VeriTest Begins Certifying Applications for Windows 2000
The certification process for server applications that run on Windows 2000 officially commenced on January 31 of this year, and companies began announcing that they achieved certification within two weeks.
Since the Application Specification for Windows 2000 Server and Advanced Server 1.2 was finalized Dec. 8, 1999, the only lab certifying applications, VeriTest Inc. (www.veritest.com), had to build the testing procedure and write the appropriate scripts.
Compared with Windows NT's logo program, Microsoft Corp. (www.microsoft.com) required the testing to be more thorough and restructured the labeling a bit. While the logo for Windows NT certified applications actually read "Designed for BackOffice," the new logos read "Designed for Windows 2000 Server," or "Designed for Windows 2000 Professional."
The distinction is an important one, says Marc Zasada, vice president, logo and compliance programs, at VeriTest. The new version means that applications are certified for the different versions of Windows 2000. There are common requirements for all of the versions, and there are unique requirements for each product, as well. The most important features for Windows 2000 Server, for instance, include Active Directory and security features. To work with Advanced Server, applications must also pass a test for clustering support.
Although the specification for Datacenter Server has not been published yet, tests will likely include clustering support for more nodes and larger memory support.
"People are finding it a stringent test, and most applications don’t pass the first time," Zasada says.
Testing takes between one and three weeks, depending on how complex the application is. Zasada says a moderately complex application can be certified in a week if vendors are well prepared.
The first server-side application to be certified was the Patrol suite of monitoring tools from BMC Software Inc. (www.bmc.com).
Greg Todd, program manager for Windows NT and Windows 2000 solutions at BMC, says his company prepared for close to a year before going to VeriTest to take the test. The preparation included working closely with Microsoft during the draft stages of the specification and educating BMC programmers and employees about what to expect.
The testing process begins with software vendor representatives going to VeriTest, where they spend the first couple of days with a tester. Together, they run through a set of consistency verification tests (CVTs). These tests demonstrate that the application performs at least one example of its most significant primary functions tested during exploratory testing.
Once the initial stages are complete, the vendor employees leave and VeriTest conducts the rest of the tests on its own.
"When you’ve got the CVTs, VeriTest makes the product do some work, as it would in a customer environment," Todd says. "The testing reproduces the primary set of functions, and does so in a reproducible, definite and clearly documentable way."
The certification process does not aim to test a product’s complete functionality, but rather, the primary functionality. Most important, it ensures that a product meets the guidelines set forth by Microsoft.
Todd says this certification process ensures customers that passed software will run predictably and reliably, thereby reducing the overall time and cost spent operating the application.
"It’s not a rubber stamp, the way many people felt the logo was for NT in the past," he says.
VeriTest’s Zasada says certification guarantees the application can take advantage of advanced features in Windows 2000, such as Active Directory, group policies, and security. Certification also benefits IT because certified applications will not overwrite system components with proprietary or outdated versions, the DLLs will be timely and compatible, and when administrators uninstall an application it will uninstall cleanly.
Although the testing is tough, Microsoft and VeriTest have programs to help developers. VeriTest has trained engineering coaches, otherwise known as Technical Account Managers (TAMs), who conduct seminars, demonstrate test techniques for Windows 2000, and provide one-on-one help for those trying to meet Microsoft’s guidelines.
ISVs also can use the TestFoundation from Rational Software Corp. (www.rational.com) to pretest products. TestFoundation for Windows 2000 has been available since mid-December, and it has been downloaded about 1,500 times.
As of now, the tool is only available for Windows 2000 Professional applications, but a Rational Software spokesman said one for server products is probable.
"Microsoft will most likely do it, but its just a matter of when and how they’ll do it," he says.
Zasada says VeriTest is staying busy certifying applications. "The process is rolling along, and we expect that to continue for some time at all three or our locations." Certification is being conducted at three main locations: Los Angeles, Paris, and Tokyo.
He wouldn’t commit to a total for the number of applications that will eventually gain certification. But VeriTest lists all the applications it has certified on its Web site at www.veritest.com/certified.