Tricentis this week announced an alliance with SAP under which a continuous testing platform that employs machine learning algorithms is being incorporated into the SAP Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) portfolio.
Jonathan Boswell, director of strategic content for SAP and packaged applications for Tricentis, said via this initiative SAP customers will be able to take advantage of a testing platform infused with machine learning algorithms to accelerate the rate at which they upgrade to the latest editions of SAP applications.
Many of SAP’s customers still run older versions of its software, much of which has been customized. Those customizations make it difficult to migrate to the latest version of SAP applications because in many cases SAP has extended the range of functions provided with SAP applications, thereby eliminating the need for those customizations.
The Tricentis tools enables IT teams to map existing custom functions to the standard capabilities that SAP provides now under a so-called Model Company initiative. Tricentis identifies the aspects of an upgrade that are likely to have the most risk to the business and surfaces issues involving integrations between SAP and third-party applications. Tricentis automates 90% of tests to help ensure the entire chain is tested, in addition to employing load testing to optimize SAP application user experience, added Boswell.
While many organizations employ SAP applications extensively, many of them are struggling with upgrades. In an ideal world, more organizations would take advantage of the latest packaged SAP application features to drive digital business transformation initiatives. Right now, however, it can take organizations months to perform an impact analysis on the SAP upgrade process, he said.
Tricentis shortens that time by employing machine learning algorithms to discover the difference between two application environments versus relying on legacy approaches based on testing scripts, said Boswell.
Ultimately, he noted, the goal is to enable more organizations to focus more on business processes rather than application quality assurance.
It’s not clear to what degree IT organizations will continue to customize SAP applications. SAP now provides a separate cloud platform that it encourages organizations to employ to build custom applications that extend SAP applications without ever having to touch SAP application code. Getting SAP customers to make that transition has become much more of a journey for many customers than SAP originally anticipated. However, as best DevOps practices continue to be adopted by SAP, the rate at which custom functions are built should accelerate. The challenge is creating and deploying those customizations in a way that doesn’t impede a SAP packaged application update cycle that happens every quarter.
Regardless of the path forward, machine learning algorithms and other forms of AI are positioned to play a major role in application testing. They may never replace the need for human testers, but the days when business users needed to be recruited to help test every low-level function in an application may finally be coming to a merciful end.