azure DevOps

2. Schedule and execute Web UI and REST API test scripts on cloud using Azure VMs

    • Self-serviced virtual machines and PaaS resources for testing using Azure DevTest labs
    • Supports automated test scripts developed in Java or C# using Selenium WebDriver, REST Assured and RestSharp

    3. Distribution of apps to beta testers and your collaborators with Azure App Center

      • Selection from a large variety of test devices using the App Center Test Cloud
      • Supports popular frameworks like Xamarin.UITest, Appium, XCUI Test etc.

      4. Test result reporting and logging with screen shots and 6 month data retention with App Center

        • Support for notification over mail or other communication tools like Slack

        5. Data persistence support using AzureSQL service

        6. Integration with PowerBI Embedded for reporting and analytics

        7. Built in test script source code management using Azure DevOps

          • Supports integration with third party Git providers like Github if required

          8. Built in test case management for test plans using Azure Test Plans

            • Custom integration possible with other tools like TestLink where supported

            9. Concurrent execution

            10. Ability to start automated testing in short time frame with expense control

            Cloud is important to our customers. The Optimus test automation framework on Azure makes it possible for our customers to seamlessly integrate test automation into their cloud-based development as well as their test and production environments. Contact us to get a more in-depth look to to get a demonstration.

            Automated-Testing-Solution-on-Azure-2-e1554082144564 Automated Testing on Azure DevOps
            All product and company names are trademarks™ or registered® trademarks of their respective holders. Use of them does not imply any affiliation with or endorsement by them.

            Types of Performance Testing and the Best Tools for the Job

            In the abstract, it’s easy to think of testing a piece of software as a single set of actions. Within the industry, however, it has become common practice to look upon performance testing as a multifaceted task. The process includes:

            • Load testing
            • Stress testing
            • Endurance testing
            • Scalability testing
            • Volume testing
            • Spike testing

            Each phase has its distinct requirements and goals, and it’s important to be aware of them before moving ahead with a project. Likewise, it’s prudent to know which tools and processes are most suited to the job.

            Load Testing

            Load testing is intended to look at performance under two sets of conditions, normal and peak loads. An organization needs to model what it feels is likely to be normal usage of software. For example, a cloud-based photo storage system might expect to handle a certain load during particular parts of the year. Conversely, specific annual increases, such as during the holidays, would also need to be anticipated.

            The aim of load testing is not to overload the system. This can be done by using software to create virtual users and have them interact with the software. The goal is to see what performance looks like when an expected load is regularly hitting the system. Bottlenecks have to be identified, and notes need to be passed along to developers to see what can be done.

            Stress Testing

            Taking things to the next logical step, we arrive at stress testing. This is a deliberately intense process that’s intended to find out where the breaking points of operational capacity are. It should only be conducted once reasonable load testing efforts have been made and remedies have been implemented during that stage.

            The objective is to identify safe usage limits, and it’s particularly important to spot vulnerabilities that may be triggered when the system is operating under stress. If a database implementation suffers a buffer overrun during excessive loads, it’s good to know that in advance.

            Endurance Testing

            It may seem a fine distinction to make, but the question of how a piece of software will hold up over a long period of load is important. Anyone who has ever watched a desktop program’s memory usage balloon over the course of several hours of normal use can appreciate the difference. Just as issues often occur when a system is overwhelmed during a peak test, similar problems may begin appear only after a prolonged run of normal usage.

            Scalability Testing

            Maintaining any project over the course of years will present issues as the user base grows. This calls for a degree of guess work, as you’ll find yourself often trying to determine how 1,000 users today might grow out over five years. This can lead to unanticipated failures, if not addressed early on in a non-functional environment. No one wants to see a production database run out of space for entries because the index was built using INT11 and the system ran out of assignable unique IDs.

            Volume Testing

            The throughput of any user base is likely to grow as the popularity of a product increases. To get ahead of these problems, it’s also wise to perform volume testing. The goal in this case is to identify where problems might exist based on the volume of usage. For example, read-write issues with critical interface files, such as settings stored in XML, may create volume limits that can be adjusted by minor tweaks.

            Spike Testing

            Sudden increases and drops in usage can lead to issues that are difficult to predict. If an entire block of internet addresses loses connectivity, a high-volume site might experience a dropoff that’s both massive and instantaneous. These interruptions may even occur mid-operation. Spike testing allows you to identify specific potential issues and see the system fails elegantly.

            Moving to Performance Testing

            Devising a way to engage in testing while developers are still working on a specific generation of software takes a lot of planning. A lot of companies are turning to Agile methodologies in order to handle their testing needs. The goal with Agile processes is to see that orderly efforts are made to advance products into testing, make notes of issues, implement changes and confirm completion of work.

            Software performance testing work tends to call for a large degree of automation, and it’s wise to keep this in mind when choosing what to use. Many software development environments, such as the Enterprise editions of Microsoft Visual Studio, come with their own performance testing components. Those looking for an open source solution designed for web applications might wish to check out Apache JMeter. IBM Rational Performance Tester and HP LoadRunner are also popular choices for Licensed solutions.

