TestOps – Assuring application quality at scale

The importance of TestOps

Continuous development, integration, testing, and deployment have become the norm for modern application development cycles. With the increased adoption of DevOps principles to accelerate release velocity, testing has shifted left to be embedded in the earlier stages of the development process itself. In addition, microservices-led application architecture has led to the adoption of shift right testing and testing individual services, and releases in the later stages of development, adding further complexity to the way quality is assured.

These challenges underline the need for automated testing. An increasing number of releases on one hand and an equally reducing release cycle times on the other have led to a strong need to exponentially increase the number of automated tests developed sprint after sprint. Although automation test suites reduce testing times, scaling these suites for large application development cycles mandates a different approach.

TestOps for effective DevOps – QA integration

In its most simplistic definition, TestOps brings together development, operations, and QA teams and drives them to collaborate effectively to achieve true CI/CD discipline. Leveraging four core principles across planning, control, management, and insights helps achieve test automation at scale.

  • Planning helps the team prioritize key elements of the release and analyze risks affecting QA like goals, code complexity, test coverage, and automatability. It’s an ongoing collaborative process that embeds rapid iteration for incorporating faster feedback cycles into each release.
  • Control refers to the ability to perform continuous monitoring and adjust the flow of various processes. While a smaller team might work well with the right documentation, larger teams mandate the need for established processes. Control essentially gives test ownership to the larger product team itself regardless of what aspect of testing is being looked at like functional, regression, performance, or unit testing.
  • Management outlines the division of activities among team members, establishes conventions and communication guidelines, and organizes test cases into actionable modules within test suites. This is essential in complex application development frameworks involving hundreds of developers, where continuous communication becomes a challenge.
  • Insight is a crucial element that analyses data from testing and uses it to bring about changes that enhance application quality and team effectiveness. Of late, AI/ML technologies have found their way into this phase of TestOps for better QA insights and predictions.

What differentiates TestOps

Unlike existing common notions, TestOps is not merely an integration of testing and operations. The DevOps framework already incorporates testing and collaboration right from the early stages of the development cycle. However, services-based application architecture introduces a wide range of interception points that mandate testing. These, combined with a series of newer test techniques like API testing, visual testing, and load and performance testing, slow down release cycles considerably. TestOps complements DevOps to plan, manage and automate testing across the entire spectrum, right from functional and non-functional testing to security and CI/CD pipelines. TestOps brings the ability to continuously test multiple levels with multiple automation toolsets and manage effectively to address scale.

TestOps effectively integrates software testing skillset and DevOps capability along with an ability to create an automation framework with test analytics and advanced reporting. By managing test-related DevOps initiatives, it can effectively curate the test pipeline, own it, manage effectively to incorporate business changes, and adapt faster. Having visibility across the pipeline through automated reporting capabilities also brings the ability to detect failing tests faster, driving faster business responses.

By sharply focusing on test pipelines, TestOps enables automatic and timely balancing of test loads across multiple environments, thereby driving value creation irrespective of an increase in test demand. Leveraging actionable insights on test coverage, release readiness, and real-time analysis, TestOps ups the QA game through root cause analysis of application failure points, obviating any need to crunch tons of log files for relevant failure information.

Ensure quality at scale with TestOps

Many organizations fail to consistently ensure quality across their application releases in today’s digital-first application development mode. The major reason behind this is their inability to keep up with test coverage of frequent application releases. Smaller teams ensure complete test coverage by building appropriate automation stacks and effectively collaborating with development and operations teams. For larger teams, this means laying down automation processes, frameworks, and toolsets to manage and run test pipelines with in-depth visibility into test operations. For assuring quality at scale, TestOps is mandatory. 

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5 Must-Haves for QA to Fit Perfectly into DevOps

DevOps is the ideal practice for software development businesses that want to code, build, test, and release software continuously. It’s popular because it stimulates cross-skilling and self-improvement by creating a fast-paced, results-oriented, collaborative workplace. QA in DevOps fosters agility, resulting in speedier operational support and fixes that meet stakeholder expectations. Most significantly, it ensures the timely delivery of high-quality software.

Quality Assurance and Testing (QAT) is a critical component of a successful DevOps strategy. QAT is a vital enabler that connects development and operations in a collaborative thread to assure the delivery of high-quality software and applications.

DevOps QA Testing – Integrating QA in DevOps

Five essentials play a crucial role in achieving flawless sync and seamlessly integrating QA into the DevOps process.

1. Concentrate on the Tenets of Testing

Testing is at the heart of QA; hence the greatest and most experienced testers with hands-on expertise must be on board. Some points to consider: the team must maintain a strong focus on risk, include critical testing thinking into the functional and non-functional parts of the application, and not lose sight of the agile testing quadrant’s needs. Working closely with the user community, pay particular attention to end-user experience tests.

2. Have relevant technical skills and a working knowledge of tools and frameworks

While studying and experimenting with the application is required, a thorough understanding of the unique development environment is also required. This guarantees that testers contribute value to the design stage talks and advise the development team on possibilities and restrictions. They must also be familiar with the operating environment and, most significantly, the application’s performance in the actual world.

The team’s skill set should also include a strong understanding of automation and the technologies required, as this adds rigor to the DevOps process and is necessary to keep it going. The QA team’s knowledge must be focused on tools, frameworks, and technologies. What should their automation strategy be? Do they advocate or utilize licensed or open-source software?

Are the tools for development, testing, deployment, and monitoring identified for the various software development life cycle stages? To avoid delays and derailing the process at any stage of development, it is critical to have comprehensive clarity on the use of tools. Teams with the competence should be able to experiment with technologies like artificial intelligence or machine learning to give the process a boost.

3. Agile Testing Methodologies

DevOps is synchronized agility that incorporates development, quality assurance, and operations. It’s a refined version of the agile testing technique. Agile/DevOps techniques now dominate software development and testing. Can the QA team ensure that in an Agile/DevOps environment, the proper coverage, aligned to the relevant risks, enhances velocity? Is the individual or group familiar with working in a fast-paced environment? Do they have the mechanisms to ensure continuous integration, development, testing, and deployment in cross-functional, distributed teams?

4. Industry experience that is relevant

Relevant industry knowledge ensures that the testers are aware of user experiences and their potential influence on business and can predict potential bottlenecks. Industry expertise improves efficiency and helps testers select testing that has the most impact on the company.

5. The Role of Culture

In DevOps, the QA team’s culture is a crucial factor. The DevOps methodology necessitates that QA team members be alert, quick to adapt, ethical, and work well with the development and operations teams. They serve as a link between the development and operations teams, and they are responsible for maintaining balance and ensuring that the process runs smoothly.

In a DevOps process, synchronizing the three pillars (development, quality assurance, and operations) is crucial for software products to fulfill expectations and deliver commercial value. The QA team serves as a link in this process, ensuring that software products transfer seamlessly from development to deployment. What factors do you believe QA can improve to integrate more quickly and influence the DevOps process?

(Originally published in Stickyminds)

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