Case Study

Testing Enterprise Middleware for Mobile Phone Service

Background

A large telecommunications firm offers mobile phone service as part of its service offering. Behind the service is an enterprise-level middleware implementation through which all administrative and billing functions pass. So, for example, new account creation, activation, equipment ordering, billing plans and billing transactions all flow through the middleware.

Some 15 front-end applications use services provided by the middleware, and all communications are conducted by XML over HTTP. There are over 300 types of XML conversations that can occur, with thousands of variations, and new messages are added regularly. Testing is currently done by “manual” submission of ad-hoc XML requests, followed by verification of response XMLs by eye. The software quality team needs a tool to automate the testing of these XML request/response pairs.

Challenges

How can a large volume of XML request/response pairs be tested efficiently against enterprise-level middleware services?

Strategy

Design and build a custom XML test messaging tool that allows selection of data, combinations of messages, and comparisons of response messages to bona fide response baselines.

Solution

  • RTTS built a customized messaging tool utilizing Microsoft HTTP components for response/request messaging of the middleware layer.
  • The messaging tool permits the user to set up sequences of messages, and to correlate the data between responses and downstream requests, so that the response to one request can be used as data in a follow-up request.

The tool also implements a data verification system, in which response messages are compared to a set of "gold-standard" baseline responses.

By the end of development, almost 400 types of XML messages were entered into the XML test messaging tool. This gives the software quality team the flexibility to design volume tests consisting of large numbers of messages, and to execute those tests every time a middleware component is released. In addition, it provides flexibility to add new messages, so that the tool message library can adapt to changes to the middleware.

Graph of Middleware Architecture Under Test

Benefits

  • Hours of error-prone work reduced to minutes.
  • The tool data verification functionality avoids the human error factor that inevitably occurs when XML is tested by eye.
  • Using a tool-based approach provides a standard library of properly customized messages to send into the middleware; the vagaries of ad-hoc testing are avoided. Broad testing coverage is attained for the multiple applications that use middleware services.

Industry

Telecommunications

Solution & Services

  • Custom Utilities
  • Enterprise Middleware Testing
  • Test Management

Tools

  • XML Test Messaging Tool
  • Microsoft HTTP

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