The system integration testing process involves inspecting each individual component in a complete system to ensure that it works. This can include both hardware and software when looking at a digital device. System integration testing of hardware running on embedded software can be particularly tricky. Software testing in these situations is often indistinguishable from hardware testing. This might explain why so many quality assurance organizations now ask all software to follow certain set paradigms.
Portable Operating System Interface (POSIX) standards have made it much easier for quality assurance personnel to do their jobs. These standards make an operating system completely manufacturer-neutral, which translates into standardized software testing across the board. All modern derivatives of Unix are compliant with the POSIX standard. Using clones of the Unix operating system is revolutionizing the entire field of system integration testing.
Mobile Device Operating Systems
System integration testing on mobile devices is particularly difficult for technicians because of the issues surrounding embedded systems. Modern mobile operating systems make this process much easier. The most popular mobile operating system in Canada is Google Android, which is based on Unix. While Android isn’t complaint with POSIX standards in the strictest sense, testing integrated Android systems is still much easier than testing anything for an older mobile platform.
Apple’s Changing Role
Apple’s iOS is picking up the slack in every industry that Android hasn’t become dominant in. Once again iOS isn’t strictly compliant with the POSIX standards that makes software testing a breeze. Some quality assurance personnel have actually asked Apple to switch to this kind of system, but it’s doubtful that they’ll become compliant anytime soon.
The iOS platform is powered by Apple’s open source Darwin operating system. Darwin itself is mostly compatible with the POSIX standards, and parts of the operating system can be individually compiled from source. Several Canadian organizations compile their own tools based on source code made available by Apple’s engineers.
Apple’s role is quickly changing to that of a software vendor, but they’re still very specific about what hardware is used to run iOS and even desktop OS X applications. Software testing for these sorts of integrated systems should remain easy for years. Apple publishes specification sheets about all the hardware they publish for. This means that testing an application on only a few machines will ensure that it’s compatible with the hardware consumers have.
Future Integrated Systems
System integration testing is a difficult undertaking. More than likely quality assurance experts will push for further compliance with standards in the near future. Canadian legislators are unlikely to get involved, but the software testing community can be expected to publish their own requirements. Vendors will have to abide by these to stay competitive in the market. For those of you interested, there is more information available at QA Consultants.