Digital transformation brought about by quality software applications and robust hardware platforms helps to create a competitive advantage for enterprises across verticals and geographies. Now it is no longer about choosing between speed or quality of software but to incorporate both when delivering to customers. With Agile and DevOps being embraced by enterprises to stay up to speed on the competitive curve, continuous integration (CI), continuous delivery (CD) and continuous testing (CT) have become the catalysts driving quality digital transformation.
It goes without saying that continuous testing has become critical and is challenging. CI and CD are primarily tools and team-driven activities, while CT is comprehensive in its scope, including teams, tools, testers and services. The importance of driving and integrating code changes cannot be ignored in the software delivery life cycle. At the same time, unless the automated delivery system can figure out the impact of such code changes on customer experience, CI and CD could become meaningless.
Rising competition and changing market dynamics have put pressure on enterprises to innovate and change. Agile and DevOps in consonance with continuous testing offer the framework to address the requirement. At the heart of digital transformation lies the need to deliver software quickly, safely and reliably, which can be achieved through continuous testing in DevOps.
Why Continuous Testing?
Customers today use software applications across a plethora of devices, operating platforms, browsers and networks. They want the applications to be high-performing, navigable, scalable, secure, intuitive and fast-loading. These attributes can only be fostered if the software development process supports a robust QA mechanism in the Agile or DevOps mold. Unlike in the traditional or manual way of testing, where QA comes after development as a separate discipline, the Agile and DevOps models have QA as part of an integrated team with development.
In Agile testing, the software is tested for performance, security, usability, scalability and more throughout the various stages of development. Thus, glitches are identified and fixed early in the SDLC, leading to the delivery of quality software. A continuous testing strategy enables enterprises to put in place the processes, systems and automation to accelerate the time to market, install improved feedback loops and deliver desirable business outcomes including high-quality products and services, operational efficiency, responsiveness, competitive differentiation and enhanced customer experience.
Continuous testing services create a quick and risk-free feedback loop for the QA specialists in the Agile testing pipeline to understand (and act upon) the issues faced by the end customers. These services help to manage business risks borne out of the complexity and pace of application delivery.
Why Agile and DevOps?
To thrive in a competitive business environment, enterprises must address issues such as time constraints and resource mobilization to build-test-deliver applications that are higher quality, secure and stable. This engenders a renewed focus on continuous test automation and collaboration.
- The DevOps approach is ideal for enterprises that struggle to manage demand and implement rapid changes in the SDLC.
- DevOps allows enterprises to address their acceleration and integration needs by establishing a toolchain that cuts across the realms of development, QA, integration, management and delivery.
- The silo-driven development and operations teams should be integrated to drive better collaboration. Further, the pipeline should have a built-in mechanism to receive continuous feedback and to generate better quality features and functionalities.
DevOps: The Extension of Agile
In the Agile model of software development, developers create user stories comprising smaller chunks of the build to generate feedback loops and to align the product to the market need. It started with small teams comprising developers and QA testers working collaboratively and efficiently. Thereafter came the notion of scale, wherein the software code was developed in short iterations. However, down the pipeline, when it came to deployment and receiving feedback, the silo-driven processes stifled what was expected of Agile.
Consequently, the process was further refined by automating and streamlining the SDLC and incorporating continuous integration. In CI, code is tested repeatedly and integrated to create a stream of small but frequent releases. However, these challenged the Ops team, which found it difficult to keep pace with development. So, while Agile addressed the issues developers faced with glitches being passed on to the next phase, the DevOps approach turned out to be more effective, as it treated the entire SDLC as a monolith of collaborative processes that generate better outcomes.
Continuous Delivery and Testing
To support the strategic business needs, many enterprises have graduated from performing CI to implementing CD. In doing so, they have fine-tuned both processes and technical frameworks. From creating CI builds and executing testing to achieving deployment, the continuous delivery and continuous testing methodologies have covered all dimensions of the organization’s operations. These ensure the quick and frequent deployment of quality software applications to end users. The questions to be asked while implementing a continuous testing framework are:
- Is the software application deployable during its life cycle?
- Can the software application be deployed while the team is working on its new features?
- Can the process receive quick and automated feedback each time a change is implemented?
- Can a push-button deployment be performed for a software version in any environment?
How Agile, DevOps and Continuous Testing Benefit Enterprises
These interconnected methodologies help enterprises in several ways:
- Accelerated time to market.
- Better productivity and efficiency.
- Frequent releases of reliable and stable builds.
- Capability to build products aligned to the market.
- Better feedback mechanism.
- Superior customer experiences.
The need for enterprises to be the disrupter in the market by producing or delivering top-quality software products or services has put focus on methodologies such as Agile, DevOps and continuous testing. The complementary relationship among the three methodologies has led to the overhauling of processes and working culture in favor of a new paradigm in which quality deployment is a continuous process.