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Importance of Software Testing in the IT Industry

Software development companies dedicate a substantial amount of resources and manpower for the development of applications according to requirements specified by enterprises or individuals. However, subsequent to development of such applications/software, companies are required to ensure that such software/applications perform in accordance with the client’s requirements. To ensure that any and all bugs in the software are identified prior to the deployment, various testing procedures are implemented by the IT industry. The importance of this is directly related to the ability of software to measure up to its potential. If the new software is unable to perform the task it was designed for, the client might face severe losses due to stoppage of work and also adversely affect the business of the software development company. The scope of these procedures is to facilitate identification of a problem in the software, fixing of such problems is not within in the scope of software testing. Some of the leading methodologies implemented by companies in the IT industry include General, Load, Functional and Regression Testing.

General Testing

This refers to the general tests carried out on software/applications to ensure the functionality of newly developed software. Some of the common tests included as part of standard Quality Assurance procedures are web performance and usability testing. The web performance testing procedure is mostly engaged in evaluating the online performance of a web-based software application or a website. Usability testing is a mainly subjective approach, which ensures that the software is capable of being utilized effectively in a given set of circumstances. The purpose is to identify the general operating capability of the software/application being tested and to help developers determine some of the areas of improvement for the software. A software development company usually performs general testing of software/applications along with other more advanced methods to ensure that the software conforms to the pre-defined operational capabilities specified by the client/user group.

Load Testing

The load testing procedure simulates operating conditions of the software/application during periods of higher/normal load to gauge the effect of such changes on the functioning of the software/application. This is not the same as stress testing, because load testing checks the operational capabilities in case of both normal load and high load conditions, while stress testing attempts to induce errors in normal operations by using increased system load. This is considered to be a type of non-functional testing, which is undertaken by software development companies to gauge the multi-user support capabilities of the application.

As a commonly employed practice in the software industry, its specific goals are widely disputed and the term is often utilized in conjunctions with volume, reliability, software performance and concurrency testing. By using load testing, developers can attempt to determine the reason for slow performance of software. The common reasons for such slow response commonly include load balancing between multiple servers, client-side processing, network congestion/latency, available database service and/or bugs in the application server(s) or software. The use of load testing is recommended for software/applications, which are subjected to SLA (service level agreement) for ensuring that the software is capable of supporting multiple users. As the procedure simulates an increase in system load by using multiple virtual users, various software are currently available to carry out load testing. Some of the leading load-testing tools used by developers globally are IBM Rational Performance Tester, Apache JMeter, LoadRunner etc. Additionally, a load testing tool commonly favored by software testing companies in India is available as part of the Visual Studio Ultimate Edition of Microsoft.

What SEO Can Do for Your Business

Having a website can be a great way to earn extra cash, but it can also be a nightmare when it concerns competition. The online marketplace is fiercely competitive, making it almost impossible to have a successful site where you offer products or other services. One way to totally transform your site, increase unique visitor hits and get your brand name out there is through search engine optimization, better known as SEO. SEO has been around for well over 15 years, and it’s a way for your site to rank higher on search engines. Without having proper SEO techniques put into place and without working with the right SEO Services Austin company, you’re risking your site ranking lower on search engines, which makes it difficult for customers to find your site.

What is Search Engine Optimization?

Search engine optimization, or SEO, optimizes your site on search engines like Google and Bing. When your site is properly optimized, people will be able to find it on the first one or two pages when searching for either your company name or by searching for specific keywords that pertain to the types of products and services you sell. Search engine optimization is a form of internet marketing, and it’s highly recommended to those who have a site they want to make popular. Without it, your site will become dormant and few people will know that you’re even in business. SEO is ideal for company sites along with blogs and social media pages.

Why It Needs to Be Done by a Professional

Back in 2011, Google and other search engine companies implemented specific algorithm changes that made keyword stuffing worse than not optimizing your site at all. Before 2011, site owners could stuff their content with dozens of keywords without making much sense. This allowed their site to rank high on search engines because when someone would search for one of those keywords, the site would automatically pop up. Several years ago, keyword stuffing was made obsolete and Google now prefers sites that create higher-quality content that has strategically placed keywords throughout. If your site still has keyword stuffing on each page, this needs to be done with and a professional need to come in to correct the issue. Professional SEO companies specifically work on optimizing sites for search engines, using their own skills, knowledge, and tools to get the job done according to search engine regulations.

