Test Lab Automation for Business Continuity in the Time of COVID-19


With COVID-19-related shelter-in-place orders in effect in nearly every corner of the world, the high-tech industry is coming to grips with new ways of working in the shadow of a pandemic. Will this be the norm going forward? We certainly hope not, but there is no doubt that, going forward, Business Continuity Plans (BCP) need to expand to include the pandemic scenario and this will likely mean that test lab automation will become a part of these plans.

For many of us, this means working from home using email, PC- or SaaS-based productivity applications and collaboration tools like Zoom or Webex. However, for those that run test labs for functional, regression and performance testing, the situation is not as straightforward. The typical network, security, or mobile test lab environment will have multiple devices under test (DUT), along with multiple testing tools and different test cases that require reconfiguration of the layer 1 topology that interconnects all of these elements. In the majority of labs today, this is done manually, requiring one or more test engineers to be physically present to recable and reconfigure the lab and, often, to execute some of the tests. When events conspire to prevent these test engineers from physically entering the lab, new software releases, products and services might be delayed, resulting in revenue impacts and missed customer expectations.


Pluribus Test Lab Automation

This is exactly where Pluribus Networks’ VirtualWire technology for test lab automation can help. Pluribus VirtualWire is a software-defined, flexible and highly-scalable non-blocking layer 1 switching matrix that can be managed remotely 24/7 from anywhere in the world. The solution is powered by the Pluribus Netvisor® ONE OS and is unique in that it uses very cost-effective, high-performance open networking Ethernet switches, instead of expensive proprietary layer 1 switches. The installation of VirtualWire is straightforward and, once deployed, all DUTs and test tools are connected to the fabric and the layer 1 topology is now under software control. The lab is effectively cabled once and can now be dynamically reconfigured in software from anywhere in the world via the Pluribus UNUM management platform, REST APIs, CLI or with orchestration partners like Quali.

Test Lab Automation

Benefits of Deploying VirtualWire

The value doesn’t stop at business continuity, however – there are a number of other important benefits that come from deploying the VirtualWire Fabric:

  • Engineers conserve time, maximize productivity, reduce costs and eliminate errors associated with manual patching, thus accelerating the release of new products and services.
  • VirtualWire can be deployed inside a single lab or across multiple, geographically dispersed locations, unifying disparate lab sites and processes.
  • Expensive test generator ports can be easily shared between teams and tests, even across multiple sites, improving utilization and increasing ROI.
  • Users can reduce testing time by storing well-known physical configurations and reproducing the configurations at will for subsequent testing.
  • The solution provides fabric-wide flow, packet, link-layer visibility to accelerate troubleshooting of physical layer issues as well as applications.
  • Unlike rigid and expensive layer 1 switches, media and port speed conversion is available, such as copper<>fiber and 10G<>Nx1G for complete flexibility.

Enabling test lab automation with VirtualWire provides an organization with the opportunity to test devices, applications and services faster, and to establish 24/7 operations from anywhere in the world. Test lab automation can ensure business continuity and also greatly accelerate test procedures such as regression testing and performance tests.

To learn more above VirtualWire visit our Test Lab Automation solution webpage,contact us here, or watch this webinar replay to get an overview and demo of our highly innovative approach to test lab automation.


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About the Author

Mike Capuano

Mike Capuano

Mike is Chief Marketing Officer of Pluribus Networks. Mike has over 20 years of marketing, product management and business development experience in the networking industry. Prior to joining Pluribus, Mike was VP of Global Marketing at Infinera, where he built a world class marketing team and helped drive revenue from $400M to over $800M. Prior to Infinera, Mike led product marketing across Cisco’s $6B service provider routing, switching and optical portfolio and launched iconic products such as the CRS and ASR routers. He has also held senior positions at Juniper Networks, Pacific Broadband and Motorola.