Why Test Automation is crucial for DevOps Success
By Sairam Gopalan, Competency Business Development Head – Testing Services
In today’s pace of development, DevOps is crucial to enable a unified culture in an organization where software development and IT operations come together to build, test and deploy applications in order to reduce the overall deployment time. But, as the DevOps movement gathered pace, some assume & conclude that it makes Software Quality Assurance need as obsolete.
Business needs demand more frequent releases and ensuring near Zero production defects on each new release - necessitates having a strong regression suite with maximum test automation coverage.
While the legacy waterfall development made it a natural need for QA, where does it fits into the new age DevOps and agile development model is not as clear as we would want. Most people assume it for needs like continuous development, continuous integration, and continuous delivery, but the crucial and the key element in this is continuous testing.
DevOps hence, can simply not succeed if it still requires many test cases to be run manually. DevOps & test automation, both have a different role to play in the software development cycle and must be hand-in-hand for successful application / product releases.
We all know that a dominant technology advancement and more so the digital transformation trends of today, shape and influence the role of software testing to an even larger extent. The competitive landscape & global audience for your applications & software products demands high-quality customer experience with reliable & mature releases.
As organizations scale up & embrace agile development models, the challenge for software quality teams have only grown more complex with releases that are almost daily. In a world of nightly or weekend regression runs, the volume of testing has increased substantially. And with this increased volume of testing comes the need for test automation. Continuous Development, Continuous Integration & Continuous Deployment can hence not happen in isolation without Continuous Testing.
Continuous testing is feasible only when a significant portion of test cases & scenarios are tested ahead in the development lifecycles with the right test automation approach or innovation to enable In-Sprint automation to keep up with this space. Also, in this pace of development, software testing must evolve to move away from mere testing to Quality Assurance Engineering by embracing Shift-Left Testing to achieve better customer experience
With DevOps, quality becomes everybody’s concern. Test automation is not something that can magically happen on its own. A lot of the hard work in test automation comes at the beginning, in building out the right test cases, the right set of test scenarios & the depth it needs to provide superior test coverage & code coverage. Involving business analysts, subject matter experts are key in achieving this. A test automation engineer needs to have a good understanding of not only application / software product functionality, but the underlying technical landscape, test automation tools / frameworks and how scripts can be created in parallel with development. They also need to know how scripts can be executed with the help of CI/CD tools and collaborate well with both the development and IT operations.
In a true DevOps journey, development and test automation engineers need to work together to help the automation tester to develop test scripts and maximize the test coverage. These scripts and code, supported by CI/CD tools, are used to generate builds automatically, deploy them and test them. Getting test automation right is one of the critical indicators that you are on a mature DevOps / Agile journey.
However, the test automation journey is not easy. Finding the right talent, involving the right stakeholders for improved test coverage, creation and maintenance of the right test automation framework and other test automation assets are tough and time consuming.
Hence, test automation requires a significant investment in teams’ skills, right tooling, and necessary infrastructure for comprehensive coverage in today’s complexities of multi-browsers, mobile device farms & so on. Moreover, there is a cost in velocity for the teams, it takes time to write those automated tests.
It is technically complex and the main pitfall for the majority of DevOps projects failure.
So, what is the option for enterprises & software product companies?
Next Article: “How to achieve In-Sprint Test Automation to support your DevOps journey?”