Over the last few years I have performed many Multi-Vendor projects that have required Interoperability testing, or IOT testing as it is also know as. In a Multi-Vendor environment it doesn't matter how thorough the project solution is planned when it comes to connecting Multi-Vendor products together there are, in 9 cases out of ten, "Interoperability" problems. Here are a few thoughts from four different technology areas that I have experienced;
Radio Access Network IOT
With the strength of OEMs such as China`s Huawei increasing each year it is common for the most loyal of customers to introduce other vendors products into their networks. When this happens they perform Multi-Vendor Integration projects and part of the project is; IOT testing.
With RAN products such as the 3G WCDMA Radio Network Controllers (RNC) the IOT testing is concerned with the handover of traffic from one vendors RNC to the other. It is usual for both OEMs to have a project team and in several cases although we are integrating towards each other the customer will instruct us that we cannot communicate (speak) to each other! Understanding the frustrations of the engineers a good Project Manager will accidentally bump into the other team in the canteen.
Access Network IOT
Unlike legacy PSTN switches which commonly have command line interfaces the Access network nodes tend to have more of a Graphical User Interface. Within these GUI (gooey) interfaces there are frequently selectable node types that the user can click on or select so that the node will auto configure the interface to the switch type selected. For example; the Alcatel Litespan Access node has a pre-configured S12 interface. This makes life easy for the O&M or Integration engineer. Point it towards an MV environment however and you could end up learning how to use a protocol analyser.
PSTN Network IOT
PSTN interoperability testing tests whether the V5 protocol can function correctly with the intended target node(s) interface environment, i.e, the target node(s) interface hardware, software or firmware.
Usually there are less than a dozen individual parameters that will need setting (matching) on either side of a V5.x protocol link. The most well known being the Variant ID, Link ID, etc (ref. wiki).
Where specified, pre-agreed test cases require that combinations of the intended target nodes environment is configured and available to the test team. The test case results are normally measured or compared with the existing interface(s) as part of the acceptance criteria.
Multi Vendor Repair Capability & IOT
Planning a "new repair capability" development project from scratch is one thing. It always seems to work on paper. Realising a "working" new repair capability from scratch is another thing all together.
In all cases the solution needs to achieve a level of working operation to enable the repair technicians to repair down to component level.
Interoperability can be a tough phase during the development.