Background:

This case study will focus on Innovative Defense Technologies’ application of  automated software testing to shipboard installation procedures for network testing.  The ships featured in this case study contain a complex network of subsystems.  These subsystems are tightly coupled, requiring high availability and low network timing tolerances.  The subsystems must be integrated and then delivered on the ship.  The network is required to be stable and reliable.

Current manual testing process is conducted in two phases.  First is the connectivity test and second is the network timing test.  The operator starts with a list of over one hundred subsystem IP’s in which to test.  The operator sends a message (e.g. ‘ping’ command) to each IP.  If the message returns successfully, a second operator, located at the network switch, manually pulls the cable from the network switch associated with the IP just tested, then the ‘ping’ command is sent again to verify ‘link down’ state.  The cable is then placed back into the switch and verified for connectivity.  After all IP’s have been tested for connectivity, a network timing tolerance test is performed by the operator.  Here each IP is sent ‘ping’ test again and response time is measured. The overall manual network test takes several days to fully complete.   It is critical to have the capability to integrate, test, and install the network efficiently to provide timely capability improvements to the ships.

Strategy/Approach:

The automated test strategy focused on identifying the specific requirements of automating the execution and verification steps of the existing shipboard network test.  As described above, the test includes steps that require the user to enter information on system consoles and at the command line, as well as, verify responses at both the command line and on one or more consoles. Automated Test and ReTest (ATRT) capabilities support both the automation of operator actions at consoles and the command line, and are ideal to support the network test requirements. So ATRT’s testing solution was identified as the technology to be utilized to support this project.

Using the ATRT, the network test steps were successfully automated.  The test steps are designed to verify the network connectivity and performance is suitable for use during deployment.

Conclusion:

Testing shipboard complex network of subsystems is a challenging and demanding effort.  The testing included network connectivity tests and network tolerance timing tests.  Overall productivity efficiency achieved was 64%.  The multi-day, multi-operator network test was reduced to be completed within a single day, using one operator.  Automation resulted in decreased run times, decreased manning levels, increased consistency, and increased reliability.  Automation with ATRT made integration and installation of shipboard systems considerably more efficient, and simplified the overall testing procedures.