What is Service Virtualization?

You’d be hard-pressed to find a team of software engineers anywhere without hearing the words “service virtualization” echoing somewhere in the vicinity. It’s become a buzzword in the industry and with good reason. Service virtualization is often commended for its ability to simulate the behaviors of application components in a “live” environment, allowing development teams to carry out more thorough testing or work with limited resources.

However, despite the inherent advantages, few organizations use service virtualization in their application development and testing. In this article we’ll examine the benefits of service virtualization in more detail, giving businesses that might be sitting on the fence a real reason to take those first steps.

What is Service Virtualization?

Service virtualization is a simulation technology that lets testers automatically execute tests even when an application’s dependent system components can’t be easily accessed or configured for testing. By simulating these dependencies, service virtualization technologies ensure that tests will be based on appropriate dependency behavior and data, every time the test is run

Service virtualization is typically used when a test needs to interact with dependent system components that are:

  • Unreliable, evolving, or not yet finished
  • Outside the scope of the tester’s control or operated by another company or division
  • Available for testing only at inconvenient times or in limited capacities
  • Difficult to provision or configure in a testing environment
  • Too restricted or too costly to use for automated regression testing
  • Simultaneously required by multiple testers using different test data setups and other requirements

service virtualization

How does it work?

Service virtualization tools monitor traffic between the dependent system and the application. They use log data to build a model that can replicate the dependent system’s responses and behavior, using inputs such as SQL statements for databases and Extensible Markup Language (XML) messages for web services. As developers test the new application, the virtualized service produces the same responses that the real one would.

Developers use this simulation to test how a new application, service, or feature integrates with existing infrastructure. Service virtualization removes a significant development bottleneck by ensuring testers don’t have to wait to begin testing. This allows teams to release products with fewer defects, on time without disrupting service.

Testers can also build in special cases that simulate high traffic volume or slow connections. Once the application is ready for integration, developers can replace the simulation with the real thing.

Benefits of Service Virtualization

As per a Gartner survey conducted among 500+ organizations, the highlighted benefits are:

  • Increase in test rates
  • Reduction in test cycles by nearly 50%
  • Reduction in system defects by 40%

In a complex testing environment, virtualization can help with:

  • Better collaboration and reuse.
  • Flexible virtual service creation.
  • Thorough testing of business logic.
  • Continuous testing.
  • Strong component integration.
  • Reduced time and project cost.

Why is it important?

To achieve quality at speed, it’s essential to have unrestrained access to a trustworthy and realistic test environment. It’s important to recognize that a complete test environment includes the application under test (AUT) and all of its dependent components such as APIs, third-party services, databases, applications, and other endpoints.

Service virtualization enables DevTest teams to get access to a complete test environment, including all critical dependent system components, as well as alter the behavior of those dependent components in ways that would be impossible with a staged test environment — enabling you to test earlier, faster, and more completely. It also allows you to isolate different layers of the application for debugging and performance testing.

service virtualization

The Future of Service Virtualization

Naturally, the biggest reason for using service virtualization is to save time and money by catching development errors early in production, as well as bypassing the need to set up an expensive test lab. Popular service virtualization software applications can run on common, affordable hardware, and the virtual testing environments you establish can be easily modified and recycled to suit different needs over time. Whether or not your organization needs to invest in a service virtualization solution, however, will depend on your own cost-benefit analysis. But if quality assurance is an important component of both your business model and software development life cycle, you may want to give it some serious thought. Virtualizing your API itself can also be a huge cost saver.

In this ever-accelerating era of web-based services and mobile applications, where an end-user’s personal perception of your offering can count for more than anything else, it’s important to have developers, testers, sysadmins, and business stakeholders united in a shared understanding of the importance of software quality. But it’s equally important for teams to be able to work together as rapidly and expediently as possible. As various agile workflow methodologies become the norm, the skillful use of a tool like service virtualization – which encourages teams to engage in parallel development tasks, and “bakes in” testing from day one – will be a deciding factor in setting a production team apart from the equally fast-paced competition. From here on out, the teams that best employ virtual services may gain the upper hand.


Service virtualization has played a vital role in the software development and testing ecosystem for over 20 years.

But enterprises need a lightweight virtual services solution that is simpler to use and more cost-effective, while fully integrating with the rest of your testing. Organizations need to eliminate the bottlenecks that come with traditional options and shift service virtualization to the left.


Other Articles

Website Migration Checklist: Top things you should do

If you’re switching web hostings, changing domains,... Jun 18, 2024

Website Migration: Why do you need it?

As your website grows in size and... Jun 17, 2024

Domain vs Hosting: Understanding the Difference

As you prepare to build a website,... Jun 16, 2024

Traditional Hosting vs Cloud Hosting: What’s The Difference?

Cloud Hosting uses virtual servers, and resources... Jun 15, 2024

What is a Content Management System (CMS)?

Since the beginning of the web, content... Jun 14, 2024

What is cPanel? Why do you need it for your business?

Whenever we talk about web hosting and... Jun 13, 2024

What is Web Host Manager (WHM)?

When it comes to web hosting, control... Jun 12, 2024

SSD Hosting: Why do you need it?

Proper SSD hosting is a necessary foundation... Jun 11, 2024

Related posts

Website Migration Checklist: Top things you should do

If you’re switching web hostings, changing domains, or moving to a new CMS, you might...

Website Migration: Why do you need it?

As your website grows in size and complexity, there may come a time when a...

Domain vs Hosting: Understanding the Difference

As you prepare to build a website, you'll come across two terms: domain and hosting....