Organizations today ought to understand thoroughly that there is a critical difference in implementing an effective test automation strategy and a continuous testing strategy. Adopting Continuous Testing Methodology is certainly a better approach and has an edge over traditional software test automation. Although both the terms are used synonymously sometimes, there is a significant difference in the functions and meanings of each. Continuous testing goes beyond test automation.

Let’s understand various concepts that contribute to building an ideal Continuous Testing Methodology

Continuous Testing is no longer regarded as a new concept in the software world. It is something that has become an integral part of the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC). The continuous testing braces up the organizations to maintain the software quality at every stage of the product development. Testing early and testing frequently has contributed to improving the overall competitiveness of the software product. This has become possible with the help of strong continuous testing methodologies in alignment with the Mobile DevOps strategies.

Continuous Testing and DevOps

In DevOps, the word ‘Continuous’ means consistently developing, integrating, testing, deploying, delivering, and monitoring. The testers focus on mitigating business risks, identify bottlenecks and all other possible scenarios before creating test cases from the beginning of the SDLC. Test optimization is the building block of an effective automation strategy for continuous testing. It is all about creating fewer test cases and maximum test coverage and should start right before the automation for the entire continuous testing process. Optimizing should also include deprecating the tests that are unreliable and have served the purpose and adding the new enhanced tests.

Why Continuous Testing is Important in DevOps?

  • It supports the Continuous Delivery (CD) process
  • It makes sure there is no interruption in the SDLC
  • It allows maximum test coverage with the help of tools and additionally carries out UI, API, regression testing, etc
  • Maintaining quality checks at every step, early detection of defects to reduce their impact at later stages
  • Upgrades delivery pipeline by enabling quicker feedback on the code
  • Embeds smooth integration into the DevOps process ensuring faster product delivery to the end-user
  • Collectively, it boosts the morale of the team by encouraging them to learn from their mistakes

Continuous Testing, Continuous Integration, and DevOps

To remain relevant, enterprises can’t choose between either speed or quality of the product as it is only the end product they deliver that makes them competitive across all markets. Hence, both aspects are critical. That is why in this ‘agile world’ scenario, organizations are mostly focusing on DevOps initiatives concentrating more on Continuous Testing, Continuous Integration (CI), and Continuous Delivery (CD) to enable the quality at speed. The most challenging among these is continuous testing because it involves people, tools, processes, methodologies, and services whereas Continuous Integration is mostly tool-driven and Continuous Delivery involves tools and team-driven activities.

Now, Continuous Integration is an important part of the software development practice wherein the developer makes changes within the existing code as well as adds new code in the central repository on a daily basis. This triggers the automated build system to start working on the latest code from the shared archive for testing, validation and supply subsequent feedback. The purpose is to address the glitches quicker, improve quality and reduce the time it takes to release new software updates.

Why Continuous Integration is important in DevOps?

  • It addresses the bugs quicker by testing often at each step of development making it easier to discover errors early before they become a bigger problem at later stages
  • It Improves developer productivity by allowing them to focus on much bigger tasks rather than fixing bugs at the stages that could be automated.
  • With the help of Continuous Integration, the developers can push the latest updates much faster and frequently.
  • Team transparency and accountability increases
  • Enables better test reliability, fewer backlogs enhanced quality of the end product to the customers

Continuous Testing, Continuous Delivery, and DevOps

The role of Continuous Delivery starts where Continuous Integration ends. Continuous Delivery simply means continuously moving the code to production at any point in time which can only be achieved by continuous testing of the code. It involves delivering the build to production in small phases so that it can thoroughly be validated and tested before its final release at any time.

DevOps encourages coordination among the teams involved in the development and delivery of the product. Other than production, most of the teams also work in development and testing environments. Continuous delivery ensures that the codes are pushed to them automatically. It eliminates the boundaries of varied roles so all the teams can contribute across the value chain whenever needed. That being the case, together the different teams must adhere to the timelines and maintain the standard throughout the cycle. Integrating a fully automated continuous testing solution within the Software Development Cycle is the ultimate success contributor to the Continuous Delivery process.

Why Continuous Delivery is important in DevOps?

  • Requires fewer code changes, making the releases efficient and reusable
  • Ensures reliable and faster software delivery
  • Provides better customer satisfaction
  • Effective Continuous delivery process improves the development Return on investment
  • Reliable value chain performance

Continuous Testing, Continuous Deployment, and DevOps

Continuous Deployment is another strategy for software releases that development teams should follow to make the most of continuous testing. The code that the development team commits is passed through an automated testing phase where it’s released in an automatic production environment making changes that are visible to end-users. Instead of waiting for the DevOps to deploy the release and Quality Assurance team to test, the deployment process should be automated. If the test environment is standardized and thorough continuous testing is carried out, there will be no impact of any kind of changes in the environment.

