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Use Your ESP to Test Software Packages
The Enterprise Software Packaging cycle helps you test your software packages thoroughly before introducing them into the production network.
by Danielle Ruest and Nelson Ruest

Posted September 29, 2003

For This Solution: Windows Network, Software Packaging Software

One of the most overlooked processes in software testing is deployment testing. Organizations which use Windows networks today have mostly moved to Windows Installer technology for software packaging and distribution. Despite the fact that Microsoft's Windows Installer service offers several features for self-healing and package stability, it is still important to perform complete testing of each package before deploying it into the production network, so that products don't conflict with each other when running on a user's workstation.

That is why it is crucial to include a complete testing and quality assurance program for software packaging, whether it be for commercial software or corporate applications that have been designed in-house.

All software has a lifecycle. It begins the moment the software development project is initiated by a manufacturer, and continues until the moment the software is retired from the marketplace. For user organizations, the lifecycle focuses more on when it is acquired, when it is deployed, how it is maintained and supported, and when it is retired from the network. In the case of corporate applications, it begins the moment corporate developers begin to work on the project, and ends when the product is retired from use (see Figure 1).

During its lifecycle, most software will require corrections. Manufacturers often call these "service packs" or "service releases," while corporations call them "updates." If an organization adopts a software product before these corrections are released, it will have to deploy them in addition to the deployment of the original product during that product's lifecycle. An organization must arm itself with comprehensive software maintenance processes and toolkits.

Enterprise Software Packaging (ESP)—the preparation of standard, structured automated installations for deployment within a specific corporate environment—plays a key role within the lifecycle because it takes charge of all the activities that are related to software package preparation and maintenance.

The ESP cycle must include all of the processes and additional steps required to ensure full testing and quality assurance (see Figure 2). This preparation cycle includes five activities: Request; Integration; Product Testing; Quality Assurance; and Release Management.

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