There are several essential steps in operating system or VDI migration projects. Examples of these essential steps include planning and getting end-users on board. Another is testing. Without an effective testing strategy, the migration project is more likely to fail. Smoke testing is one type of test that is crucial to the process.

Here are seven ways that smoke testing will help ensure your operating system or VDI migration project is a success.

1. Smoke Testing is Automation Friendly

With the right tools, smoke testing can be performed as an automated process, where thousands of apps are tested quickly and accurately. It is then possible to use the data produced by automated smoke testing to plan and implement the next steps in your OS and/or VDI migration project.

Access Capture has been designed to optimise the automated smoke testing of apps, as well as offering additional testing functionality for later steps in the migration process, including quality assurance testing and user acceptance testing.


2. Identifies Apps that Won’t Load or Run on the New Operating System

The term smoke testing has its origins in electronics, and it remains best practice among electrical and electronics engineers, in addition to its use in the IT space. In electronics, smoke testing refers to the first time you attach a new circuit to power. It is an initial test to check core functionality. Quite literally, if the circuit goes on fire or starts to smoke, there is no need for further testing as there is an obvious problem.

The same applies to application testing when migrating to a new operating system. It is crucial as early in the process as possible to identify applications among the many thousands in your app estate that fail basic initial launch testing within the new operating system environment.

For example, an app might break on launch or during basic functionality testing if it has hardcoded data points to things like Microsoft Office, browser, or .NET versions. Smoke testing will flag these problem apps so the initial re-packaging effort can be prioritised.


3. Identifies Apps that Won’t Load or Run on New Virtual Machines

Following on from the previous point, smoke testing can also identify apps that won’t load or run on virtual machines in VDI migration projects. For example, an app might fail to launch because the hardware drivers required by the app are missing on the new virtual machine.

Having this knowledge early in the migration project makes it possible for corrective action to be taken on the most obvious problem areas, reducing double work and saving time and resources later in the project.

4. Identifies App Performance Issues in VDI Migration Projects

In addition to checking if an application will load, smoke testing can also be used to identify performance issues with the core functionality of apps. This is particularly useful in VDI migration projects where you are moving users from physical to virtual machines. For example, an app that has high graphic card and GPU requirements might run fine on a physical desktop. However, the same app might be impossible to use on a virtual machine that has been configured for apps with more run-of-the-mill graphics requirements.

Managing performance expectations and virtual machine capabilities are crucial parts of the VDI migration process, so understanding the main performance issues early allows for more effective corrective action to be taken. Smoke testing can provide you with this information.


5. To Upgrade or Not to Upgrade – Smoke Testing Answers the Question

New versions of applications are released all the time. As a result, it is common in OS migration projects to have to make decisions on whether to stay with the original version of an app (which is likely to be stable) or switch to the updated version.

Updated versions of apps offer improvements in areas like performance and security. However, updated apps can also have different performance requirements. For example, an updated app might need more CPU or memory to function properly.

Smoke testing allows you to make a direct comparison between the original and updated version of the app with the same:

  • Virtual machine specification
  • Data points
  • Time period

The performance of the updated version can then be analysed and compared with the original version, enabling data-driven decision-making on whether or not to upgrade your users.


6. Identify App Failures Following a Core Image Change

OS migration projects are often opportunities to make changes to your core image, such as changes to Sybase, Oracle, or Java. Changes like this are made for valid and beneficial reasons, but they can also have a knock-on impact where the changes break packaged applications.

Smoke testing lets you quickly and accurately test apps in the new environment to identify those that will need to be repackaged.


7. Provides Valuable Information to App Owners and Developers

Application owners and developers want to provide users with stable and robust apps both for user experience reasons and to minimise support tickets. As we have seen in the points above, changing operating system or the internal core build can break apps.

Smoke testing provides app owners and developers with data on any changes that are necessary. This includes your internal software development teams as well as external application vendors.

Smoke Testing Should be Part of Your OS or VDI Migration Strategy

For the reasons outlined above, it is important to include smoke testing in your operating system or VDI migration playbook, particularly as the process can be automated. By utilising the potential of smoke testing, you can save time and money. You will also reduce the strain on your IT department during and post-migration, while enhancing the user experience.


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