Wind River Studio Virtual Lab: Enabling Shift-Left Embedded Testing

The benefits of shift-left testing are clear. Defects detected later in the cycle are harder to fix and more likely to negatively impact release schedule or quality. Shift-left testing starts the testing process earlier, so defects can be found and fixed earlier – reducing effort, cost, and time. Unfortunately, testing earlier is much easier said than done when developing embedded and edge systems.

In an earlier blog post, I explored a host of problems that impede shift-left testing with embedded systems. In this post, I’ll focus on how Wind River Studio Virtual Lab solves those problems.

Overcoming Lack of Hardware Availability

Unlike traditional IT systems, embedded systems typically run on custom hardware developed for the project. As a result, hardware may not be available in the early stages of development, preventing testing. Moreover, development and debugging tasks often require specialized configurations such as debugging ports or extra RAM that differ from production devices.

To enable shift-left testing, Studio Virtual Lab provides access to robust simulation technologies that enable testing when hardware is not available. Virtual testing targets based on simulation deliver numerous benefits throughout the project lifecycle:

  • It is one of the only ways to perform testing in the early stages, when hardware devices do not yet exist.
  • It enables developers and testers to easily change the hardware configuration to test different scenarios without requiring a hardware refresh.
  • It improves project cost and schedule by reducing the need for each developer to have their own development hardware, and by reducing opportunities for damage to expensive development devices.
  • As discussed in the following section, it enables testing at greater scale.

Studio Virtual Lab provides a centralized management and configuration interface for simulated targets, including the ability to spin up and shut down simulations as needed in manual and automated workflows.

Scaling Testing Without Busting the Budget

Simulated targets also provide a means to add testing capacity without incurring the time and expense of manufacturing or procuring additional hardware. Studio Virtual Lab simulations are spun up inside your cloud infrastructure, giving you full control over their security, capacity, and cost.

As with other cloud technologies, you pay for only the resources you actually use. This gives users much better control over tradeoffs between schedule and cost. If testing bottlenecks are threatening the project schedule, or you simply want to accelerate the project, program managers can scale testing capacity without a lengthy CapEx or IT request. Moreover, virtual targets are available much faster, at much lower cost, than physical targets.

Securely Expanding Access to Test Benches

Simulation offers a lot of benefits, but there are still testing and certification scenarios that must be performed on physical hardware. Studio Lab Connect enables the Studio Virtual Lab cloud platform to also manage external physical devices over secure communication channels.

Managing physical resources in the cloud eliminates the physical constraints that impede use of your testing resources. Expensive test benches and labs can be leveraged by teams around the globe, delivering a higher return on your investment. Improved utilization, connectivity, and collaboration improve productivity while reducing costs.

Recognizing that intelligent edge systems are growing increasingly complex, Studio Virtual Lab includes the ability to orchestrate set up and tear down of multi-device connected systems for even easier sharing.

Establishing Uniform Access to Testing Resources

When resources are used and managed by isolated users and teams, they tend to rely more on ad hoc configuration and access procedures. Studio Virtual Lab is designed to facilitate flexible, automated testing and that means it must provide uniform access to all testing resources.

All resources, whether simulated or physical, connected over network, serial, JTAG, or some other mechanism, are managed and accessed in the same way through Studio Virtual Lab. This includes inventory management, reservation of and access to targets, as well as automated set up and tear down actions when accessing the resources themselves. Communications are fully encrypted, with secure authentication of targets and users, plus role-based access controls.

Providing secure, uniform access to targets delivers huge benefits to users:

  • The same testing suite can be used on both simulated and physical hardware, reducing duplicated effort while improving consistency and scalability.
  • Target set up and tear down actions can be stored with the target configuration, eliminating reliance on manual and ad hoc set up while improving automatability.
  • Pipelines and automated scripts can reliably find, reserve, and connect to testing resources, enabling the benefits of automated testing without having to solve the connectivity and collaboration problems yourself.

Centralizing Automation and Visibility

Finally, I want to emphasize how Studio Virtual Lab enables a shift toward collaborative testing. Instead of requiring developers and testers to work within the confines of a hardware lab, hardware resources are managed through a central platform accessible to all team members. Instead of having to work with experts to use those resources, any team member (with access rights) can leverage the set up and tear down logic encapsulated into the resource configurations.

The Wind River Studio platform becomes a hub through which the entire team can collaborate, with access to all the resources they need to efficiently do their job and visibility into what is happening across the team. It becomes simple to answer questions like “Which targets are available for testing or debugging?”, “What is the testing status of my latest code change?”, and “Is the project on schedule, and where are the risks?” Moreover, team members don’t typically need to manually manage tests and prepare reports; the tests run automatically in response to development activity, and the platform keeps track of activity and status.

Wind River Studio Virtual Lab is purpose-built to solve the challenges that prevent automated testing and DevSecOps adoption in teams developing for the intelligent edge. Contact us today to discuss how we can help you accelerate development by establishing predictable, scalable, collaborative testing throughout the embedded development life cycle.



About the author

Jon Jarboe is a Senior Product Marketing Manager at Wind River