Maintenance and Other Marketing

Search engine optimization requires regular maintenance to ensure that the site is still ranking well on search engines. Unfortunately, because competition online is so tough, your best-laid efforts can become obsolete over time, and more optimization and keyword usage are required. SEO companies will charge anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a couple thousand dollars to do this job for you, so it’s imperative that you get a free estimate from them before okaying their work. SEO can change your site for the better when it is done properly.

How to Select the Right Internet Access Provider

Today in this technology and internet savvy world you may find out that you will have multiple choices of Internet Access Providers to choose from. As technology and competition evolves, it is important to stay up to date with options and trends. For businesses this may be a very important decision because today many businesses depend on internet access for communications and it can be quite a challenge when deciding which Internet provider offers the best Internet service needed for your operations.

Although you can easily shop around online, how do you know for sure you are choosing the right Internet service provider? Do they have a professional technical support team? Will they respond promptly when problems arise with your Internet service? These are important questions to ask when searching for a local Internet service. If you’re searching for the right Internet service provider, here are some important points to consider.

Step 1 – Find out who the local Providers are.

You can find a local internet service provider for your home or business by asking family members, neighbors or by searching online. The key is finding a reliable service provider. If you search online, you can browse through your local Internet provider’s website and see what type of Internet service they offer. If they are local they are more likely to have an increase in support personnel and will more likely be able to respond to issues if they arise much quicker.

Step 2 – Determine their Network Access Ability.

Before choosing an Internet provider, make sure you ask about their Network Access Ability. Do they offer Cable, DSL, T1, T3, Ethernet or Fiber Optic’s? Here’s a quick description of each.

Cable or DSL: A high-speed Internet service that operates over telephone lines or cable service. Typically lower cost and reasonable download speeds, however is more suited towards residential customers who mostly download and can be limiting when trying to upload. Upload speeds or sending information will be limited depending on the connection method and distance from the ISP’s POP (point of presence). DSL is distance sensitive, so the further you are away from the ISP’s POP the slower the DSL speed will be. Cable and DSL are not available in all areas and certain areas can have patchy speeds and performance so you should ask around for recommendations. Cable & DSL require basic configuration and typically includes hardware/routers which can also be purchase from $50 or more at a local computer store. Cable & DSL commonly come with a dynamic IP (not static) so if you require a static IP, you may be required to purchase them. At this time, DSL & Cable do not carry guarantees so you have to cross your fingers with the performance and uptime.

T1: Commonly used by USA businesses. T1 provides businesses with a very dependable phone line and/or Internet connection. It is a dedicated connection between your business and the ISP’s nearest POP (point of presence) and is not shared by anyone else. It carries much faster up/down speeds starting at 1.544Mbps and can be bonded with other T1′s to provide more uptime with speeds up to 10Mbps or if voice 24 trunks for each T1. One major benefit of T1 is that it carries a guarantee quality, upload and download speed through what is called an SLA (Service Level Agreement). Equipment is typically provided, however you should confirm this as because of the higher throughput speeds T1 requires higher performing routers and configuration and T1 routers run from $800+. T1 includes static IP’s; however some provider’s charge for additional static IP’s so factor this into the cost of the T1 when making a decision. T1 is available in all areas and costs run from $250-$800+ for monthly service on each T1 depending on the circuit speed and geographical location.

T3: Commonly used by USA businesses. T1 provides businesses with a very dependable phone line and/or Internet connection. It is a dedicated connection between your business and the ISP’s nearest POP (point of presence) and is not shared by anyone else. It carries much faster up/down speeds starting at 1.544Mbps and can be bonded with other T1′s to provide more uptime with speeds up to 10Mbps or if voice 24 trunks for each T1. One major benefit of T1 is that it carries a guarantee quality, upload and download speed through what is called an SLA (Service Level Agreement). Equipment is typically provided, however you should confirm this as because of the higher throughput speeds T1 requires higher performing routers and configuration and T1 routers run from $800+. T1 includes static IP’s; however some provider’s charge for additional static IP’s so factor this into the cost of the T1 when making a decision. T1 is available in all areas and costs run from $250-$800+ for monthly service on each T1 depending on the circuit speed and geographical location.

