Cool Solutions

Getting on a closed beta program



January 18, 2007 3:12 pm





I blogged a few weeks ago about the ZENworks ‘Pulsar’ beta program. We were flooded with requests.

Unfortunately not all respondants will be selected for the program.

I received one mail that said:

I keep applying for beta – why don’t I get accepted? How can I get on a beta program?

This post will look into the beta program in more detail – and answer the questions above.

Posted at: Draper, UT

First let’s look at why we run closed beta programs.

The primary reason is to test out all of the features of a new release of a product before general availability.

Some beta programs last for weeks; others for months. (The Microsoft Windows Vista beta program lasted for over a year.) During this time the beta program manager will run weekly calls asking testers to try specific areas of functionality. During a longer beta program there may be several releases of the software – “beta 1”, “beta 2” and then a “release candidate”. Each release improves on the one before.

The other reason for testing with customers is to find all of the issues in a real world environment. Novell tests extensively internally – including scale and performance tests in the SuperLab – but nothing compares to the quirks of your environments.

The beta survey is the first step to the closed beta program. This is where you give information on why you want to help test and what your environment looks like. Usually we ask about your servers, desktops and infrastructure. We also ask how much time you can give to test.

We then take the results of the surveys and start sorting.

Novell is very selective in who we release preview and beta technologies to. We prefer independent corporate entities to participate; we do not select competitors, press or those just looking to ‘kick the tyres’.

Second we are looking for certain profiles of customers; of a certain size, OS mix, site numbers, WAN infrastructure. These change with the various programs.

Thirdly we select based on past performance. Good closed beta customers often come from the public betas.

So my top tips for getting onto a Novell beta?

  • Let us know why your environment helps us test. Are you able to dedicate a lot of time, or do you have an interesting configuration?
  • Be realistic about the time you can spend testing.
  • Join a public beta program and share information back to the product teams. Your comments are heard. Vocal testers tend to ‘self-select’ for future betas.
  • If you get selected for a closed beta – use it to mutual advantage. Let us know what is good or bad about the product. Use it. Test it. Again – good beta testers move to the top of the list for the next program.
  • Use your Novell contacts to advocate for you. Account managers, technical specialists, support people – they can all recommend.

If you have more questions about the beta programs run by Novell – stop by the Novell beta programs booth at BrainShare this year!

Posted at: Draper, UT

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  1. By:Geoffrey Carman

    Having been on a couple of closed betas, I have to say, while the requirements (10 hours a week of testing time) look reasonable, it is a huge commitment, and a lot of work! The more complex the product, the harder the testing is! I actually have a hard time visualizing properly beta testing a product as complex as Zenworks Pulsar, and I have worked on the DirXML/IDM betas, which are huge products in themselves!

    Having said that, if you can do it, it is really worth it. Shockingly nice feeling to see bugs listed in release notes or patches and know, thats MY bug!

  2. By:Paul DeSousa

    Just so I “Pulsar” now the new name for “Brimstone”?

  3. Brimstone is the project name for the architecture of the next version of ZENworks.

    Pulsar is the project name for the next product that will ship on that architecture; we are targetting mid 2007.

  4. […] One comment on my previous post about beta programs triggered this post. Just so I “Pulsar” now the new name for “Brimstone”? […]

  5. By:René

    Did you planning a public beta phase? If yes, did it start after brainshare?