Testing? That’s what customers are for!

By Ido Sarig

Ido-headshotMany years ago, circa 1990, as I was starting out my professional career as a software developer with Mercury Interactive, I went on a customer call to a Silicon Valley-based software company, to present our new product for automated software testing. Apparently, our message did not get through, as the response we got at the end of our pitch from the company’s VP of engineering (who shall remain nameless) is the title of this post.

I don’t want to go as far as saying that this was the prevalent attitude in those days, but I also can’t honestly say it was atypical. Back then, many in the industry, especially in engineering roles, thought it was a reasonable process to develop an application, debug it as best you can, ship it, and then fix the remainder of the issues as they surface at customer sites. This, despite numerous studies showing it is much more costly to repair bugs found in the field than it is to find and fix them before shipping.

Software development in IT has come a long way since then, no doubt helped along by high-profile software failures and front-page issues such as the Year 2000. But it seems that embedded software development is lagging behind – judging by cases such as the software glitch which caused a network outage affecting millions of customers of Israel's largest cellular, or the recall of medical devices that created potentially life-threatening condition due to a software error.

Is the embedded software industry playing catch-up to IT, in terms of adopting proper quality assurance processes, or is this simply a case of wider exposure, due to the public nature of these failures? What do you think?

Ido Sarig is vice president of product marketing for Device Test at Wind River and responsible for driving new solutions for the testing, diagnostics, monitoring and management of intelligent devices. Ido has been leading product and marketing organizations at high-technology companies for more than 20 years. Most recently, he was the Chief Marketing Officer at BDNA. Prior to that, he was a partner with Thomas Weisel Venture Partners. Earlier, he worked at Mercury, holding senior executive positions in Engineering, Technology Strategy and Product Marketing. Ido has been a well-received speaker in venues such as STAR, EuroSTAR, Software Quality Europe and many others. 



  1. Boris Köster

    A lot of things have changed since “yesterday”. In the past it was very important to develop high-quality solutions. Currently in the wild, a lot of companies developing software with zillions of bugs, let the customers find them. I am developing for at least … I think +20 years now but my focus was always quality. QA is a procedure that many people do not understand. They frustrating their customers to maximum.

  2. Jakob Engblom

    I think it very much depends on the nature of the system being developed. Many embedded systems are using very strict processes for development. We could look at the recent reports in an ironic way and note that there should really be many more of those failures, as system complexity is rapidly increasing “thanks” to networking of things that used to be separated. That we do not see more disasters is a testament to the actual quality being designed into many embedded systems.
    Then again, we have the inspiration from the general IT field where keeping software in beta stage with millions of users is considered cool and desirable (for example, google mail)…

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