Ethernet Internet: This type of network access utilizes Ethernet LAN cards off the ISP’s POP switch. The cards have speeds up to 100 Mbps. However the speed is determined by network type and distance from the ISP’s Ethernet equipment. Speeds for businesses start at 3Mbps up to 100Mbps. The fastest Ethernet reaches Gbps. In speed, one Gbps is equal to 1000 Mbps. Ethernet Internet is not available in all area’s as it requires a central office/POP to be Ethernet equipped. Like T1 & T3, Ethernet guarantees quality, upload and download performance through what is called an SLA (Service Level Agreement) and includes static IP’s. Providers may charge for additional static IP’s and hardware. You should consult your provider as the hardware as this can be very costly from $5000+ due to the higher throughput and performance requirements. Costs for Ethernet Internet run from $400 for monthly service and up depending on speed, delivery type (EOC, Cat5, Cat6 and Fiber) and distance from the ISP’s equipment.

Fiber Optic: This consists of plastic or glass threads to transmit information (data). Information is transmitted digitally and has a much higher bandwidth capacity which is virtually unlimited when comparing to metal cables. Fiber optics uses newer technology and must be installed by specialist technicians as bad connections will result in dropped packets (packet loss) and slower bandwidth speeds due to installation errors. Fiber Optics is not available in all areas as it requires costly fiber installations, permits and equipment. Like T1 & T3 & Ethernet, Fiber guarantees quality, upload and download performance through what is called an SLA (Service Level Agreement) and includes static IP’s. Providers may charge for additional static IP’s and hardware. You should consult your provider as the hardware as this can be very costly from $10000+ due to the higher throughput and performance requirements. Costs for business Fiber Internet run from $100+ for monthly service and up depending on speed, carrier and distance from providers POP.

Step 3 – Check the Providers SLA’s (Service Level Agreements).

A quality Internet Service Provider should be able to provide customers with a high level of performance and reliability. If you are looking for a reliable and fast internet connection it is a good idea to make it mandatory to require a SLA and avoid any company that does not offer an industry standard SLA because you could run the risk of experiencing slow speeds and frequent outages. These day’s businesses rely heavily on the internet for productivity and communications to sustain business and having downtime can cost you money.

Step 4 – Check to See If They Provide Online Tools.
As more people are working and using the Internet, companies are now utilizing online tools to measure the internet performance. Any legitimate Internet provider will use the Internet to help the consumer communicate with the provider and offer technology to help the user receive everything they can out of the service they provide. Common online tools are performance monitoring, web statistics, network ping systems, online ticketing systems and other network or web statistics.

Step 5 – Beware of Low Pricing.

Often times many upstart Internet service providers will offer lower pricing than your local Internet provider. Unfortunately, many of these fly-by-night competitors have folded due to bad business practices. Remember, just because an Internet provider advertises the cheapest prices in the industry doesn’t mean they provide the best value. Many people have been swindled over short-term bargains. The unfortunate consumer discovers few months down the line that their Internet service actually cost them more money. It is better to choose a provider who has been in business for 5+ years, has a good and diverse list of customers and offers competitive rates. At least you’re guaranteed quality Internet service.

Step 6 – Check their References.

Verify the Internet provider’s references before making a commitment. A legitimate service provider will have no problem offering their references to new customers. You can take it one step further and check the Better Business Bureau online to see if the company has any unresolved complaints from unsatisfied customers. You can also do a quick Google search of the Internet provider and see if there are any customer complaints or negative reviews posted on the web.

Step 7 – Find out if they Offer Professional Customer Support?

Technical problems with an Internet service happen. Regardless of whether you have DSL, T1, T3, Ethernet or Fiber Optics, at some point in time you may be required to contact technical support. An Internet service provider should be able to offer their customers quality technical support for free. In addition, a provider should be able to offer their customers free email accounts as well. Every Internet provider should offer their customers a well-trained team of customer support representatives who are qualified to support the services the providers provide.

