7.1. Do You Need a Test Lab?

Not every test organization needs a test lab. Some organizations need a lab only at certain times; others are immobilized without one. Because setting up and (especially) maintaining a decent test lab is an expensive proposition, you should carefully evaluate whether or not you actually need a lab.

Let's look at our two hypothetical companies. If you are the test manager for Winged Bytes, working on DataRocket and other servers, you will want a test lab. Environmental testing often requires thermal chambers and tables for shock and vibration tests. Electronic testing involves oscilloscopes, spectrum analyzers, and voltage meters. Reliability testing requires keyboard tappers and accelerated-life test chambers. Compatibility testing calls for a library of hardware and software. These types of test tools—especially bulky tools such as chambers and space-consuming collections of software—require a home of their own, away from general circulation.

If you are the test manager for Software Cafeteria, working on SpeedyWriter, however, you might not need a test lab. Your setup involves only a few workstations and some operating system software in open areas. The network infrastructure and servers are probably hidden away in a server room (or at least in a wiring closet) and thus don't require a separate lab.

The following questions can help you decide whether to establish or to forego a test lab:

  • Do you need large test tools such as chambers? Are some of your ...

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