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Improved Performance Testing for Mincom’s flagship product

Mincom will simplify and automate their performance testing framework, utilising Open Source technologies and four CEED students from QUT.

From small beginnings in Brisbane, Mincom has grown into a global company which provides leading Enterprise Asset Management software solutions to a number of industries including mining, defence, public infrastructure, energy, oil and gas.

The newest release of Ellipse, the company’s flagship product, has a greatly changed technology “stack” and therefore the current performance testing framework needs to be updated.

So, Mincom decided to engage four CEED students to work with their performance testing team to take another look and transform the way Mincom conduct this type of important testing.

According to Matt O’Connor from Mincom, “the main benefit of the CEED Program is the exposure that we get to the students in a real project environment, with all the stresses and demands that this entails. On the other hand, it also gives the students an introduction to Mincom so that they can see if it’s a place that they would like to work. However another big benefit is that it allows us to try some bleeding edge research without the pressure to come up with a product that can be sold. This means that some of the more crazy ideas floating around can be tested and sometimes extraordinary things happen”.

“We find students bring so much energy and enthusiasm to their project and this year’s project is no exception. They have settled down really quickly and are working hard with the Performance Testing team. This year’s project will have a massive impact on the way the performance testing is done in Mincom and everyone around the project is very motivated to see it succeed”, Matt said. 

The students selected by Matt are all from QUT this time – Anita Sumari (final year B.Corporate Systems Management); Dominic (Dom) Bou-Samra (final year B.IT – Software Engineering); Jerome Saltmarsh (final year B.IT – Software Engineering); and Yongqiang (Grant) Wu (Master of IT).

The four CEED students and a mentor, during their 2011 projects at Mincom 
 From left:  Jerome Saltmarsh (student), Grant Wu (student),
 Tony Hullet (Mincom), Anita Sumari (student) and Dom Bou-Samra
 (student) pictured during their CEED projects at Mincom

As part of the project, Anita, Dom, Jerome and Grant are researching various Open Source technologies which can be used to develop a comprehensive (and repeatable) set of automated performance tests according to pre-defined requirements.  By doing so, Mincom will be able to reduce the costs associated with testing as well as conduct quicker and more accurate testing due to the automation of many (currently) manual tasks.

Some of the Open Source technologies being researched are:  JMeter, The Grinder, OpenSTA and Selenium.  The students are looking at these options in terms of architecture, development history, flexibility, maturity, scaleability, user base, extendibility, targets of test types (GUI, Database or Web) and deficiences, to understand each one’s procedures. 

Once a technology has been selected, the development phase will begin.  The students will use the ‘Agile’ software development methodology incorporating two x four week development ‘sprints’.  Using Agile’s methodology, a tangible outcome will be delivered at the end of each sprint.

During the first, four week Sprint the students’ objectives are to: create and run test cases for the new tool.

During Sprint 2, the students will achieve: testing of the execution framework; and testing of the result collection and analytics

The students will be learning and using various technologies during their project, including Apache JMeter, MySQL, Ellipse 8, and JBoss Server.  Much of the programming will be done in Java code / script.

Anita recently commented on the experience she is gaining through her project, “this is my first exposure to a software-development environment and I am excited being part of the technical team. We're currently in the development phase of sprint 1, which covers the translating of test cases to run in JMeter. I like the idea of being able to gain new knowledge daily, be it learning new software or understanding scripts. This experience will surely be a start to something bigger - I am confident that the skills obtained will benefit me in the future”, Anita said.

From Matt O’Connor’s perspective, “In the past Mincom has tried many different ways of conducting student placements / internships. CEED is a perfect combination of the two main approaches in that it sources students from many universities like a generally advertised placement program but also pre-filters the students and does most of the leg work like a university partnership”.

“As such, our experience with the people behind CEED has been extremely positive. They are just the sort of people that you want to have on your side, organised, experienced and very effective. We are already looking forward to the next program”, Matt concluded.


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