Have Servers, will travel









Frequently Asked Questions

How is a typical project handled?

How is each project priced?  

How can Reality Test save my company money?  

Why can't I just do this testing myself?  

What events might trigger a need for this kind of testing?  

Can my staff participate?  

What does “production-equivalent” mean?  


How is a typical project handled?

Reality Test takes a holistic approach, guiding the client through the entire process on an as-needed basis. We rely on the client to provide the business case definition, user scenarios, and staffing that is unique to their project as we help them define those items in concise, well-defined, terms.

The typical project steps are:

·          Help the client's staff write a business case for the need to test their system, including estimating the cost of failure and typical user scenarios.

·          Defining the scope of the tests, the parameters to be measured and reported, and the actual procedures and detailed schedule to be used.

·          Assisting in selecting testing software and preparing for the tests.

·          "Cloning" the client system in the lab - setting up the hardware and software.

·          Executing the tests and monitoring the system throughout the test.

·          Documenting and presenting the results to the client.

·          Helping the client interpret the results and identify follow-on issues.

·          Scheduling additional testing, if indicated by the results.

·          Archiving the client's test tool scripts for future engagements.

Many of these steps are optional depending upon the sophistication and preparedness of the client that is going to be performing the tests in the lab.

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How is each project priced?

The price is based on:

·          The total number of servers used for the test

·          The maximum number of virtual users

·          The amount of management consulting required prior to and during the test itself (over and above the standard amount that is included in all client engagements).

·          The duration of the time spent in the lab.

·          Third party software (operating systems, web servers, database software, etc.) is included in the base fee. Script writing services and follow up consulting are available.

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How can Reality Test save my company money?

Setting up multiple production-equivalent test lab environments is generally too expensive for most companies to justify. Typical required environments are:

1.     Development environment: typically several stand-alone systems bearing little resemblance to the final production system.

2.     Functional test environment: low-end machines set up in a similar-to-production environment, but lacking the RAM, processors, and/or network fidelity.

3.     Usability testing environment: same as functional test, often is shared with the functional test team.

4.     Stress testing environment: must be identical to the production environment in order to accurately predict the system response under load.

5.     Pre-production environment: identical to the production environment. Used by the production support  technicians to test modifications to the production environment before going "live" with updates.

6.     Production environment: systems actually used by the end-users or customers of the application.


While almost all companies have environments # 1, 2, 3, and 6, very few have the resources to fund numbers 4 and 5. Since Reality Test offers short-term rental of production-equivalent environments, this is usually much cheaper then not only buying the equipment but also setting up the infrastructure to support this kind of testing for short-term projects.


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Why can't I just do this testing myself?

You can! As long as you're willing to invest in a complete duplicate of your production system, or take your production system off line, in order to execute load and performance testing. Note that this would be required whenever upgrades to the production system were made as well as for the initial deployment. Both alternatives are usually cost ineffective.


Companies have struggled to find an independent outsourcing solution in the marketplace that both fits their needs and isn't trying to sell you hardware or software in the process.


Reality Test helps companies ensure the reliability and performance of their critical systems by providing the expertise and tools necessary for comprehensive testing in a neutral and safe environment.


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What events might trigger a need for this kind of testing?

There are three basic areas that trigger the need for production-environment testing:

1.       Changes to the hardware environment

·          Introduction of new hardware to the existing system

·          Determination of existing system's performance baseline and limits

·          Integration of previously separate systems

·          Enterprise-wide systems optimization

·          Upgrades to the existing hardware

2.       Changes to the software environment

·          Application software upgrades

·          Operating system or database software upgrades

·          Integration of previously separate systems

·          Enterprise-wide systems optimization

3.       Changes to the application's business model

·          Anticipated spikes in transactions due to a marketing campaign or upcoming holiday season

·          Integration of legacy systems acquired through merger, acquisition, or business partnerships

·          Integration with external systems, i.e., Business-to-Business exchange

·          Annual management review of Information Systems and future planning

·          Feasibility studies and 'What if" scenarios

·          Request by insurance companies to validate your process (this is especially critical for companies hosting websites or third-party business data)

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Can my staff participate?

Absolutely.  Your staff understands your system better than anyone.  Reality Test provides as little or as much expertise and support as you need. 

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What does "production-equivalent" mean?

Production equivalent means that Reality Test will match your production environment with respect to:

·          Number of servers

·          Number of processors in each server (single, dual-proc, quad-proc, 8, or 16)

·          Total RAM in each server

·          Processor speed

·          Network configuration (bandwidth, latency, and protocol)

·          Total hard-drive capacity, including RAID arrays or Storage Area Network (SAN)

·          Production versions of the operating system, web server software, and database engine software.

Additionally, Reality Test will provide high-speed Internet connectivity to allow for easy transfer of client software to be loaded onto the production-equivalent environment and for ease of updates from the client site to the lab


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