By Francis Chu  |  Posted 2005-07-25 Print this article Print

Companies looking for a comprehensive application testing management solution for Windows environments should check out Segue Software Inc.s SilkCentral Test Manager update. SilkCentral Test Manager 8.0 allows IT managers to optimize their quality assurance testing plans before actual deployment. In eWEEK Labs tests of SilkCentral Test Manager 8.0, which was released last month, we found the Web-based life-cycle management software offers impressive collaboration and usability features.

We discovered some quirks during installation due to the number of different modules and preinstallation requirements in SilkCentral Test Manager. Once we got it properly configured, however, the software effectively helped us organize and plan our testing projects.

SilkCentral Test Manager is one of the three main components in Segues Software Quality Optimization Platform, a solution that connects silos of testing processes and allows companies to centrally manage their test environment. The other two components in the Software Quality Optimization Platform are SilkCentral Issue Manager, which handles problem tracking and reporting, and SilkCentral Performance Manager, which monitors applications performance after they have been deployed.

SilkCentral Test Manager 8.0 is priced at $4,500 per server license. Segue also offers a $4,800 single-license bundle of Test Manager and Issue Manager, as well as a $10,650 functional bundle that includes Test Manager, Issue Manager and one license for Segue SilkTest. (Issue Manager has a stand-alone price of $750 per license. Pricing for a stand-alone edition of Performance Manager starts at $35,000 for 10 monitors.)

SilkCentral Test Manager 8.0 comes with Caucho Technology Inc.s Resin Web server, which hosts the Test Manager administration home page. The built-in Web server doesnt support HTTP Secure traffic, however, so larger sites should use Microsoft Corp.s IIS (Internet Information Services) to host the administration Web page. Test Manager supports IIS 5.0 or later.

The Web-based interface provides access to all the modules and collaboration tools within Test Manager, so developers and QA engineers can plan testing scenarios and create test projects, manage and enforce testing requirements, and document their projects within a single window.

Test Managers improved Web interface was easy to use in tests, and navigation was a cinch. Test Manager provides concise views of testing requirements and a variety of useful report graphs. Version 8.0 supports Internet Explorer 5.5 and later and The Mozilla Foundations Firefox 1.0.

We installed MSDE (Microsoft Data Engine) on our test machine to serve as Test Managers data repository. With a maximum of 2GB of storage, MSDE is large enough for smaller companies. For large-scale enterprise application-testing environments, SilkCentral also supports Microsoft SQL Server 2000 and Oracle Corp.s Oracle 9i and Oracle 10g. These larger-scale testing environments should also run the database repository on a separate machine from Test Manager for better performance.

Management of requirements is one of the most important steps when creating applications that meet customer demands. Test Manager enables testers to import testing requirements written in other tools, such as Microsoft Word and Excel, directly from the Test Managers Web interface.

In tests, before we could integrate the testing requirements saved in a Word document, we had to install the optional component SilkCentral Test Manager Office Import (which is included with the Test Manager installation CD but is not installed by default) and configure Word with the appropriate template. While both steps are fairly straightforward and easy to perform, it would be nice if the tool were integrated within Test Manager instead of being an optional component.

Test Manager integrates with SilkCentral Issue Manager, so users can track defects and problems within the same Web interface. The integration allows testing requirements to be traced to defects during testing, giving developers an easy way to resolve or reproduce problems found during the debugging process .

We also liked the automation features within Issue Manager, such as automatic e-mail notification, which allowed us to automatically send e-mail notifications of various events and issues, and automated workflow capabilities.

Test Manager can be installed on machines running Windows 2003, Windows XP, Windows 2000 or Windows NT SP5 or later. Readers should be aware of Segues Windows-centric approach, but it isnt a major limitation vis-à-vis the competition: Many competing testing platforms are also limited to Windows.

SilkCentral Test Manager competes with enterprise test management solutions such as Empirix Inc.s e-Manager Enterprise and Compuware Corp.s QADirector.

Click here to read a review of Compuwares QACenter Performance Edition 5.1. Integrated within Empirixs e-Test suite (pricing starts at about $30,000 for 100 users), e-Manager Enterprise provides modules similar to those found in Test Manager and, like Test Manager, provides a Web interface for all the tools.

As part of Compuwares QACenter Enterprise Edition (priced at $8,000 per concurrent user), QADirector handles test management. The latest version, 5.0, provides a portal for report sharing across different products. However, Test Manager has an edge with its third-party tool support and better overall module integration.

Next page: Evaluation Shortlist: Related Products.


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