In order to stay ahead of the competition, software vendors need to deliver a high quality product in the least possible time. To make this happen, they have to fundamentally modify their development as well as testing methodologies enabling product development teams to work more closely with testers. DevOps is one such methodology that transforms the software development process by improving collaboration between developers and testers.
A key aspect of DevOps is that deployments are made continuously and incrementally. Testing thus becomes continuous and exhaustive and hence demands greater level of automation. Manual testing uses up resources at the same time any untested or faulty code can mitigate the benefits of DevOps. This is why testing automation is required.
Key benefits of Test Automation:
- Reduced time to market: : Automation tests provide better test coverage in reduced time periods which otherwise would require far bigger testing timelines if done manually.
- Increased test coverage: This is one of the key deliverables that test automation provides. With the existing development processes wherein there are numerous code components and increased communication between systems, manual testing might not be able to fulfill the testing requirements. Especially while testing voluminous databases and web based applications the test scenarios become quite complex and repetitive and the best way to ensure complete test coverage is through automation which can be checked through code coverage techniques.
- Reduced costs: This is yet another obvious deliverable since you require lesser number of manual testers, reduced time and reduced unidentified bugs and lesser risk of flawed products before release.
Test Automation is clearly a vital part of the overall DevOps process. It is imperative to ensure that incremental code changes work, integrate well and do not blow up the final product. Testing architects play an extremely important role here during test design, automation and test case scripting with DevOps.
DevOps methodology makes testing an important part of the software development process while developing new features, implementing changes and enhancements, along with testing the changes made in the production software. Even though this looks quite simple, it may require few changes to be met before implementing automated testing in a DevOps environment. These changes may lead to challenges, some of which are discussed below.
- Advanced testing teams: The DevOps model requires testing teams with a different approach and an ability to accommodate accelerated testing methods – which is not easy to achieve. Testers are now supposed to co-exist with developers and other stakeholders in DevOps instead of being in the back end waiting for developers to deliver the build. Testers now need to be aware of the business objectives and be able to comprehend dependencies of project requirements on other functions. Along with this they need to have better understanding of user stories and acceptance criteria and better communication and analytical skills.
- Modified Testing process: Since DevOps requires extended integration of the development and testing teams, it means testers need to have greater understanding of the business systems being tested. They need to adapt the Product Lifecycle mindset instead of the traditional SDLC model that they have been following. An expert Test Architect would be required as part of the testing team to select the most apt testing tools, define best practices for Continuous Integration and integrate the test automation platform with the build deployment tool for better reporting. A significant change in the way testing and development works together has to be devised with the – one team mentality.
- Testing Tools: Traditional test tools were based on milestones no longer relevant in the DevOps model. Some tools can be used only when the software build is completely delivered while others could be employed only when the software has settled and evolved. These tools are of little use in the DevOps environment since they end up failing the whole purpose of DevOps. DevOps environment require testing tools which are fluid, can link end user stories to test cases, help manage test cycles and execute test cases in real time. These tools need to be extremely fast, transparent and unveil all bugs along the test cycle that impede the automation process.
Test Automation is extremely important for the DevOps model but as mentioned above, it is important that we overcome the challenges in getting automation working right in DevOps.