I always come across a standard question from testers in any DevOps related presentation. “Will DevOps remove the need for Testers?” A simple answer is “No”. DevOps is not going to replace Testing as a discipline. Firms implementing DevOps have a vision for better product quality workable by brilliant Testing.
DevOps is an enabler for the following.
- Reduction in IT Budgets
- Efficient end-to-end delivery
- Lean delivery framework
- Working end-to-end automation framework
Successful businesses today are design thinking driven. Businesses have a strong sense of urgency, aided by innovative software engineering practices. Businesses today need to have a working continuous delivery practice in place. Continuous delivery also mandates better product quality and zero touch end-to-end delivery. Automaton is key to success across DevOps processes. Delivery by co-located, integrated teams using innovative tools prevents collaboration and communication issues.
Manual errors, Stove-piped communication issues get sorted with a good DevOps Governance model.
DevOps mandates “Fail Fast, Fail Often” driven by “Test First” concept. This means that testing is a continuous process and more extensive in nature. Testing allows for cohesiveness between various teams, automation of everything possible. Testing also allows for continuous improvement in test process delivered via iterations. Intelligent test automation, improved regression, continuous test augmentation are some benefits delivered by DevOps.
- Key benefit delivered byDevOps is the cost reduction in end-to-end delivery.Businesses achieve cost reduction by Automation, manual error reduction and reduction of duplicate effort.
- Continuous delivery enables streamlined governance and reduces time-to-market.
- With fail-first, fail-fast, fail-often philosophy, shift-left testing is a reality. With early defect identification, product quality increases. With increased automation, continuous testing is a feasibility.
- With co-location, productivity of DevOps teams (design, test, operations) improves.
Implementing DevOps could be tricky in organizations having monolithic systems and processes. Culture change is critical for successful initiation of DevOps and Continuous Delivery.
From a testing standpoint, DevOps addresses the following key testing challenges.
- Test Environment – Virtualization, Automated Deployment, Automated build and configuration management, data refresh and maintenance becomes simple
- Continuous Integration, Automation and Verification – Test First centric test driven development, behavior driven development concepts allow test processes to improve in a DevOps Model
As per a report published in 2002 by NIST – Cost of Poor Quality (in US) was $59.5 Billion per year. Cost of poor quality is higher in large organizations running legacy infrastructure. By some industry guesstimates average cost of a production bug is about $7000. Customer experience and agility for quick delivery takes a hit if the organizations aren’t quicker. DevOps becomes a positive catalyst here.
Some skeptics may say “DevOps looks easy on paper but difficult to put in place”. Any innovative change is difficult to implement at first. It takes discipline and drive to run the operations watertight to achieve the goals.
Some key factors to implement for Successful DevOps are
- Cohesive, One Team mentality between teams
- Implementation and Use of Tools that take away manual effort
- Continuous Delivery Phases
- Superior, Automated Configuration Management Approach
- Continuous Improvements across phases
- Continuous Automation
- Continuous Integration
- Continuous Testing
- Continuous Monitoring
Use of tools is key to success of a DevOps program. Plethora of tools are available to support automation. Tools are available for Environment Build, System Configuration, Application Build, Database Setup, Artifact/Document Generation, Testing, Requirement Management, Collaboration, Production Monitoring, and Reporting across DevOps activities.
Like Agile Delivery Programs DevOps needs a strong Team Cohesion to be successful. A DevOps team need to have a Product Life-cycle Management mindset as well. This also means that team needs to unlearn standard SDLC processes. This means, DevOps team should have a clear vision. Vision to Ideate, Implement, and improvise and retire the product. An integrated DevOps team with clear vision will make DevOps projects successful.
DevOps testing needs to address the need of Business and Technology needs. Automation plays a major role to achieve this aim. DevOps in principle has a goal for better product quality albeit the need for faster delivery. Terms such as “Shift-Left”, “Fail-First, Fail-Fast, Fail-Often” will be regular vocabulary in DevOps. DevOps Test team comprises of Cross Functional Specialists and Testing Purists. A Performing Testing Practice for DevOps will take some time. Testing as a practice has matured over the past two decades and is well equipped to support DevOps. Use of automation and productivity enhancement tools helps testing move faster.
Successful DevOps implementation in large firms with legacy processes and technology is a challenge. A big culture change is the only way to achieve success in such firms. It will be a hybrid DevOps Model as purist implementation will be a challenge.