Step 8 – Find out if they Provide Discounts and Special Promotions?

One benefit of being a new subscriber is that many local Internet access providers offer special promotions and discounts for first-time subscribers. Choose a couple of local Internet providers and compare the services they offer and see if they match with your needs. Then compare their rates before making a final decision.

In conclusion, a company that values their customers values their employees as well. They will provide their employees with proper training in order to handle customer inquiries in a professional manner. When searching for an Internet access provider, a good way to tell if you are choosing the right Internet company is to see if you have a good rapport with the representative when you first contact the company by phone.

The representative should not only be polite, they should also be able to answer your questions in a clear and concise manner. A sales team that is only interested in your sale and not willing to answer any of your questions in a polite and professional manner is an Internet service provider you should stay far away from.

Evolution of Computers and Technology

When people began to count the numbers, they thought of devices which can track the numbers. The need for a device to do calculations along with emergence in commercialism and other human activities started the evolution of computers. Having the right tool to do calculations has always been significant for mankind. The Abacus may be the very first such device and it took hundreds of years to develop the Abacus to New digital computer. The first computer was created as an ordinary calculating machine in 19th century.

With the transit of time, many computing devices that include Napier bones and slide rule were invented. It took many centuries for the advent in computing devices. In 1642, a French mathematician, Blaise Pascal invented the very first operational automatic calculating machine. The brass rectangular box also known as Pascaline, used eight movable dials to add sum totals and eight digits only.

In 1694, German mathematician Gotfried Wilhemvoz Leibniz, extended Pascals design to do multiplication, division and also to find square root. This machine is referred to as stepped reckoner. The only drawback with this device is that it missed mechanically skillful precision in its structure and was not reliable.

The actual origin computing device is created by an English mathematician Charles Babbage in 1822. He proposed an engine to do difference equations, known as a difference engine. It could possibly print results automatically. Nevertheless, Babbage never quite made a fully functional difference engine, and in 1833, he stopped working on it at once.

In 1889, Herman Hollerith, also employed the Jacquards Loom concept to computing. One early success was the evolution of the ENIAC (Electronic Numeric Integrator and Calculator). After wards, EDVAC (Electronic Discrete Variable Automatic Computer) was invented. It was first computer produced by John Von Neumann. In the year 1949, EDSAC (Electronic Delay Storage Automatic Calculator) was developed by Maurice. Eckert-Mauchly Company invented UNIVAC (Universal Automatic computer) in 1951. In 1960, fastest electronic computer to access the time scale of 1 micro second and a total capacity of 100, 000, 000 words was evolved. During 1970s, the vogue for inexpensive computers made possible by integrated microchips (IC) and Microprocessors. These days utilizing VLSI (Very Large Scale Integrated Circuits), which are programmed using READ ONLY MEMORY is made. It could handle 32 bits at once, and can process 4, 000, 000 instructions at a stretch.

Information Technology Service Management

Over the last few years I have facilitated several Information Technology Service Management (ITSM) work sessions within the oil and gas and utility industries. The challenge was to build consensus through identifying what is important, making recommendations and decisions and establish direction that would enable the IT organization to improve processes and services offered to their customers. The following article briefly outlines a number of lessons learned that came from our experiences.

An ITSM Work Session should provide the foundation for your organization to create the blueprint to propel IT services and business value forward. In establishing an ITSM initiative the following key groups must be involved:

Strategic: CIO and Directors to establish strategic intent, vision and enterprise objectives

Tactical: Directors and Managers to establish improvement objectives, priorities and program charter

Operational: Managers and Key Stake-holders to establish solution, roadmap, business case and project charters.

Fundamental to any ITSM session when engaging these groups is to develop a clear problem definition, defined and approved by the executives or senior steering committee. This is an area which IT often falls short. The lack of a clear problem definition negatively impacts the tactical and operational levels of the organization and limits the ability to move forward.

When working with your teams, build an understanding of all the work that is taking place in the IT department right now and how it fits within the ITSM support and delivery relationship models. Discussion, training and clarity will be required to ensure your people understand the ITSM relationship and delivery model. By engaging people in a defined work exercise, your teams can map out and see how their work aligns with your ITSM program requirements. This is effective in establishing leadership and team buy-in.

