DevOps allows smooth collaboration and communication between development and operations teams in today’s competing software development environments.
In DevOps, the two teams operate together, sharing responsibilities towards accomplishing their primary goal: regular and faster delivery of high-quality software that satisfies evolving customer requirements. DevOps practices, along with appropriate tools and technologies, encourage companies to accomplish tasks as efficiently as possible.
Some DevOps methods like Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery (CI/CD) encourage frequent software releases. That implies that testing performs an integral part in helping to manage software quality at each step of the development lifecycle.
How traditional testing worked
Software testing is not a new idea. But testing in a traditional environment seems very different from testing in a DevOps environment.
In the times of the traditional waterfall methodology, software testing seemed like this:
- Spanned only one stage of the life cycle
- Began after the software was developed completely
- Was a manual method that was highly error-prone and took a long time to perform
A huge difference is that software testers met on a separate team, separated from the development team. If any defect was recognized at the testing stage, it was challenging and costly to go back and do that change. The reason for that was fundamental: the particular error situations were to be well-identified at the beginning.
Under these conditions, it was hard to maintain the expected standard and quality within the expected timeline.
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Features of testing in a DevOps environment
Software testing developed considerably over the years after Agile started its rise. Since then, faster and collaborative testing approaches, tools, and technologies have been introduced to the testing sphere.
This is what testing in a DevOps environment seems like:
- Testing is a continuous and automated process that allows continuous and faster delivery of software.
- Testing spans each stage of the software development lifecycle (SDLC).
- Each step of the SDLC includes different forms of testing. This minimizes backtracking in the case that you’ve identified an error.
- Testing is no longer the duty of one particular team. Shared testing responsibilities enable everyone to understand the impacts behind each change.
DevOps adopts Shift Left Testing Approach
Importantly, DevOps culture the Shift Left testing approach, which conflicts with traditional environments where testing happens at the conclusion of the development.
Shift Left testing pushes the testing to the left, the earlier levels, of the software development process. There, testing is also begun when the development is commenced. This approach helps to recognize bugs as early as possible.
These inherent characteristics of a DevOps testing environment add significantly towards improving software quality. Still, the progress or failure of the testing strategy depends on how well companies implement DevOps best practices for testing.
DevOps Testing Best Practices
In this section, we will go through some best practices for testing that companies require to embrace in order to maximize their DevOps value.
Leverage test automation (smartly)
In a DevOps environment, developers regularly merge the code to a central repository. This implies that the code updates continuously through continuous integration (CI). To prevent the uncertainty of errors, you have to continuously test the code through various types of tests, including:
- Unit tests
- Functional tests
- Acceptance tests
- Integration tests
As a best practice, you can automate these tests to get quicker and earlier feedback on continuously integrated code. More successful DevOps teams have a greater percentage of automated test cases, and they have frequently integrated automation suites.
As you progress in the SDLC, test automation spans further from code level into areas like:
- API testing
- Performance testing
- Load testing
- Endurance testing
This doesn’t imply that everything in the testing scope should be automated. There should be some time for manual testing. This caution is necessary. If you automate a test process that isn’t important, you’re simply automating and adding more waste into the process.
Recommendations for efficient test automation include:
- Utilizing good, quality test data
- Identifying test cases that are great candidates for automation
- Running test cases in parallel to enhance automation speed
- Continually reviewing the testing plan with an up-to-date automated testing scope
Teams can often build and run more test cases to stop bugs by utilizing test automation intelligently.
Identify test automation engineers
While testing is a shared responsibility between every team, companies tend to use the particular expertise of test automation engineers to enhance the percentage of test automation coverage. For instance, a dedicated team of such engineers would play a vital role in accomplishing automation targets.
A good test automation engineer might be:
- A former manual tester who consequently learned to write automation scripts
- A software developer who qualified as an automation engineer
Test automation engineers develop the overall automation approach of the organization. They are responsible for:
- Recognizing automatable test scenarios
- Building automation scripts using a chosen test automation framework
- Discovering the tool that best fits your team or organization’s testing approach
Typically, through a software release, the automation engineer takes control in executing automated tests on the related environment and reporting any recognized bugs. Then they work closely with the development teams to discover the solutions to resolve those bugs. As part of their job, they clean up existing test cases according to the new modifications introduced to the system.
Select the right testing tools
To leverage the advantages of test automation, you need to integrate the appropriate testing tools for your organization—not some “best of” testing tools.
When picking a test automation tool, the first thing to assess is if your team has the required skills and expertise to use that tool. For instance, some open-source testing tools require a decent level of programming skills to utilize. Do your test engineers have this?
Then calculate the total cost of the tool, including training costs, updates, and maintenance, to view if it is within the testing budget. Always verify if decent technical support is available for the tools. If not, are you ready to service it yourself?
Automated testing tools should allow easy writing and execution of test cases without having to make complicated configurations. Here is a list of both open-source and commercial software testing tools that are generally being used by many companies.
Here are some of the most common test automation tools:
- Selenium is an open-source framework that essentially automates web application testing. It provinces a suite of software for different testing requirements. Selenium scripts can be written in various programming languages.
- Katalon Studio, listed among the best-automated testing software, has both free and paid versions. It can be utilized for automated web, API, desktop, and mobile testing. It supports multiple platforms.
- JMeter is a Java-based open-source software employed for performance and load testing. It can be practiced to test many protocol types.
- SoapUI assists you test REST, SOAP, and GraphQL APIs. It is another open-source, cross-platform automation tool that has a suitable graphical user interface (GUI).
Track performance with metrics
Using metrics to assess the success or failure of testing is another best practice. This practice allows management to get a clear picture of how the changes introduced to the software has affected the organization.
You can track key metrics such as:
- Number of test cases passed vs failed
- Number of defects identified
- Frequency of failing test cases
- Execution time of the automation suite
These metrics give insights into areas that are highly vulnerable to failures, and continuous testing generates immediate values for them. Metrics also allow teams to foresee if the number of defects will increase or decrease with more changes added to the system over time. Then, more innovative solutions can be employed to overcome failures.
Test execution time metrics help automation engineers to recognize better ways of writing test cases that enhance performance. As the execution of automation suits has become an important step of a software release, test execution metrics help to prepare the release timeline efficiently.
DevOps testing is key to high-quality software delivery
For many companies, DevOps is the ideal solution to become or stay, more competitive in your market. Continuous testing is a vital part of CI and CD pipelines that assists to deliver frequent, high-quality software.
The success of testing considerably depends on the best practices you select in your DevOps culture. Automation and its related tools are at the core of DevOps testing strategies.
At TestUnity, we strive for the highest quality in every project, and our professional QA specialists are ready to ensure it. Contact us if you’re looking for a dedicated team to enhance your product’s quality.
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