DevOps is a progressively common approach to agile software development that developers and operations teams use to build, test, deploy, and monitor applications with speed, quality, and control. While focusing on rapid IT service delivery through the adoption of agile and lean practices in the context of a system-oriented approach, DevOps implementation deploys automation tools to control a dynamic and programmable infrastructure from a life-cycle point of view.
Software testing in DevOps has emerged as an automated test process that provides feedback at every checkpoint. It requires integration testing on the build server along with functional testing, regression testing, and many more on the test server. Also, the need for deployment testing on the staging server is something that cannot be ignored. So how does continuous testing fit in the picture? Let us explore what role continuous testing plays in DevOps.
The role of continuous testing in DevOps
In software engineering, continuous testing is a process of testing early, testing often, testing everywhere, and automating. In this form of testing, developers have low-friction testing capabilities and tools and are expected to unit test any new or updated code. With testing shifted all the way left to developers in pre-production, and all the way right to post-production monitoring, organizations now can prove whether a code is ready and will work to acceptable service levels in just a few seconds.
Although continuous testing today has become more of standard practice, it presents a few unique challenges as well for execution. The process involves several stakeholders like an Operational system, DevOps, QA, and a Developer.
In the traditional way of testing, the software used to be transferred within teams. A project would have development and QA phases, where the QA teams have always to spend more time to ensure quality in the project schedule. However, with the advancement in time, business owners started looking for faster delivery of software. The newer the software, the higher became the chances of marketing it, giving rise to a new way of testing evolved, eventually making way for continuous testing. Thanks to this form of testing, undisrupted testing can now be done continuously.
Implementing a continuous testing policy
Here are five steps to consider while implementing a continuous testing policy:
Structure the Test Plan Early
The absence of a proper scoping and knowing the test requirements can lead to loss of time and delays. Behavior-Driven Development (BDD), Acceptance Test-Driven Development (ATDD), and model-based testing tools can help in proper documentation and communication. Also, defining the test cases along with the creation of test scripts ahead of time, allows a tester to enable continuous testing of code at all stages of production.
Developing the Test Processes
Here the focus is to save time, money, and resources by restricting what needs to be tested. Having visual models enables a user to know the various paths to be explored and optimized, so that maximum coverage could be obtained from the tests, without involving any unnecessary testing. It is also advised to import test cases, by removing duplicates, and at the same time distributing and allocating optimized test cases in existing tools.
Having a Shift-Left and Shift-Right Testing Approach
Shift-left testing refers to running the tests earlier in the development cycle. Developers test as they progress with test automation and for this, they require developer-friendly tools for easy adoption and use. By deploying the shift-right testing, a tester can continue to test through the production as well as the post-production stage, along with continuous monitoring. According to a recent report from Gartner, the shift-right testing method is now a “must” for adopting DevOps practices.
Prepare Complete Test Environments
Removing blocs and reducing wait times by providing complete test environments on-demand, with dev-friendly tools (infrastructure as code, CI/CD integrations, and any open source support). The test environment should include test data on demand and enable teams to perform comprehensive tests with production-like data. These environments should be temporarily ready on-demand, to support the requirement and can be discarded later.
Obtaining the Right Test Data
To accurately test a new functionality, the test data should be close to what the application encounters during production. If the test data is deficient in understanding the real-world characteristics like data specifications, actual fields, negative scenarios, etc., the test results are likely to have potential issues or the application can break where there are weak points.
Production data is considered to be the best data to use for testing, but team silos and data privacy regulations often restrict its easy availability. Having a robust test data management tool and protect any sensitive information while maintaining the required standards, makes the production data highly desirable for testing.
Tools for continuous testing
Here is a list of some of the most popular continuous testing tools:
Query Surge: It is a smart data testing and a full DevOps solution. Some of the key features of this tool include a robust API, data analytics, detailed data intelligence, and a seamless integration into the DevOps pipeline for continuous testing. It can also verify large amounts of data quickly.
Jenkins: It is a continuous integration tool and can be configured via using the GUI interface or the console commands.
Travis: A GitHub hosted continuous testing tool that offers hosted and on-premises variants. It also provides a variety of different languages and good documentation.
Azure DevOps: It is a Microsoft owned, end-to-end DevOps and project management tool. In addition to all the key features of DevOps, Azure DevOps also provides required hardware infrastructure over the cloud to manage the DevOps tasks such as building and testing.
Benefits of continuous testing
- Improves code quality
- Helps evaluate and remove any business risks
- Accelerates time-to-market by providing continuous feedback
- Merges different teams to meet the modern enterprise need by removing any disconnect between development, testing, and operations teams
- Provides access to abundant test environment along with service virtualization
Challenges in implementing continuous testing
- Lack of DevOps skills and finding the tools for testing in Agile and DevOps
- Test environments that never reflects the actual production environment
- Routine testing process and not so robust test data management system
- Integration issues and late defect fixes due to longer code integration cycles
- Less availability of effective resources and test environments
- The complex application architecture along with the business logic restricts DevOps adoption
As organizations chase tight deadlines and faster delivery methods today, adopting the right technique and tools in the early stages will help the testers and developers to solve the complex cases and incidents of continuous testing effectively. Contact us to know more about how to develop the ideal way for continuous testing and ensure smooth and quick delivery of a quality product.
By: Rajashekher Reddy Tekulapally