Establish a clear understanding of your points of pain (PoPs) and the IT maturity. PoPs can be established through focused brainstorming sessions. Once collected, your PoPs should be looked at from an organizational and process maturity perspective. This is often missed as IT has a habit of looking only at processes and tools to solve problems. Align your PoPs with the industry maturity model standards (non-existence, chaos, reactive, proactive, service, value). It is important that the content be translated into a service management maturity grid and aligned with the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) process categories. Work to obtain various IT teams, customers and business representatives’ perspective on the ITSM organizational and process maturity levels. This builds some reality into the PoPs and maturity levels thinking by dislodging IT from a position of working in isolation.

Build a business case and program plan that can be activated by your people. At this point you are seeking clear recommendations and improvement objectives (what), benefit realization (why), tactical needs (how) and time frame (when) for which to move your organization forward with your ITSM program. This is the foundation for your ITSM program business case and charter that will be divided into project and operational requirements. You will need a solid approved business case and charter to enable you to navigate the challenges that will unfold on your journey and to clearly articulate the streams of work to be completed. There needs to be an executive team or steering committee assigned to provide clear strategic guidance. When forming and using a steering committee, their mandate must be strategic and clear. Tactical task-based reporting can be left to the project management teams and their need for task-based results and status meetings.

Recognize that ITSM is not an IT tool solution. From a business perspective, IT needs to stop chasing tool solutions, and “flavor-of-the-month quick fixes.” Ultimately, the ITSM program is a business organizational change program that seeks to align IT with the business objectives and requirements, improve processes and change culture in an effort to control or decrease costs, increase productivity and contribute to the bottom-line. ITSM programs need to be effectively operationalized. Therefore change management and communication must be at the forefront.

Work with your teams to have them answer “WIIFM” and “WIIFT” questions (what is in it for me and what is in it for them). Ensure you established the fears, uncertainties and doubts (FUDs). Be prepared to have a long FUDs list. These will need to be acknowledged and managed within the context of the ITSM program and the change management and communications plan. Use your teams and people to establish a communication plan that takes into consideration your target audience and communication needs. Every organization has an approach to communications that may or may not align with their corporate culture. Prepare a clear communications strategy and follow it.

The information in this article is based on feedback obtained during facilitated ITSM work sessions and the work of dedicated IT professionals. Efforts focused on consideration for the strategic, tactical and operational requirements. Ultimately the goal was to improve IT. It can be done. Good luck.

BraveWorld Inc. ©2007

Richard is a professional speaker, facilitator, trainer and coach with extensive senior management and leadership experience within business and the IT industry.

He partners with technical organizations and professionals to align the business enterprise and technical skills to the organization’s objectives. In essence to identify what’s important, establish direction and build skills that positively impact the bottom-line.

7 Steps to Building a Successful Social Media Strategy

Social media has been termed as the fastest growing marketing tool of the decade, as it gives companies the power to access millions of customers at the touch of a button. With over 91% of Internet users using at least one social networking tool, it has become imperative for every business to build an effective strategy. Here are 7 key steps towards developing a successful social media strategy for your business.

1. Establish your goals

The launch of a strategy is similar to any other marketing strategy. Determine what exactly your goals are before opening accounts in major social networks. An important point to be kept in mind is that social media is a long-term strategy aimed at building and strengthening relationships and brand identity as opposed to a quick selling marketing gimmick.

2. Create a plan

Your marketing plan should include choosing the number of social networks to get started with, determining the number of times each account will be updated and deciding on whether the updates will be announcements or conversations. You will also have to decide on how to integrate your social media strategy with your company’s overall communication’s strategy.

3. Appoint a social media manager

If you have adequate resources it is preferable to appoint a social network manager, with previous experience, to handle the regular updating of the different social networks. If not, you can delegate the updating task to a few of your employees who are familiar and comfortable with the domain.

4. Determine your niche

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Digg, StumbleUpon, YouTube, Reddit, Yelp; the list keeps growing day by day. Each network comes with its own strengths and weaknesses and opportunities and threats. You have to research and determine as to which network will work best with your target audience. Remember that your niche will vary depending upon whether your business is local, regional, national or global.

