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Test Orchestration and Its Need for Successful Automation

We all know, the biggest challenge for any organization is the changing needs of the customers and finding a way to address these quickly without any compromise on quality. Agile Software Development methodology followed by most organizations plays a crucial role in handling this competitive situation. The Agile approach demands integrating the product component, deploying the product in a pre-production environment, and test it quite frequently. A streamlined  test orchestration process would help accomplish this. Test automation orchestration helps developers enhance the testing processes by eliminating the probabilities of human errors in the process.


Test Orchestration defined

Let us get to the roots to understand the word orchestration. An orchestra is a collection of musical instruments playing in synchronization led by a conductor to create a harmonious melody. Here, we can relate orchestration as the set of tests working in sync to create a harmonized software testing. In simple terms, orchestration is all about automating many tasks together i.e., automating the entire IT-driven process altogether. Test Orchestration Framework is designed to create several automated tests scheduled to run one after the other. It is the most critical element of the automation testing strategy. With no doubt that test automation is the future of software testing, we understand that the testers might incur losses if they do not understand automation correctly and underuse it. So, it becomes impertinent to analyze the big picture i.e., making efficient the automation testing with the assistance of test orchestration. Thus, test orchestration becomes a powerful strategy for continuous, holistic test automation of software products.

Test Orchestration and its need in Automation


The meaning of the terms orchestration and automation often overlaps. Test orchestration is considered a set of automated tests scheduled to execute linearly. Test Automation refers to precise tasks automated with the help of testing tools and scripts. While automation deals with a single task, test Orchestration optimizes the entire workflow by automating the scheduled tests in a predefined order. A single set of tasks can cover aspects like launching a website to integrating an application, etc. Automated testing is performed at the script level and is within the scope of the development team. Testers and DevOps people create the tests and testing environment, and then various testing tools are used to automate and execute those tests. Orchestration is more of a developer’s thing and is considered a plan than a tool. So we can say that automation is more about executing the tests, whereas orchestration is more about a technique of execution of those tests. Therefore, orchestration is a much broader concept. It controls the type of tests to be executed, when they need to be executed, their sequence of execution, and if any human intervention is required

Below is the link to a Webinar that helps us get more in-depth knowledge about the role of Rapid Automation in Continuous Testing, which is another important aspect of test orchestration.

Automation was present even before DevOps became popular. Businesses have now transformed their DevOps, and with it, automation has become an inescapable part, critical to a successful deployment of software. Together, both aspects are considered a robust and effective combination generating optimum results. If Orchestration sounds more voguish than automation, it is because it’s more technically challenging. It demands higher aptitude to understand the steps involved. Also, require tracking of each step across a variety of environments and platforms.

Understanding the benefits of Test Orchestration


Test Orchestration can be hard in comparison to automation. It offers a whole new approach to testing and looks at the entire testing process broadly to streamline and optimize testing in the best way. Hence, test orchestration can be very beneficial. Firstly, it will entirely remove the need for human intervention within the testing process, eradicating any chance of human errors. With the help of the right tools like Selenium Orchestrator, one can generate detailed reports about every automated task. It allows Quality Analysts, project leaders, programmers, and other related teams to get an insight into the visibility, updated information, and current state of an application. Information like which tests failed or were successful is critical to the QA team to analyze the problematic areas.

Just automating alone makes an impression on the users that something has improved in terms of speed that might not be a highlight of the service, but once processes and workflows orchestrate, it brings a whole new range of benefits. It saves overall IT costs, increases productivity by shifting focus on subjects requiring in-depth human thought; it standardizes products and workflows making them reliable and consistent.

Test Automation generates a lot of data that explains the latest state of the application. It can be viewed in the form of charts, diagrams for the pursual of various stakeholders in the organization. It also allows quick visual identification of the issues and the regressive quality of the application. 

Why do we need a test orchestration strategy in automation? 


There is no getting around the fact that orchestration is a complex subject. All DevOps professionals are not well versed in the technicalities to perform test orchestration rightly. The team needs to be well-versed with the intricacies of this field. It becomes necessary to upgrade the relevant skill-set that sometimes the organization even sets up a whole new set of specialized and well-equipped professionals if needed. Defining who will perform which role in the orchestration and automation process can overcome many problems affecting the quality and timely delivery of service. You must be thinking that adding this to the system will disturb the team’s existing course of action, then why take this up? Well, it is because adding this to the mix has more ‘long-term’ benefits than challenges. With a sound strategy in place, the move from automated testing to orchestrate automated testing becomes effortless. Additionally, it becomes much easier to perform all of the above by adding well-supported orchestration tools to improvise the process. The following points must be noted while choosing the tools that fit. 

-Firstly, infrastructure or software development workflows would require different tools for their respective jobs. 

-Secondly, you’ll need to check if it is industry compliant? Whether it can handle the scale up or scale down in different variations of demand? Whether it supports data and analytics? Whether the task is simple/cumbersome?

-Thirdly, your organization and IT deployment size and operating system compatibility factors should be considered.

Some of the best automation/orchestration tools are:

Ansible: It supports Continuous delivery in applications. It is open-source and supports infrastructure orchestration tool, automates repetitive tasks of IT.

Control-M:  Its use mostly pertains to the work of business service thus it orchestrates their business applications and data sources. It generally focuses on the day to day activities of the business.

Jenkins:  It mainly focuses on software delivery technologies. In other words, it supports continuous delivery and integration. Built on Java Virtual Machine, it has 1500+ plugins to automate the software.

– Kubernetes: It orchestrates storage infrastructure workloads, computing, and networking. It is a container platform used to orchestrate apps that are built and shipped in containers.

Few other scheduling and orchestration tools that cannot be skipped are Nomad, Rancher, Marathon, Mesosphere, Selenium Orchestrator, etc.

Test Orchestration and CI/ CD Pipeline

Test orchestration is a valuable concept when it comes to Continuous Development and DevOps. It enables true continuous testing by allowing early-stage testing and error detection and resolving issues before it starts impacting the development cycle. A well planned automated test orchestration process would help the testers to test the application end-to-end and repeatedly. Since these two aspects of reliability and repeatability are the core benefits of automation, it signifies that the organizations can test and work on the errors quickly before any vulnerable situation sets in. As more and more processes are being orchestrated, engineers concentrate on developing other important tasks reaching a lot more of the assigned targets.

The ultimate goal of automated test orchestration is to overcome the challenges of the CI/CD pipeline. It would do it by maximizing efficiency, optimizing test management processes, and expediting the app deployments. A smart test automation orchestration strategy would equip the organization is speeding up the complete Software Development Life Cycle, results in reliable tests with no chance of human errors, shorter release cycles, and better quality software.

What can we learn from this?

By now, the goal of ‘orchestration’ seems quite clear that is to increase efficiency in the testing automation process. Its adoption will result in maintaining shorter release cycles and better software quality, In other words, strengthening the complete test automation strategy. Test Automation Orchestration is the real future of quality assurance.

As the organizations continue to grow, the need for adopting test orchestration becomes a priority. No matter how complex their software development life cycle and set of tools they use to manage infrastructure and deploy applications may be, orchestration is a one-stop solution to deal with every complexity. For better results, the early adoption of orchestration would ease planning and securing the future. It must be followed along with the time to achieve the automation milestone. For more information on test orchestration and a range of automation testing solutions, contact us.

Priyanka Charak

Tech Blogger - She writes about Technology, Mobile Application Development, Internet of Things, E-commerce, Computing and Design with the aim to coalesce new media and technology.

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