Virtusa has been applying and contributing to Open Source R&D for quite a long time now, from Apache contributions on Web Services, to the Sahana Disaster Management project in the wake of the Tsunami and most recently to OLPC. In the case of OLPC through with our experience with Open Source, we realized that there is much opportunity to contribute to Quality Assurance (QA) as most often Open Source volunteers are motivated rather by the research and development side of the project and there often is not enough focus on QA. Yet projects like OLPC and Sahana have a global impact and in the latter case needs to be mission critical, thus the quality and stability of the system should be a very important part of the project.
Why OLPC? Well despite the challenges OLPC foundation has had based on their policy for deployment (e.g arrangements only with Govs and not with the private sector for deployment), their mission to empower children is certainly very honorable and something that should be supported by all of us to help bridge the digital divide. It also has to be noted that some people have mis-understood the OLPC. It is supposed to be a tool that will supplement (and not replace) existing education systems and empower especially children in rural communities, who otherwise would not have access to IT or IT teachers for learning, enabling them to learn for themselves. OLPC also has had a much broader indirect impact, as it has been a flagship product that greatly helped bring about the netbook revolution and simply the existence of the OLPC and it’s $100 target has certainly helped drive down costs and have got people thinking about other low-cost solutions for educating children in rural communities. This competition is healthy and it will certainly progress further with the upcoming releases of the OLPC 1.5 and OLPC 2.0 (touch based, iPad like laptop), embodying a lot of lessons from the deployment of the first OLPC 1.0s.
Overall Virtusans volunteers have spent about 40 man months on the project so far delivering about 800 test cases. A good deal of time was spent learning how the system is supposed to work, especially as Open Source projects typically do not have well defined requirement specifications and Use Cases, which are normally used by our teams to derive test cases in client projects. But now we do have sufficient knowledge to quickly nurture new contributors and we presently have volunteers in India and Sri Lanka contributing off our spare QA capacity on the project. One area we are specifically looking at now is test automation on the Redhat based sugar operating system as a mechanism for providing more efficiency for testing new builds.
Virtusa and Virtusans will continue to help OLPC achieve their goals by supporting the team with QA contributions as part of our Corporate Social Responsibility in a initiative we call Tech Reach.