Masters students ace test with IBM SmartCloud service

Published on 06-May-2013

"The ability for students to work from any computer anywhere – from home or a café, at any hour of the day or night – gives them enormous flexibility in how and when they complete their assignments." - Simi Bajaj, Associate Lecturer, School of Computing, Engineering and Mathematics, University of Western Sydney

Customer:
University of Western Sydney

Industry:
Education

Deployment country:
Australia

IBM Business Partner:
TestPro

Overview

The University of Western Sydney is a culturally diverse tertiary institution spread across multiple campuses, with more than 2,500 staff and 40,000 students. Comprising schools, research institutes and research centres, the university provides a wide range of undergraduate, postgraduate and higher research degrees.

Business need:
TestPro approached the University of Western Sydney’s School of Computing, Engineering and Mathematics to include its TestPro Automation Framework (TAF) application in the faculty’s Test Automation course. It also sought to include IBM Rational Functional Tester in the university’s Master degree curriculum.

Solution:
TestPro proposed installing its TAF software on the IBM SmartCloud™ Enterprise – IBM’s enterprise-class public cloud infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) offering. This enabled students to access the enhanced testing product anywhere, at any time. Students were also given virtual access to the IBM® Rational® Functional Tester, an advanced, automated functional and regression testing tool for testers and graphical user interface developers.

Benefits:
• More flexible teaching • Enhanced learning • Quick and easy virtual installation • Increased security access • Robust environment

Case Study

The University of Western Sydney is a culturally diverse tertiary institution spread across multiple campuses, with more than 2,500 staff and 40,000 students. Comprising schools, research institutes and research centres, the university provides a wide range of undergraduate, postgraduate and higher research degrees.

The Challenge
Enhanced testing tool for students The University of Western Sydney’s School of Computing, Engineering and Mathematics runs a Master of Information and Communications Technology degree. The curriculum includes a third-semester (spring) subject on test automation using IBM Rational Functional tester and IBM Rational Performance Tester.

Independent software vendor TestPro approached the university’s computing school to introduce the company’s TestPro Automation Framework (TAF), with IBM’s Rational testing tools. TAF is an off-the-shelf product built to improve the efficiency, functionality and return on investment of software test automation.

“Since we were already teaching students about IBM Rational software, it made perfect sense to expand the curriculum to include a new testing platform built on the IBM software testing application,” says Simi Bajaj, Associate Lecturer, School of Computing, Engineering and Mathematics, University of Western Sydney.

“Anything that bolsters students’ knowledge and experience is going to be of benefit when they look for work in the IT industry.” In July 2011, TestPro proposed to provide the class of 14 students with a lecture on its TAF product. It also offered to lead tutorials in the software’s use in time for the school’s spring semester, beginning in September.

Importantly, the IT solutions provider needed to install its TAF platform in the computing school’s test labs so students could carry out practical assignment work. “It’s crucial that our students get their hands dirty with the product,” explains Bajaj. “It shows prospective employers they have had practical experience and can jump straight in.”

The Solution

IBM SmartCloud Enterprise the clever way to go
In October 2011, TestPro proposed using IBM SmartCloud Enterprise to host the TAF solution in the cloud, which would provide each of the 14 Master students with their own login and IP address.

“There was no need for students to come to the lab to do their practical work,” says Bajaj. “They could access what they needed for their practical assignment work wherever and whenever they wanted.”

IBM Global Technology Services, through its Academic Initiative, provisioned the virtual machine in the cloud. TestPro then installed and configured its TestPro Automation Framework 4.2.1 as well as a range of supporting software. This included Adobe Acrobat Reader, Microsoft WordPad, Java Work Bench V6 Update 27, MySQL Work bench 5.2CE, MySQL Server 5.1, Apache ANT 1.7 as well as IBM Rational Functional Tester 8.2.1.

The inclusion of IBM Rational Functional Tester also meant students had remote access to the curriculum’s core technology for the first time.

When the TAF installation and preparation were complete, IBM produced 14 instances of the master installation for each student. “The entire installation and replication process was completed and running smoothly in a few hours in a single day,” explains Bajaj.

The Benefits

Anytime, anywhere learning
By offering the TestPro Automation Framework through the IBM SmartCloud Enterprise, students can work from any PC and are not confined to a single lab. This is crucial for students’ practical assignment work, which is expected to be completed in their own time.

“The ability for students to work from any computer anywhere – from home or a café, at any hour of the day or night – gives them enormous flexibility in how and when they complete their assignments,” says Bajaj. “If they had been forced to do the same work in the university’s lab, it would have greatly restricted their chances to complete their practical work.

“More than this, if only a single computer in the university lab was available, students would have had access on a first-come, first-served basis, as there is no booking system in place for lab PCs.”

New learning opportunity
Installing the TAF application in the cloud means that IBM’s Rational Functional Tester product is also available to students virtually.

“Students now work on their core curriculum software – IBM’s Rational Functional Tester application – away from the lab, whether at home or someplace else when it suits them,” says Bajaj. “It enables the keener students to gain more hands-on experience.”

Moreover, students gained vital experience not only in using an enhanced testing product such as TAF, but also using tools in the cloud. According to Bajaj, “It is incredibly useful for students who are looking at a career in the software testing industry.”

Quick and easy delivery
From start to finish, the entire IBM–TestPro solution was up and running in a little more than a week. If the installation had taken place in the lab, it was likely to take at least a couple weeks, during which time the lab would not have been available to students.

“IBM took less than three hours to complete one installation and another three hours to copy that for each student,” explains Bajaj. “So what took less than a day would have taken several days if it had been done in the university lab.”
Greater security
With each student assigned their own login and IP address, other users are prevented from accessing their work. “When PCs are used by more than one person, as they are in the lab, they become vulnerable to security breaches,” says Bajaj.

“Lab PCs are not locked down. If TAF had been installed, any student could have potentially seen another student’s work. Now they have peace of mind that their work is secure.”

Robust environment
The IBM SmartCloud offering provides a stable and easily accessible environment. “It’s totally robust because we’re using a platform dedicated entirely to the TAF and IBM testing products, with nothing else running on it,” says Bajaj.

With the software now in a cloud environment, IBM or TestPro can immediately deal with and fix any technical issues remotely, rather than going on-site to the university – avoiding costly downtime.

Future plans
Bajaj says that the school may look at monitoring how students are using the cloud and for how long. “We’re teaching TAF through the IBM cloud application again, so this time we may take a closer look to see whether it has any measurable benefit to their final results,” she indicates.

Products and services used

IBM products and services that were used in this case study.

Software:
Rational Functional Tester

Service:
IBM SmartCloud Enterprise

Legal Information

© Copyright IBM Australia Limited 2013. ABN 79 000 024 733. © Copyright IBM Corporation 2013. All Rights Reserved. IBM, the IBM logo, ibm.com, SmartCloud and Rational are trademarks of IBM Corporation, registered in many jurisdictions worldwide. Other product and service names might be trademarks of IBM or other companies. A current list of IBM trademarks is available on the Web at www.ibm.com/legal/copytrade.shtml. This customer story is based on information provided by the University of Western Sydney and TestPro Pty Ltd and illustrates how these organisations use IBM products. Many factors have contributed to the results and benefits described. IBM does not guarantee comparable results elsewhere.