Here is an Excerpt from the book- "How we test Software at Microsoft ?"
How do you Test Hundreds of Modems ?
We needed to test model dial-up server scalability in Microsoft Windows NT Remote Access Server (RAS) with limited hardware resources. We had the money and lab infrastructure only for tens of modems, but we had a testability issue in that we needed to test with hundreds of modems to simulate real customer deployments accurately. The team came up with the idea to simulate a real modem in software and have it connect over Ethernet; we called in RASETHER. This test tool turned out to be a great idea because it was the first time anyone had created a private network with a network. Today, this technology is known as Virtual Private Network (VPN). What started as a scalability test tool for the Windows NT modem server became a huge commercial success and something we use every time we "tunnel" into the corporate network. - David Catlett, Test Architect
In my opinion, the above anecdote is really an inspiring one for Software testers. Here we are talking about the birth of a blockbuster technology that makes life easier for so many employees world wide (enabling them to work efficiently out of the office premises with same ease). And this technology- VPN was born as a result of an innovation done by a bunch of Software testers who were out there to solve a testability issue they faced because of crunch of resources.
A few learnings here-
The recent few years has been turbulent from economic stand point and virtually every organization were faced with cost cuts and Software testing industry is no different in this regard. The times when "Do more with less" is more a rule than norm, the above excerpt is quite inspirational. As a test engineer, even before asking for "more resources" to do your job, always ask yourself and explore all the possible sources till you get an answer to this question- "Is there a better way of doing things ?", "I believe there should be a cost effective way, i must find one.". Who knows, as you get an answer to these questions- more brighter are the chances that you will come up with better ways, almost always. Adversity does breed innovation!
I wish that more such possibilities are explored in 2010. Wish you a happy new year!