5. Engage with your contacts

This can be termed as the most important aspect of a social media strategy. Your contacts are the main influence you have in building and sustaining a positive corporate identity. Engage with your contacts through both online and offline events. For example, social microblogging site Twitter offers opportunities for online engagement through TweetChat and offline events through Tweetup.

6. Evaluate and analyze your progress

Keep track of important statistics like the number of updates, new number of followers/fans that have been added, number of comments/feedback and other significant actions that were taken. Objectively measure and analyze these vital metrics against your social media goals on a weekly or monthly basis.

7. Adapt and improve when necessary

In conclusion, it is important to remember that there is no precise science where social media strategy is concerned. Strategies vary in accordance with business type and industry. It is only as you keep using the media, that you will be able to grasp what particular strategies work well for your company and what don’t. For example, you may have learnt that while holding contests on Facebook may get you more ‘likes’, it may not necessarily help you connect with your preferred target audience. The secret is to not give up but to keep adapting and making improvements to your social media strategy whenever needed.

Software Engineering and the Intelligence Community – Setting Real Time Standards

Software engineering is an essential discipline when designing and implementing high performance data enterprises. Although software engineers are not certified or sanctioned by any standards body, use of software engineers with experience in the Intelligence Community increases chances of success.

Software Engineering Defined

Software engineering is the application of a systematic, disciplined, quantifiable approach to the development, operation, and maintenance of software, and the study of these approaches; that is, the application of engineering to software. (Source Wikipedia)

Knowledge of programming is the main pre-requisite to becoming a software engineer, but it is not sufficient. Many software engineers have degrees in Computer Science or mathematics and physics due to the lack of software engineering programs in higher education. An organized mind and an interest in problem solving are also prerequisites.

However, as data networks become more complex and indispensable in large organizations higher education has started to change with the introduction of new software engineering degrees, especially in post-graduate education.

Software Engineering as a Discipline

Software engineering contains a number of separate yet interrelated disciplines.

* Software requirements

* Software design

* Software development

* Software testing

* Software maintenance

* Software configuration management

* Software engineering management, see also project management

* Software development process

* Software engineering tools and Computer Aided Software Engineering

* Software quality

* Social Software Engineering

Each sub discipline has its own performance requirements and processes for success.

Jobs in Software Engineering – A Strong Market

Because the field of software engineering is broad and growing more complex because of the introduction of new technologies and applications, the potential for job growth is significant even in a down economy.

According to the Federal Government studies, the demand for qualified software engineers is significant and will continue to grow,

Computer software engineers are one of the occupations projected to grow the fastest and add the most new jobs over the 2006-16 decade.
Excellent job prospects are expected for applicants with at least bachelor’s degree in computer engineering or computer science and with practical work experience.
Computer software engineers must continually strive to acquire new skills in conjunction with the rapid changes that occur in computer technology.

Because computer networks and computing hardware and software are growing in power and complexity, the demand for qualified Software engineers is high. As the United States continues to be an information driven society new, high paying jobs with quality benefit packages are available in the economy.

This is particularly true as the economy emerges from its depressed state.

Employment of computer software engineers is projected to increase by 38 percent over the 2006 to 2016 period, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. This occupation will generate about 324, 000 new jobs, over the projections decade, one of the largest employment increases of any occupation.

Significant drivers of growth in the demand for software engineers include adoption of new technologies for information efficiency in a competitive environment. This is particularly true as information networks grow in sophistication and interconnect.

In addition, information security concerns and cyber threats have given rise to new software requirements.

Concerns over “cyber security” will result in businesses and government continuing to invest heavily in software that protects their networks and vital electronic infrastructure from attack. Cyber Security has become a major area of concern for the U, S, Department of Defense and the Intelligence Community.

Very few organizations are willing to trust the security of their networks to low cost, offshore software engineering firms.

Finally, in economic and competitive terms low cost offshore outsourcing is not a real threat because software engineering requires innovation and intense research and development expenditures. (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics)

One area with a tremendous appetite for software engineers is the Federal Government. The Federal Government continues to grow and, with the present trend in Government spending, greater demand for IT and Cyber Security engineering specialists will also generate job demand..