For companies eager to upgrade to Windows 7, testing for application compatibility is crucial for a smooth deployment. But OS testing is a well-known IT time and resource drain that requires additional hardware and significant IT staff attention.
But for this Windows upgrade cycle, IT staffs have new choices at their disposal to save time and money.
Using virtualization software to test Windows 7 certainly can speed up the process and save on cost. Many IT groups do this using an in-house test and dev lab and using virtualized servers and VMware's Lab Manager software. Though this still requires some physical servers and IT staff, it's far more efficient than testing on unvirtualized servers.
But mortgage software company Ellie Mae is taking a different tack, becoming an early adopter of a cloud-based lab for testing Windows 7 from Seattle-based company Skytap.
Ellie Mae, based in Pleasanton, Calif., is not rolling out Windows 7 internally, but is nevertheless testing the OS to make sure that Ellie Mae's loan origination software, called Encompass, is compatible with Windows 7 for the company's clients, who are mostly mortgage brokers.
"It's pretty certain that some of our clients will be using Windows 7 quickly after Oct. 22.," says Ron Yun, Ellie Mae's Director of Quality Assurance.
Ellie Mae chose Skytap's cloud-based Virtual Lab SaaS (software as a service) application to deploy Windows 7 to its QA teams in Pleasanton and Beijing, China. Yun says that he runs a physical lab at Ellie Mae with 20 or so machines, but to test Windows 7 in a physical lab would have been too labor-intensive and expensive.
With Skytap's cloud-based lab, Yun can deploy as many Windows 7 virtual machines as he wants under a monthly subscription ($250 a month for 1,000 hours of testing).
"It's a big black box and I don't know what's going inside, but I do know that they make it very easy through the user interface to deploy virtual machines and modify the configurations," he says.
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