5 ways QA can help you accelerate and improve your DevOps CI/CD cycle

QA in Devops CI/CD

A practical and thorough testing strategy is essential to keep your evolving application up to date with industry standards.

In today’s digital world, nearly 50% of organizations have automated their software release to production. It is not surprising given that 80% of organizations prioritize their CX and cannot afford a longer wait time to add new features to their applications.  A reliable high-frequency deployment can be implemented by automating the testing and delivery process. This will reduce the total deployment time drastically. 

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Over 62% of enterprises use CI/CD (continuous integration/continuous delivery) pipelines to automate their software delivery process.  Yet once the organization establishes its main pipelines to orchestrate software testing and promotion, these are often left unreviewed.  As a result, the software developed through the CI/CD toolchains evolve frequently.  While the software release processes remain stagnant. 

The importance of an optimal QA DevOps strategy

DevOps has many benefits in reducing cost, facilitating scalability, and improving productivity. However, one of its most critical goals is to make continuous code deliveries faster and more testable. This is achieved by improving the deployment frequency with judicious automation both in terms of delivery and testing. 

Most successful companies deploy their software multiple times a day. Netflix leverages automation and open source to help its engineers deploy code thousands of times daily. Within a year of its migration to AWS, Amazon engineers’ deployed code every 11.7 seconds with robust testing automation and deployment suite.  

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A stringent automated testing suite is essential to ensure system stability and flawless delivery. It helps ensure that nothing is broken every time a new deployment is made. 

The incident of Knight Capital underlines this importance. For years, Knight relied on an internal application named SMARS to manage their buy orders in the stock market. This app had many outdated sections in its codebase that were not removed. While integrating a new code, Knight overlooked a bug that inadvertently called one of these obsolete features. This resulted in the company making buy orders worth billions in minutes. It ended up paying a $460M fine and going bankrupt overnight.

A good QA protects against the failed changes and ensures that it does not trickle down and affects the other components.  Implementing test automation in CI/CD will ensure that every new feature undergoes unit, integration, and functional tests. With this, we can have a highly reliable continuous integration process with greater deployment frequency, security, reliability, and ease. 

An optimal QA strategy to streamline the DevOps cycle would include a well-thought-out and judiciously implemented automation for QA and delivery. This would help in ensuring a shorter CI/CD cycle. It would also offer application stability and recover from any test failure without creating outages. Smaller deployment packages will ensure easier testing and faster deployment. 

5 QA testing strategies to accelerate CI/CD cycle

Most good DevOps implementations include strong interactions between developers and rigorous, in-built testing that comprehensively covers every level of the testing pyramid. This includes robust unit tests and contracts for API and functional end-to-end tests. 

Here are 5 best QA testing strategies you should consider to improve the quality of your software release cycles:

Validate API performance with API testing

APIs are one of the most critical components of a software application. It holds together the different systems involved in the application. The different entities that rely on the API, ranging from users, mobile devices, IoT devices, and applications, are also constantly expanding. Hence it is crucial to test and ensure its performance. 

Many popular tools such as Soap UI and Swagger can easily be plugged into any CI/CD pipeline. These tools help execute API tests directly from your pipeline. This will help you build and automate your test suites to run in parallel and reduce the test execution time.

Ensure flawless user experience with Automated GUI testing

Just like an API, the functionality and stability of GUIs are critical for a successful application rollout.  GUI issues after production rollout can be disastrous users wouldn’t be able to access the app or parts of its functionality.  Such issues would be challenging to troubleshoot as they might reside in individual browsers or environments. 

A robust and automated GUI test suite covering all supported browsers and mobile platforms can shorten testing cycles and ensure a consistent user experience. Automated GUI testing tools can simulate user behavior on the application and compare the expected results to the actual results. GUI testing tools like Appium and Selenium help testers simulate the user journey.  These testing tools can be integrated with any CI/CD pipeline. 

Incorporating these tools in your automated release cycle can validate GUI functions across various browsers and platforms.

Handle unscheduled outages with Non-functional testing

You may often encounter unexpected outages or failures once an application is in production. These may include environmental triggers like a data center network interruption or unusual traffic spikes. These are often outlying situations that may lead to a crisis, provided your application cannot handle it with grace. Here lies the importance of automated non-functional testing

Nonfunctional testing incorporates an application’s behavior under external or often uncontrollable factors, such as stress, load, volume, or unexpected environmental events. It is a broad category with several tools that can be incorporated into the CI/CD cycle. Integrating automated non-functional testing gates within your pipeline is advisable before the application gets released to production.

Improve application security with App Sec testing

Many enterprises don’t address security until later in the application release cycle. The introduction of DevSecOps has increased focus on including security checkpoints throughout the application release lifecycle. The earlier a security vulnerability is identified, the cheaper it is to resolve. Today, different automated security scanning tools are available depending on the assets tested.

The more comprehensive your approach to security scanning, your organization’s overall security posture will be better. Introducing checkpoints early is often a great way to impact the quality of the released software. 

Secure end-to-end functionality with Regression testing 

Changes to one component may sometimes have downstream effects across the complete system functionality. Since software involves many interconnected parts today, it’s essential to establish a solid regression testing strategy.

Regression testing should verify that the existing business functionality performs as expected even when changes are made to the system. Without this, bugs and vulnerabilities may appear in the system components. These problems become harder to identify and diagnose once the application is released. Teams doing troubleshooting may not know where to begin, especially if the release did not modify the failing component.

Accelerate your application rollout with Trigent’s QA services

HP LaserJet Firmware division improved its software delivery process and reduced its overall development cost by 40%. They achieved this by implementing a delivery process that focussed on test automation and continuous integration. 

Around 88% of organizations that participated in research conducted on CI/CD claim they lack the technical skill and knowledge to adopt testing and deployment automation. The right QA partner can help you devise a robust test automation strategy to reduce deployment time and cost. 

New-age applications are complex. While the DevOps CI/CD cycle may quicken its rollout, it may fail if not bolstered by a robust QA strategy. QA is integral to the DevOps process; without it, continuous development and delivery are inconceivable. 

Does your QA meet all your application needs? Need help? Let’s talk

Author

  • Rajesh Asher works as the Senior Director of Business Development at Trigent. An experienced Sales Leader with a demonstrated history of successful client and team management, he has over 25+ years of experience in dealing with Application Development and Quality Engineering services.