Why Continuous Deployment is important in DevOps?

  • Continuous Deployment makes the release processes efficient
  • Code changes are automatically built, tested, and made production release ready
  • Overall productivity of the team is improved so that the focus can be made on most important tests
  • Enables smooth deployment without any security risks.

To achieve phenomenal results with the Continuous Testing process, here are some of the important aspects to be taken into account as the right approach to continuous testing.

Here is a webinar on how you can achieve successfully continuous testing with pCloudy

To perform successful continuous testing, we need to focus on the following key components:

  1. Embrace more Test Automation:

    Continuous testing is achievable even by manually testing the code at each stage to fetch quality results. Nevertheless, test automation can expedite the speed of error detection and everything else that is a part of the process. Faster tackle at each stage means faster software releases. Although the shift from manual to automation can’t be achieved overnight. However, once it is implemented, you would certainly reap great benefits in the long term and gain the trust of the end customer. Automating within the continuous testing framework would mean more than just implementing an optimized regression test suite. Starting with the unit tests to verify the code snippets and components tests for the features. This end-to-end automation closes the gap between the testers and DevOps team by maintaining continuity thus addressing the quicker delivery challenges.
  2. Integrating Continuous Testing Tools:

    Continuous testing is not just a game of automation, it certainly needs some stronger support in the form of tools to make the process easier, faster, and effective. Out of the myriad of tools available in the market. Using tools such QuerySurge, Jenkins, Selenium, Bamboo, Travis will definitely help benefit executing the CI/CD pipeline. Tools help to remove any undesired manual intervention and remove outdated operations allowing testers to focus on what is important i.e. testing. So, deciding the right tool is also one of the important aspects to consider while creating a successful Continuous Testing methodology.
  3. Tracking Metrics:

    It’s imperative to keep track of the failure and success during testing. Capturing the real data enables the QA team to analyze the lags and allows measuring the progress to take timely corrective actions. Analyzing the ratio of bugs detected to bugs corrected provides the real business value ROI. The main aspects of tracking the metrics should include tracking the total overall defects as well as how many test scripts have failed or passed in the testing process. This would allow the business to determine the increments or decrements in the defects over a period of time. If the defects increase, this certainly means that the development aspects need to be re-worked. Additionally, if the script failures are more, the testing strategy has to be re-analyzed for improvements.
  4. Leveraging Containerization:

    This is a process of packaging all the components of an application like configuration files, frameworks, and libraries together in its required environment. But why is containerization important to continuous testing? This is because it enables the tester to test a specific code rather than the complete application at a time. Additionally, test containers also help in keeping the environments streamlined with the latest code enhancements to be pushed to production.
  5. Communication Transparency:

    If there is a lack of transparency about the bottlenecks and abnormalities in the continuous testing pipeline, there will be a huge disconnect between the teams resulting in an unproductive lag. Hence, maintaining active balance within the team is imperative for a successful continuous testing process.

  6. Performing Multi-layer tests:

    All the layers within the SDLC should be thoroughly tested using a multi-layer testing approach to ensure complete test coverage. This means thorough automated testing should be carried out using Unit, API Integration, GUI system, and database testing methods. Considering the complexities of emerging software techniques especially in the case of microservices, having a multi-layer approach is certainly going to help ease the cumbersome test execution.
  7. Coalesce Performance testing into a delivery cycle:

    Performance testing is an analytical step to observe system performance and look for solutions to overcome any visible shortcomings. To check the overall performance and speed and stability of your applications, performance testing is of the utmost importance. Hence, to understand if the application is working to the best of its capacity, running optimally, or crashing due to heavy use, performance testing acts as a shield against all those challenges. No organization would produce a great return on investment if the application is not reliable. To achieve high performance, various tools that work well with the continuous testing strategy can also be used to maintain speed, manage low effort scripts, and creating parallel execution.

Conclusion

Continuous Testing is the biggest change that has impacted the overall transformation of the entire Testing machinery including DevOps teams, continuous testing methodologies, frameworks, and technologies to deliver impeccable results, rapidly. One of the recent reports states that out of 80 percent of agile organizations, only 30 percent adopt test automation. To realize the importance of continuous testing, it’s important to understand how it has benefitted organizations in accelerating the delivery to production, increasing testing speed, frequent product releases, reducing business costs by analyzing its impacts beforehand, and in checking if the quality standards are maintained throughout.

Software testing practices are ever-evolving and DevOps proves to be the game-changer when it comes to the implementation of Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery pipeline. DevOps is all about streamlining and automating the Software delivery cycle and evaluating the software quality at every step of continuous delivery. Among the tight deadlines and ever-changing needs of the customers, pCloudy is an early adopter of agile methodologies and DevOps that strives to help organizations in their automated testing needs and accomplishing delivery schedules.

continuous testing methodologies