How To Implement Continuous Testing In DevOps Like A Pro
For a full-fledged DevOps workflow, continous testing is a must.
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In a decade, the need for software development has evolved drastically. The software has become a key differentiator for companies to gain a competitive edge, especially if your company falls under the SaaS umbrella. From the implementation of traditional processes such as a waterfall in their SDLC, organizations are now transitioning towards Agile in order to deliver software at a faster pace in the market. To cope up with RAD (Rapid Application Development), we have witnessed numerous new approaches such as CI/CD, DevOps, and Shift Left testing to build, develop and optimize software delivery. Even so, trying to maintain both quality and speed is a real challenge, and testing methodologies can either aid or downshift this whole acceleration process. Today, we are going to look into the importance of Continous Testing in DevOps. In this article, I will be talking about what continuous testing is all about. I will also help clear the fog around the myths associated with continuous testing. We will also be touching the challenges involved in continuous testing in DevOps, and best practices to help you execute the continuous testing process as a professional.
What Is Continuous Testing?
Continuous testing is an end-to-end quality maintenance process in which teams carry out a broad range of automated tests on an ongoing basis. Simultaneously, analyzing various business risks associated with the latest software development and providing the developers with quick feedback. This feedback helps to identify defects and errors at a very early stage and encourages developers to optimize their code during successive stages of the SDLC (Software Development Life Cycle).
Unlike legacy testing methods which deliver results at the end of the development cycle, continuous testing takes place at several stages, including development, integration, the staging environment, and production environment. Continuous testing ensures that defects and issues are tackled in the development process much earlier, improving overall quality and saving considerable time and money.
Benefits Of Continuous Testing
Conventional testing techniques depend heavily on manual testing, and automated tests requiring regular updates may hold back the speed of the delivery process. This is where modern-day methodologies such as Agile, DevOps, Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery steps in.
Implementing continuous testing in DevOps can be fruitful in the following ways:
- Continuous analysis of risks: It is possible to have a version of build (a release candidate) that passes all the tests available but is not prepared for release by business leaders. Continuous testing evaluates these risks at each and every stage.
- User experience is kept in mind: Continuous testing is a process which can easily adapt to ever-changing customer requirements. With constant updates made in the application based on customer feedback, integrating continuous testing with DevOps can help keep your software become more robust and stable, providing you the flexibility to write effective test cases from the customer’s perspective. Performing the right tests with respect to user experience is crucial to evaluate end-user experience across all related technologies, both front-end, and back-end.
- Aiding security: Continuous testing establishes a support system that ensures the safety of application from unexpected changes and attacks, which can be encountered post-deployment as well. In accelerated development processes, it makes sure that system is stable and recoverable even in case of software failures.
- Continuous Integration from the beginning: Continuous testing expects testing to be embedded right from the early stages of the development process, instead of handling them right before the release. Testing gets integrated continuously into the software delivery pipeline and DevOps toolchain.
- Covers functional and non-functional testing: Continuous testing emulates all types of functional testing like cross-browser testing, regression testing, integrated testing, API testing, unit testing, and, non-functional testing like usability testing, security testing, reliability testing, scalability testing, and many more.
- Timely feedback without creating any bottleneck: Continuous testing evaluates each layer of modern architecture at the appropriate stage of the delivery pipeline and delivers actionable feedback at the right stage of the delivery pipeline without creating long queues.
- Saves time, money and resources: Finding bugs early can not only save your release window bandwidth but would also help you in saving a lot of money and resource. Continuous testing reduces the time and resources invested in finding and fixing defects by using defect prevention strategies like development testing or shift-left testing.
Myths Related To Continuous Testing In DevOps
- “Will lead to unemployment of testers”: Testers have a one-of-a-kind point of view on the framework—they see how clients interface with it. Although automation is progressing at a rapid pace, it still hasn’t reached that level where it completely replaces manual testing. The whole point of bringing in automation is to provide more time windows for manual testers to come up with more effective test scenarios. There are still important manual activities such as exploratory testing and usability testing; testers ought to be performing them continuously as a feature of their work. Surely, they need to acquire effective skills as a software tester.
- “Only testers contribute to continuous testing”: Some or all parts of continuous testing are critical for any type of team and their team members. For example, having testers pair alongside developers may enable them to create advanced suites of automated tests. That way, developers get the opportunity to comprehend the testers’ point of view, and testers can also learn and improve their test automation skills.
- “Continuous testing means executing test cases continuously”: As I have already explained, continuous testing has more to it. Not only does it performs both functional and non-functional testing, but continuous testing also embraces everything from shift-left (unit, component, coverage, integrated risk assessment) to “shift right” (monitoring/APM, Testing in Production, Customer experience, virtualized testing).
- “Continuous testing and automation testing are same”: Through automation, businesses are trying to implement the Agile testing strategy — "test early, test often, and test everywhere", up to some extent. Lengthy test scripts are automated and updated on a regular basis, and with the help of automation testing tools, automation testing is being used to perform continuous testing, mitigating manual errors. However, keep in mind that automation testing and test automation slightly differs. Through test automation, one ensures how rapidly and efficiently the whole delivery process through pipeline takes place. While automated testing automates the traditional method of testing test automation automates the entire process of managing and tracking the different tests. Continuous testing embraces both, test automation and automation testing for maintaining quality as well as speed. Automation testing is a subset of continuous testing, they shouldn’t be confused as same.
