Organizations worldwide are adopting DevOps for faster software releases, improved customer satisfaction, and accelerated time to market. The New Market Research Report “DevOps Platform Market 2017 Global Analysis and Forecast to 2021” shows that the global DevOps platform market is expected to “grow at a CAGR of 19.42% during the period 2016-2020.” Though DevOps has been in existence for a large part of the last decade, it has come a long way from the time when it was considered “agile operations” or “agile system administration”. Today DevOps is emerging as a methodology that may be a generation ahead of agile.
An amalgamation of software development and operational processes for end to end SDLC management, DevOps helps organizations streamline their software development and delivery. It focuses on collaborative work management between people, processes, and technologies. Amazon, Facebook, and Netflix are examples of companies that have successfully implemented DevOps. DevOps focuses heavily on continuous testing and continuous integration and aims to provide shippable code post every integration. The speed and frequency of change that comes with development practices such as DevOps are incredibly hard to manage with manual testing. It is owing to this that DevOps demands extensive automation and that merits closer examination!
DevOps = continuous testing = test automation
Since continuous testing lies in the heart of DevOps, not automating the testing process can prove more taxing for the development teams and also create a lot of overheads. Test automation allows the development teams to reduce the time and effort taken to get accurate test results. Automation also helps in reducing false positives and minimizes the effort that goes into test maintenance.
With DevOps however, the testing tools in use should allow for easy integration with the continuous testing pipeline so that they can add value to the continuous testing process. At the same time, teams have to be cautious of the fact that continuous testing and test automation are not interchangeable terms. Teams leveraging DevOps thus have to isolate cases that lend themselves well to automation in the continuous testing framework.
Test automation = Increased Deployment frequency = DevOps Success
Since the main aim of DevOps is to increase the deployment frequency, it is imperative for the testing and QA process to be able to keep pace with the software delivery process. It is thus essential to ensure that the testing processes lend themselves to automation. This could either be through TDD or continuously running automated scripts for repeatable tests, such as unit tests, regression tests, functional tests etc.
DevOps also places increased importance on smoke tests or sanity checks before releasing into the production environment. This is done to ensure that the piece of software reacts as desired with the build and does not introduce any new issues. As these releases increase in frequency it also makes sense to leverage test automation to find issues with the build deployments. Automation can also help developers and testers find out if there are any issues with the environmental data without the need to invest in additional manual testing.
Test automation = Quality Assurance
It’s difficult to be absolutely certain about quality assurance when done manually especially when development is iterative and deployment is frequent. With test automation, DevOps teams can ensure that not only the piece of code they are deploying is bug-free, but also validate that the business need is working, as designed, across the application. Test automation also enables teams to start testing earlier in the development process. This helps ensure that quality code is being developed from the word ‘go’. It also allows teams to deploy new functionality into production regularly by reducing regression testing times to a few hours instead of days.
Test Automation = Reduced Costs
While many might contend that test automation requires significant investments, it’s worth considering that when you save time, you save money. Since changes to code can be almost immediately verified, this ensures that every piece of code works harmoniously with another and ensures that there are no glitches that need management during deployment. Manual testing of code can increase the time to market and thereby impact the overall ROI.
Access to performance data
Data never lies, test automation gives the development and testing teams access to performance data which helps them determine if the outcome is as desired or not. Performance data gives these teams emotionless insights into processes that are working efficiently, and those that are not. This is that single source of truth teams need to make tweaks or even wholesale changes.
Testing is the key differentiator
Testing maturity is one of the key determinants of DevOps infrastructure maturity. Testing architects and testing teams have to leverage their expertise for developing test cases, test design and test automation for DevOps depending on the development methodology in use (TDD, BDD, model-based testing etc.). They have to ensure that there are no issues with the subtleness of test orchestration and automation. Tests such as smoke tests, health checks, full regression tests etc. are run as a part of the build deployment process. If any of these fail, the deployment process comes to a halt and all invested stakeholders are notified immediately. This allows them to take corrective action faster and helps in reducing recovery times and therefore allows faster deployment.
While the focus of DevOps traditionally rests with Development and Operations, testing is that one component, the glue, which holds everything together. Since the focus of DevOps is on continuous delivery, continuous deployment and speed of deployment, test automation is that critical element to avoid QA backlogs and eventually enable rapid product development. Test Automation is that necessary and sufficient condition to really make DevOps work!