How Continuous Testing in DevOps Enables Quality in the CI/CD Pipeline
An overview of the process of Continuous Testing and how this branch of DevOps can fit into your development process to create a better end product.
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We all understand the importance of software testing and how it transforms a business by enabling the delivery of quality products to clients in shorter delivery cycles. It's impossible to run test cases manually by evaluating the quality of each line of code at every step of the Continuous Delivery process. This is where Continuous testing in DevOps comes into the picture.
Continuous Testing in the DevOps Pipeline
In traditional ways of testing, software was passed through different development and QA phases which took more time until the final delivery of the product. According to research by Gartner, Continuous Testing in DevOps is aimed at providing early and quick detection of signs of risks related to the product release. DevOps Continuous Testing is an inevitable part, rather than just a stage, of the delivery process. The main purpose is to inculcate quality into the CI/CD pipeline by utilizing the key benefits of continuous testing in DevOps.
Continuous Testing is a critical aspect of DevOps, responsible for seamless Continuous Delivery. It involves the usage of agile development methods and processes in the QA process, which provides a more productive testing process.
Here are a few important benefits of Continuous Testing in DevOps.
a. Provides Sustained Risk Analysis
There has never been any code build that is error free and in a ready-to-release state. Even if the final product comes without any glitches and passes all the tests, it has to be ‘prepared well’ for the final release and approved by business leaders. Continuous Testing evaluates the code at a deeper level to estimate all the possible risks connected to it so that a corrective action could be taken at the right time without breaking the ‘continuous delivery’ chain.
b. Cuts Down the Feedback Cycle
The key benefit of continuous testing is that it evaluates the code, layer by layer, at each stage of the delivery pipeline, allowing testers to understand the source of the problem. Actionable insights help the QA team to act on time and avoid longer queues.
c. Broader Test Coverage
A broad range of tests can be applied throughout the testing process with the help of Continuous Testing tools for DevOps, such as Selenium. It covers both functional and non-functional testing types to increase test coverage by emulating tests like cross-browser testing, API testing, regression testing, integrated testing, unit testing as well as non-functional testing processes like security, reliability, scalability, usability, and more.
d. Delivering a High Quality Product
‘Test-early-test-often’ is the self explanatory mantra of Continuous Testing. In order to ensure delivery of a high-quality product to the end user, there needs to be a process to continuously monitor the progress along the entire delivery pipeline. Achieving high product quality is the result of Continuous Testing that strives to find and address risks effectively by gaining feedback in the early phases of software development lifecycle.
e. Faster Software Delivery
The whole point of introducing Continuous Testing in DevOps is to speed up the product delivery cycle. Following a multi-point testing strategy at different stages allows the QA team to detect any errors early on and take quick corrective action so that the final delivery is not impacted.
f. Easy Integration With the DevOps Process
Continuous Testing should be seamlessly integrated with the DevOps process right from the beginning of the development process rather than just before the release. Continuous Integration into the software pipeline enables quick fixes so that the development process can be aligned with the business requirements.
Tools for Continuous Testing in DevOps
For a seamless experience in the entire CI/CD process, Continuous Testing has to be supported by the best DevOps tools. For performing smooth Continuous Testing, an automation framework has to be integrated with the CI tool, as well as version control and various automated continuous testing tools to execute different types of testing at various stages of the process. For example:
- Using Selenium for functional testing.
- Load runners for performing load testing at its best.
- Secure code analysis using Fortify and static code analysis using Sonar.
Apart from these, there are many other trusted DevOps Continuous Testing tools available in the market for efficient Continuous Testing, like JIRA, Jenkins, Bamboo, Docker, Appium, SoapUI, PagerDuty, CodeCluster, etc. The concern is that not all the tools support comprehensive automation solutions. Some organizations prefer to create self-made automation frameworks, depending on the version control used to enable complete automation of the CD pipeline.
Since Continuous Testing is the most critical aspect covered by the business in order to achieve quality product release, it has to be backed by the right tools and frameworks to achieve speedy and quality delivery.
Challenges of DevOps Continuous Testing and How to Overcome Them
Even after understanding the advantages of adopting Continuous Testing in the DevOps process, many organizations face the challenges of successfully implementing it. Establishing an efficient automation framework is a daunting task, as it requires a huge investment. Moreover, organizations are not equipped with the scalable infrastructure to run tests continuously. Also, without a strong coordination among the product, development and testing team, this seems even tougher. Although there are challenges in successful adoption of Continuous Testing, with a little sensibility, one can overcome it. Here are a few of the key points to comply with in order to overcome the challenges:
- With proper team engagement, any cultural and communication barriers can be dealt with by enabling the SDLC team to have better coordination, collaboration, and understanding of various scenarios.
- Reducing unnecessary and extensive testing plans, the focus should be on keeping it simple and logical. Instead, the energy could be diverted to more important test objects in order to create much better, and measurable, results.
- Automation can ease the successful implementation of Continuous Testing in DevOps. Well, complete automation isn’t achievable, but, the more process automation, the easier it becomes to carry on the Continuous Testing.
- Carrying out testing at all stages of production and QA would continuously provide feedback to developers to improve on the product's quality.
- Last, but not the least, implementing artificial intelligence and other intelligence programs for problem solving and thinking beyond automation at every stage of delivery would provide a boost to the SDLC.
By now, we all know how significant Continuous Testing is for DevOps in any business. It essentially brings together all the stages of design, development, and deployment of software. Merely providing a software product does not help, but providing a great product faster than your competitors is a key differentiator for any successful business.
Published at DZone with permission of Bala Murugan. See the original article here.
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