Challenges With Continuous Testing In DevOps
- Huge one-time investment: Constructing test environments and setting up an automation framework requires a great deal of expertise and effort. The greatest difficulties in obtaining test automation coverage are the time and costs associated with the establishment of an efficient automation framework. In order to achieve the test automation project, a comprehensive test management platform such as JIRA, Asana, and so on, simplifies this process.
- Testing broad complex architectures: Modern applications are widely distributed and the adoption of Agile and parallel development processes is increasing, it is common for end-to-end functional tests to require access to third-party services or mainframes that are available for testing only in a limited capacity or at inconvenient times. This problem can be addressed by simulating the AUT (Application Under Test) interactions with missing or unavailable dependencies using service virtualization. It can also be used to ensure that data, performance, and behavior throughout the various test runs are consistent.
- Inextensible test suites: Another reason that teams avoid continuous testing is that their infrastructure is not scalable enough to run the test suite continuously. This problem can be solved by focusing the tests on the priorities of the company, splitting the test base and parallelizing the tests with application release automation tools.
- Lack of coordination amongst teams: Finding the right automation expert is also a challenge. Continuous testing in DevOps demands a high level of coordination between product managers, developers, and testers. Coordination is one area where most companies struggle. There has always been a cultural disconnect amongst them; QA teams have been siloed, but this can be resolved with proper employee engagement strategies and awareness.
Key Notes For Successful Continuous Testing In DevOps
- Create strong user stories: Continuous testing means carrying quality and granular testing from the very beginning. Make sure you get good business requirements to start development. Ensure user stories are testable and have a good set of acceptance criteria. Adopting a more exploratory attitude to test manually might help to get good results.
- Collaborate: From a cultural point of view, continuous testing in DevOps is successful if everyone exhibits quality and cooperation among the team. Test cases are described before coding is started or tests are written as necessary. In any case, developers and test automation architects should work together to ensure that the code for test automation is optimized. Teams may also cooperate on test results using tools like Slack to speed feedback and debugging.
- Keep it simple and logical: Reduce unnecessary test objects, such as extensive test plans and test cases, and reduce test waiting times. Tests should be consistent, incremental and reproducible; results should be quantifiable and meaningful.
- Test everywhere: Testing must be carried out at all stages of the delivery pipeline, covering all the aspects of the entire environment be it production or QA environment. By testing at each and every stage and continuously providing feedback to the developers can help in improving the quality of software development.
- Automate your testing: Automation testing plays a major hand towards a successful implementation of continuous testing in DevOps. It is vital to stick with a test automation pyramid and to focus on automating test scripts with the latest updates in a web application as well. 100% automation isn’t achievable but the more you can automate your process, the faster you can perform continuous testing.
- Embrace CI/CD (Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery): Developers should adopt continuous integration – by integrating code several times a day into shared repositories such as Bitbucket and GitHub. When automated testing is implemented with a CI server, continuous testing immediately starts for each build. Warnings, with passing or failing test results, can be delivered in real time directly to the development team. By integrating regularly, you can quickly detect and locate errors more easily. Once all the tests have been completed, updates can be delivered to production continuously without hesitation.
- Choose API over GUI: DevOps and Agile teams working with short release cycles, fast feedback loops, and frequent changes find difficulty in maintaining GUI tests. GUI testing takes longer time in providing feedback and requires a lot of rework. For modern applications with multitier architectures, it is important to verify backend services and functional paths; API testing is more stable and recommended for this. Where GUI testing is limited to system testing, mobile testing, black-box testing, API testing involves many practices such as unit testing, functional regression testing, load testing, security testing, web interoperability testing, and many more.
- Think beyond automation: Just like human brain works, implementing artificial intelligence(AI) and designing intelligent machines (with help of IoT, quantum computing, robotics etc.) that perform heuristic thinking of each and every stage of the delivery pipeline can accelerate the entire SDLC.
To move quickly and deliver faster results, we have to guarantee that we are building the correct product from the very beginning. Revamping the production for a bug fix is never considered as an easy task, as defects found later in the pipeline can be expensive to fix. Rather, testing in the right manner with a synchronized delivery process, (CI/CD, DevOps), testing methodologies (API testing, service virtualization), stable test platforms and automating functional as well as non-functional aspects of testing, must be adopted.
Merging the traditional disconnect amongst teams, testers and developers can learn and execute successful automation scripts with the right expertise, and optimize the software architecture easily.
Continuous testing in DevOps is a major (but not the not the only) way of continuous quality. It is the step towards a product of higher quality through continuous delivery.
And once continuous testing in DevOps is achieved, an ideal opportunity to consider different ways that don’t include running tests to recognize defects or issues, but to keep defects from ever being coded, arises. This way, developers are encouraged to build the defect-free products right from the start.
Published at DZone with permission of Priyal Mangla. See the original article here.
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