4 minute read time

Should You Outsource Your Mobile Device Farm?

by Micro Focus Employee in Application Delivery Management

Walid Hbeika, Chief Technologist & Strategist at Micro Focus Professional Services, breaks down the challenges of managing your own mobile device farm for development and testing. Finding the right managed service can alleviate these challenges and lead to higher quality mobile applications.

From Emulators to Farms

We used to rely on emulators to test mobile applications. But the high expectations of users and crowded marketplace have pushed organizations to find more realistic ways to develop and test their mobile applications. Enter the mobile device farm.

You probably know the term “computer farm,” countless rows of powerful machines in huge, windowless data centers. A mobile device farm is similar in that it consists of physical mobile devices. Being able to simultaneously test applications on these devices generates more realistic results, which leads to high-quality applications. Mobile devices farms are one of the best ways to deliver mobile apps that meet user demands. However, managing a device farm yourself presents major hurdles. Depending on your organization, you may want to find a service provider that can host your device farm.

Management Challenges

Mobile apps have to work on smart phones, tablets, and any device that’s—well—mobile. Which means mobile device farms could include hundreds of devices. The challenge is to grow a big enough farm to cover the devices you need while keeping it maintained and secure.

Maintenance

Imagine a set of mobile devices, where each device is connected via a USB cable to a large hub, which in turn is connected to a host computer. Replicate that setup 20 times, and you end up with a cascade of hubs, mobile devices, and a network of USB cables resembling strings of semi-organized spaghettis.

The size of this setup alone makes it difficult to manage. Plus, mobile devices require a bit more attention given their fragile designs and sensitive power sources. Left unchecked, a mobile device battery charging 24/7 will eventually heat up, expand, crack the display above it, and potentially leak, creating a serious fire hazard.

Even a seemingly harmless and static USB cable tends to lose sensitivity over time due to changes in its resistive capacity, confusing the troubleshooting process as to why the communication with the tethered devices has become unreliable.

Preventing these problems requires you to constantly monitor your device farm and frequently swap out mobile devices.

Security

You need a secure location for your mobile device farm. After all, you may be testing the next banking app or gaming application. The obvious choice is to put your device farm in a data center. However, most data center administrators aren’t keen on hosting mobile devices in the first place. And they definitely don’t want you setting up wireless communication channels to allow those devices to reach the outside world.

If wireless connections are not allowed, carrier signals will not be either. In many cases, data centers are shielded from any external signals in order to prevent interference and information theft. The very thing that makes data centers a great choice make it almost impossible to host your mobile device farm in one.

There are public mobile device farms. But sharing a device farm with other tenants creates potential security issues.

Meet the Mobile Device Hosting Service

Managed device farms give you all the benefits without the management problems. These cloud-based solutions make dozens or hundreds of devices available for development and testing activities. A managed service monitors the device farm for availability and performance. You can swap out devices upon request, have them serviced or repaired, and flex up your farm to meet demand capacity.

The Mobile Device Hosting Service from Micro Focus is an add-on service to UFT Mobile. This testing solution remotely controls devices, offering customers a “turnkey” service. Unlike public device farms, we offer a private cloud solution where no components are shared with other tenants.

Our dedicated support organization doesn’t just focus on ensuring the proper functionality of the setup. They also provide, what I like to call, a “built-in concierge service.” Does your team need help with a challenging script? What about a walkthrough of new features? Or maybe the onboarding of new teammates through some mentoring sessions would be helpful. We can do all of that.

In a nutshell, you get the flexibility that matches the constant evolution of mobile technologies, with that little extra personal care.

Conclusion

Your mobile application developers and testers have more important things to do than manage a mobile device farm. It’s not efficient nor secure to have devices sitting in cubicles or home offices, with limited flexibility and shareability. Developers and testers need device farms that properly reflect what the consumers of their apps use, without worrying about availability, reliability, security, power, cooling, and more.

Micro Focus has built an entire practice around providing such service, ensuring that each customer has a device farm that supports and adapts to current and future mobile application testing needs.

Contact us today to learn whether our Mobile Device Hosting Service is right for your organization.

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Functional Testing