What is a network test lab?

July 5, 2023
10 min

Ever since the first text editors, IT professionals have built isolated testbed infrastructures whenever necessary to write, run, and debug code prior to deployment in production environments.

Originally, the isolated testbed infrastructures were hosted on physical and virtualized servers, but more recently, the options have expanded to cloud-based Lab-as-a-Service (LaaS) and hybrid solutions.

As the options for testbeds have expanded, so, too, have the ways in which they are used. In addition to writing, running, and debugging code prior to deployment, isolated infrastructures are also now used to conduct proof of concept (POC) trials, certify software, run sales demonstrations, train new employees, and host hackathons—events in which development teams work collaboratively on software projects.

Network test labs have proven to be a critical tool to help automate DevOps testing processes.

Common Challenges for DevOps Teams Supporting Network Test Labs

Building isolated testbed infrastructures “whenever necessary” can be both time-consuming and costly. Each testbed is provisioned, configured, and delivered individually—and then torn-down individually to release resources for the next testbed. In scenarios in which multiple teams are requesting testbeds,  testbeds have to be reconfigured, or previous testbeds have to be recreated, delivery wait times can be long – and cloud costs high—if multiple testbeds are built in the cloud.

One of the consequences of long wait times is that business units may bypass established processes to build isolated testbed infrastructures in Shadow IT environments. While Shadow IT can be beneficial to organizations, empowering  business units to move faster, a lack of experience can result in can lead to increased costs, performance inefficiencies, and security and compliance risks—which can be especially dangerous if an unsafe or non-compliant testbed infrastructure is deployed in a production environment.

A lack of experience can also result in Shadow IT environments delivering false test results. For example, code may appear to work, POC trials may appear to demonstrate the viability of a product, software may appear to meet certification standards, etc. However, when the testbed infrastructures are deployed in a production environment, mistakes are made and quality controls are overlooked, which necessitates running the tests in a professionally built infrastructure.

Key Benefits of Continuous Network Test Labs for DevOps Teams

A self-service network test lab is a Lab-as-a-Service that provides business units with on demand testbeds. The components of the testbed infrastructures are approved in advance by Ops teams, who also put guardrails in place to govern resource usage, cost, compliance, and security. This enables complex testbed infrastructures to be provisioned in minutes – rather than in days – eliminating delays and high cloud costs, while reducing the likelihood of Shadow IT.

Organizations using Quali’s CloudShell network test labs also benefit from single pane orchestration across on-premises, cloud, and hybrid environments, infrastructure component sharing, automated infrastructure tear-down, and infrastructure scheduling, so recurring jobs are ready to go “whenever necessary.”

As a result, CloudShell increases productivity, accelerates time to market, and slashes the labor costs of configuring, delivering, and tearing down testbed infrastructures—plus the costs of running testbed infrastructures hosted in the cloud. Effectively a net income generator, CloudShell helps streamline development, testing, software certification, and training via self-service provisioning and automated decommissioning of testbed infrastructures.

Additionally, Quali’s Torque platform automates the orchestration and deployment of network test environments based on infrastructure defined in Git.

Revolutionize DevOps with a Network Test Lab from Quali

Automating orchestration and delivery of test lab environments can significantly improve velocity for DevOps teams looking to support continuous testing.

To see how to automate orchestration and delivery of environments, watch a demo of Quali CloudShell.

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