            There are several questions to look at. For example, JMeter, by virtue of being open source, doesn’t offer the same sort of scalability that the Visual Studio tools do, especially in terms of being able to buy more virtual users instances in order to keep loading up. If you’re looking for a system that offers cloud-based solutions and simple Agile integration, IBM Rational Performance Tester is a solid option.

             

            If you have questions about getting started with Performance Testing or want to push the toolset further, give us a call. We’re always happy to answer any questions.

            VanQ Meetup: The Telus Story of Transition to Agile

            images-3 VanQ Meetup: The Telus Story of Transition to Agile

            VanQ recently came together to hear Telus’ Hugo Sampaio talk about the transformation the company went through while transitioning from the classic waterfall to the agile method of testing and development.

            Some Key Takeaways

            Agile means different things to different people, and because of this lack of structured definition, it is difficult to implement. Often companies adopt a few agile characteristics to their basic waterfall model and convince themselves that they have gone agile. When large organizations decide to adopt agile as their development philosophy, the first thing they need to do is choose a metric that will define their agile development. The metric Telus chose, and recommends, is velocity. For a large organization, especially, velocity ends up being an important metric since it has to battle a lot of inflexibility and inertia from within the organization. The other important metric is quality, because you cannot have fast development that isn’t up to par with industry standards. You have to consider business interactions and portfolio management as markers for progress.

            Top Impediments Against Agile

            There can be a lot of inertia in a large organization revolving around the transition to agile. Typically, one of the main roadblocks is pre-existing company culture. A large organization is reluctant towards change, and when the change is as massive as completely restructuring the development philosophy, there is bound to be a bit of friction. The other impediments include lack of tools and funding, technical debt, and lack of competition in the marketplace. Adding to this is the trouble of training or hiring new resources and personnel. All these factors contribute to a reluctance towards transition to agile.

            Where to employ agile

            Telus made a clear distinction between areas, breaking them down by different degrees of agile methodology to be applied. The standalone areas are the ones where the transition is not only beneficial, but a natural consequence of adopting agile. These are completely new areas of development within the organization. The ‘integrated but new’ areas are those that you’ll commonly notice a little more of that opposition to agile, but are still top contenders for transition. The ‘old, integrated but recent technology’ takes a bit more effort for agile transition. For a large organization, a reachable goal would be approximately 80% transition to agile in two years. Hugo advises not to even touch the so-called ‘legacy’ areas of an organization.

            Things to consider

            Tools

            The most important thing to consider is that there is no perfect tool. An ideal deployment involves multiple tools that the organization feels comfortable with using simultaneously. Make sure a development manager tool is used to oversee the procedures.

            Resources

            In the case of Telus, agile deployment was delegated to one test architect who worked as an overall project manager and liaison between various teams. They kept a 15-85 ratio between onshore and offshore personnel, with a near shore team stationed in mexico.

            Standards/Processes

            Again, the ultimate metric for progress was velocity. Adopting agile for functional testing is a comparatively trivial matter that involves defining test cases and automation. As opposed to that, agile development strategy, performance and structural testing requires a more creative approach towards service virtualization.

            The Process

            The approach towards agile at Telus involved scrum teams working on unit testing which was then consolidated to systems testing where the user stories were considered. The next step was system integration testing where the feature/application was involved and finally during performance/integration testing, end to end business transitions were completed. The marker for the next step was 80% code completion.

            Conclusion

            Hugo gave us some valuable pieces of advice for companies looking to transition to agile:

            • Be selective about applications

            • Set strong standards for tools and processes

            • Automate as much as you can.

            • You will still have to integrate waterfall somewhere.

            • Focus on performance testing rather than functional testing.

            • No process is perfect. Learn, try continuously.

            Get in touch with OptimusQA to know more about transition to agile. For large industries, agile transition can be a cumbersome process if done inefficiently. With OptimusQA you can get the right help to make your transition a success.

            What is Context Driven Testing?

            The software testing community loves a good fight and nothing illustrates that better than all of the words spilled over context-driven testing.

            What is context driven testing?

            Context driven testing advocates contend that “the value of any practice depends on its context.” Stated so simply, it seems impossible to disagree with.

            Of course the value of your testing practices depend on the context.

            You don’t load test a mobile app that runs  on the device completely independent of any web services because you can’t by definition have more than a load of one. Running separate load tests in this example is a pointless waste of time.

            The context-driven testing school is best represented in the book Lessons Learned in Software Testing which served as the impetus for creating the context-driven school.

            Why then is context driven testing controversial?

            The key word is practice. When you start messing with practices, you start messing with best practices. That means you are messing with people’s ability to go about work without actually thinking about what they are doing and, even more heinous, is taking away a crutch from vendors who can point to best practices when saying how awesome their product is.