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The end of the line for the original Test Automation vendors?
The genesis for this post is twofold: (1) the news last week that MicroFocus was purchasing the non-core assets from HPE's software group, including the testing tools that had come from HP's acquisition of Mercury-Interactive ten years ago, and (2) the 20th anniversary of my company, which was born around these tools (see posting) has me waxing nostalgic.
When I started in the test automation business way back in 1994, there were 2 main software vendors and one up-and-coming one. SQA, out of Woburn, MA, and Mercury-Interactive, out of Israel by way of Sunnyvale, CA, were the leaders with Segue Software out of Lexington, MA as the upstart. They were the early testing tools on the Windows platform (other tools already existed on the Unix and mainframe platforms).
I started out supporting SQA Robot, an automated functional testing tool, which competed head-to-head with Mercury-Interactive's Winrunner and Segue's QAPartner. This was before load testing tools had made their way into the test automation suite on the Windows platform. If you could make any of these tools work, you could command top dollar in the industry. I built our entire company around supporting these tools and as the market grew, so did the vendors (and our) success.
Bigger firms took notice and the acquisitions began. The first was in 1997 when SQA was acquired by Rational Software, a much larger development company out of California. And Compuware, the mainframe software company from Detroit, MI bought Direct Technology and Promark in 1997 to join the PC market for automated testing (QARun, QALoad and QADirector). Mercury-Interactive became the juggernaut of the testing industry, owning as much as 65% of the automated testing industry. Their offerings - WinRunner, LoadRunner and TestDirector - dominated the testing landscape for years, culminating with their CEO, Amnon Landan, being named "Entrepreneur of the Year" by Forbes in 2003 (see image above).
In 2003, the big boys hopped into the fray. IBM purchased Rational Software for $2.1 billion. Microsoft launched their answer in 2006 with testing tools in their Visual Studio suite, Borland, the famous Integrated Development Environment (IDE) company, bought Segue Software for $100 million and in 2006 HP bought Mercury-Interactive in a $4.5 billion acquisition. All were integrating the testing tools into full fledged application development lifecycle (now called ALM) offerings. Automated testing and its toolsets had become mainstream.
The advent of a platform shift from the Wintel monopoly - fat clients and local PCs/servers - to the web, then mobile and now the cloud made it difficult for these big vendors to stay relevant. Offerings from a myriad of smaller, more focused competitors along with price pressure from SaaS started chipping away at the market share for these traditional vendors. And of course, the open source movement, with Selenium, JMeter and other offerings that were free for companies to use, started slowly at first, building awareness, competency and eventually mainstream adoption.
In 2009, Micro Focus, a UK-based mainframe company bought all of Borland and bought Compuware's windows-based automated testing tools. There were many overlaps between Compuware's and Segue's tools, so the Compuware tools lost out.
And last week MicroFocus announced the purchase of part of HPE's software division, including the Mercury-Interactive tools. While some of the fragments of the tools that we had started with way back in 1994 will remain in the MicroFocus and IBM offerings, it really marks the end of the original tools and companies that we had known and worked with for a generation.
RIP - testing tools from SQA, Mercury and Segue (and Compuware). We will all miss those early days and early tools.
Any comments or reminiscing from those of you who used these tools "back in the day"? It would be fun to hear. Please comment. Thanks!
I remember after switching from Winrunner to QTP, how I missed the GUI map in Winrunner. The original object repository in QTP was a mess.
Patience is like bread I say.... I ran out of that yesterday.
I missed the script/function/line call stack down to the line number in WinRunner. I still cannot programmatically get to the line number when a script fails.
I never fully understand how the different views of the QTP/UFT Object Repository are managed. When the object is local it is bold or something like that. The merges are also confusing.
When in Florida, Don't Tampa with the code. I made this up.