One of the most significant ways in which the rise of mobile phones and laptops has changed the business world is encouraging a tremendous increase in mobility. Not only are employees at many businesses able to telecommute more easily than ever before, folks traveling for business are able to stay connected so effectively that it can feel like they’ve never left the office at all. For obvious reasons, this makes life easier and more pleasant for a lot of folks, all while helping to make truly global enterprises more connected than ever. The cost of this increased freedom, however, is a subsequent increase in complexity for telco operators.
Though ensuring effective handovers for roaming service has long been part of the standard mobile operator toolkit, things get a little bit trickier when you’re trying to provide a whole host of mobile services on an enterprise level. Notably, service verification in particular becomes more complicated to orchestrate, due to the dispersed nature of the services being provided. Sure, you can easily make a few calls, send a few emails, and check a few SMS messages from some smart phones, but doing all of that in your test lab doesn’t actually replicated the field conditions that need testing. To ensure high quality of service (QoS) when groups of users are moving around internationally, testers need to think outside the box—and outside the local network.
Like we alluded to above, if the nature of your service is fairly dispersed, it means that you have to find a way to orchestrate dispersed testing, i.e. you need to be able to conduct tests that incorporate the mobility that’s at the heart of your service. If your seamless “roam like home” service isn’t really so seamless for travelers going around the EU, for instance, you won’t be able to figure that out without a test framework that spans countries or potentially continents. Obviously, this has the potential to present technological issues (e.g. standardizing your network equipment between test labs in different countries, performing signalling trace analyses to ensure that handovers are being performed correctly, etc.), but some of the biggest hurdles to verifying service effectively under these conditions will be operational, rather than technical.
When orchestrating tests across multiple countries and potentially across multiple organizations, you have to take steps to reduce the possibility of information and planning silos. Why? Because that might cause disconnect between the two locales, leading to incorrect tests. By the same token, you need to have a clear, shared picture of what use cases will be tested and what the criteria will be for passage and failure. If you’re testing QoS for voice calling across network boundaries, for instance, your testing partners outside the home network need to know that you’ll be looking at speech path analyses with an eye towards a particular set of conditions being met.
With an increasing number of test scenarios, increasing numbers of testers are feeling the impulse to automate. Here, though, automaton is made more complicated by the dispersed nature of the service. If, for instance, you control two smartphones with a test automation framework and you instruct those smartphones to send a text or make a call based on one of the use cases in your test library, you haven’t really tested the mobility of the services. Instead, you need to control those same devices, but route the tests through a second instance of the framework that’s being spun up in a different location (either by another test team within your organization or by a partner organization). Essentially, one instance will stand in as your home network while the other stands in for the user. Thus, you can see how your service plays out when users are operating outside the bounds of their home network.
Naturally, this approach helps you to validate roaming service for things like voice calling, but it’s also critical for voice interworking, SMS testing, and CLI fraud testing. Because there are added security risks that come with highly-mobile enterprise offerings, the ability to pinpoint potential vulnerabilities and decrease the risk of fraud is a crucial value driver for testers. Maintaining security is obviously a key concern for your business and your clients, so incorporating this kind of testing into your library of test cases is often mission critical.
Importantly, automating tests in this context isn't just a way of verifying service in a faster, more standardized manner. Rather, it’s also a way of gaining increased control over the testing process. Rather than an endless string of emails and slack messages trying to get alignment between two testing centers just so, the automated framework removes the guesswork by reducing the need for human intervention. In this way, a large library of executable test cases makes it easier than ever before to orchestrate a set of ongoing tests from a remote location. Just like your enterprise users, testers can essentially be two places at once.
Powering Up Your Mobility Strategy
Once you’ve automated service verification for enterprise offerings across multiple locations—thereby taking both technical and operational guesswork out of a test suite that poses real organizational complications—you put yourself in a sound position to drive added value for your business in other ways. Specifically, it puts you in a position to strengthen your relationships with your affiliate partners.
Because synergistic partner relationships depend on each partner’s ability to feel confident about the service being provided by the other, increasing the effectiveness with which you verify security and roaming for your mobile enterprise clients you can bolster that confidence for any potential affiliates. Not only that, but the comprehensive nature of automated tests for this use case also means that you can gain a more holistic overview of how your enterprise mobility strategy is playing out in practice. Based on this more complete view of your operations, you can begin to ask strategic questions about the best ways to develop and roll out future service offerings that will delight your partners and clients alike.