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Test Automation - A Recipe for Continuous Delivery Success

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Test Automation - A Recipe for Continuous Delivery Success

Test automation enables continuous delivery for more speed and flexibility. Learn about the challenges you may face to ensure you're doing it right.

· DevOps Zone ·
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The ability to bring new products and services to market faster than your competitors is a key differentiator for today’s digital enterprise. It isn’t surprising therefore that agile and DevOps initiatives are gaining increasing prominence. Software needs to be released on shorter and shorter cycles- with exceptional outliers like Amazon consistently releasing new builds into production every 11.6 seconds, and revolutionizing how software applications are developed and deployed.

The Importance of Continuous Testing & Test Automation

In order to realize the speed and flexibility of agile, businesses are increasingly turning to Continuous Testing. Only if testing is tightly connected to the business, development, and operations functions can Continuous Delivery be sustained. Integrating a robust testing process in the early stages of production ensures speedier recovery in case of any unanticipated events or defects in the product. This can be possible only through an end to end test automation strategy. Automation makes it possible to test fast and test early and gives stakeholders more accurate information on risk to high-value features, helping them make more informed decisions at the business level.  

Digital native companies like Netflix have been among the first to take advantage of rigorous, automated testing with a focus on defect prevention and assurance of Continuous Delivery confidence throughout the lifecycle. With sophisticated tests being completed automatically every 10 to 15 minutes, they are able to preemptively scan new code and send developers automated reports about the code segments that are most likely to throw up errors.

However, achieving successful test automation isn’t easy. That’s why test automation rates still average around 16% across the board, leaving a majority of businesses heavily reliant on manual processes.

What Are the Challenges in Test Automation?

Even if you might have all the preferred tools to enable automation at your disposal, the key question is: What to automate and how? Just like new parents who realize, to their dismay, that kids do not come with an instruction manual, the tools themselves do not throw light on what to automate. 100% automation is, of course, not an option; manual testing is still important in exploratory and regression testing at UI level. To make sure that your automation efforts pay off, you need to be strategic and carefully identify the application areas and test case parameters that are to be automatized.

Moreover, the creation of test environments and configuration of an effective automation framework also demands a lot of expertise and effort. As a matter of fact, the time and cost required to set up the right automation framework constitute the biggest pain point in achieving successful test automation. Plus, finding automation experts who come with the right skillsets to accurately set up and maintain test automation framework, build solutions, and resolve technical issues is also a challenge. Also important is the presence of a comprehensive test management platform, which can facilitate seamless collaboration between product managers, developers, and testers in a Continuous Delivery/Continuous Integration framework.

As teams focus on individual sprints, it is now common practice to just grab a tool, and then immediately run with it if it works or fall back on manual processes if it doesn’t. It is not surprising that QA as a whole is impacted negatively in the long run due to such practices. To deliver comprehensive automated testing capabilities needed for continuous quality, automation should be adopted early and in an in-depth manner- across application lifecycles and architecture layers– from the API to web, mobile, and custom/packaged app UIs, to BI and data warehouses. It should also enable agile development with automated build and deployment processes.

Conclusion

The demand for Continuous Testing is making test automation even more important—and, in many senses, more challenging. Driving true value from QA automation requires time, a well- planned strategy and a commitment to ensure that your automation testing efforts hold ground and keep delivering accurate, reliable results. Ultimately, testing is the ‘final frontier’ of sorts in terms of improving the overall software development lifecycle and realizing the benefits of agile.

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Topics:
continuous delivery ,continuous testing ,test automation ,automated testing ,devops ,quality assurance ,agile

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