Testing in DevOps: A Complete Guide
What is DevOps?
DevOps is a software development methodology that encourages collaboration and communication between teams. In the past, software development teams have been organized in such a way that Dev (developers) and Ops (operations) were two separate departments with two separate sets of responsibilities.
DevOps companies aims to break down this separation by merging Dev and Ops together into a single agile team that shares responsibility for building, testing, and releasing software frequently. This means developers can be brought in earlier when requirements are being discussed, which enables them to provide feedback on things like timelines, the technical feasibility of features, infrastructure needs for the product, etc.
It also means Ops can be brought in earlier as well so they can ensure any new product features align with their existing infrastructure needs.
Ultimately it leads to a more efficient working environment where everybody has visibility into what’s going on across the entire organization while still maintaining individual area expertise.
At its core DevOps is not a tool or technology; it’s an approach to software development that focuses on continuous integration and continuous deployment (CI/CD). It’s an umbrella term for a set of practices that enable an organization to deliver value to users faster by making sure everyone who works on the product has visibility into what’s going on across the entire organization while still maintaining individual area expertise.
What is DevOps Testing?
Since testing is usually done at the end of the development cycle to ensure that each project phase has been completed successfully, it can catch problems only after they have occurred. This can result in poor-quality products and delayed delivery time. Due to these factors, there's an increasing need for continuous testing, which allows testers and developers to identify issues early in the SDLC lifecycle.
DevOps is a software engineering culture that aims to improve collaboration between development and operations teams. It has a strong focus on automation (CI/CD (Continuous Integration / Continuous Delivery) pipelines), and emphasizes building, testing, and releasing software often — hence its emphasis on continuous testing. DevOps also encourages cross-functional teams with both developers and testers working together from the beginning of a product's life cycle.
Why testing in DevOps matters more than ever before
By now, you know the basics of DevOps and why it's an important aspect of software development. The principles of DevOps have proven advantageous for both developers and customers alike, with many organizations adopting DevOps practices in one form or another. However, as with any new way of doing things, there are bound to be challenges along the way — and testing is no exception.
DevOps has led to a massive shift in the process for developing and delivering software. Due to this shift, testers must adapt by changing their approach to testing and increasing the amount of automation they use in order to succeed.
It's important not to lose sight of what makes testing so essential:
- Without a high-quality product, no organization can hope to thrive amidst such intense competition.
In DevOps environments where speed is valued above all else (or at least highly prioritized), thorough testing often gets deprioritized or ignored altogether — often leading to negative outcomes such as bugs being shipped out with production code or security vulnerabilities being exploited by malicious actors.
Testing in DevOps process and workflow
Test automation and continuous integration.
In order for testing to be effective, it must be automated. Continuous testing relies heavily on test automation to be successful. In addition, continuous integration (CI) is a practice in which developers integrate their work with a shared repository frequently. This makes it easy to find and fix bugs quickly, as well as make new features available more often so that customers can use them sooner.
What is continuous testing and how does it work?
Continuous testing is the practice of having various types of tests run automatically as code changes are committed in order to accelerate the delivery process.
Continuous testing and continuous deployment/delivery.
One way continuous testing works is by enabling frequent releases through the use of continuous deployment or delivery (CD). CD means that software updates are deployed automatically after each code commit (if all tests pass), reducing cycle time and increasing release frequency for end users — but only when the appropriate level of quality assurance has been achieved via thorough test coverage, test data management, proper test environments, etc.
Best practices in DevOps testing
With the importance of testing in DevOps well established, it's time to talk about how to do it right. There are a number of best practices that you should keep in mind when it comes to DevOps testing:
- Test across the entire DevOps pipeline. As your delivery process goes from left to right (code -> build -> test -> release -> deploy), you and your team should be testing every step along the way. It's important to keep testing all phases of each cycle, especially as you continue working on and updating whatever features you're implementing.
- Consider test automation. Remember that one of the main goals is continuous feedback, and with software development operating on a constant cycle, that means your team will eventually be moving too quickly for manual tests to keep up with everything at once. Automating some or all of your tests can streamline things and ensure that no errors go unnoticed or unaddressed until they're able to cause serious problems down the line.
- Continuous testing is essential for quality assurance in DevOps teams. Because software development is often split between programmers and testers, there's unfortunately a tendency for these two groups to move out of sync with each other unless they take active steps toward collaboration and coordination throughout an entire project's lifecycle — from beginning requirements gathering through final deployment into production environments.
- To facilitate this communication, have everyone involved use the same language when talking about their work; otherwise, misunderstandings may develop due to different terminology being used by members from different parts of a particular project group (e.g., developers versus QA personnel). A comprehensive guide like this one provides valuable insight into what makes good practices so effective at improving developer-tester cooperation within organizations where both roles exist side by side — and thus ensuring higher levels of productivity overall across multiple teams within those organizations over time!
Best practices for CI/CD and testing
A successful DevOps culture requires an automated, continuous approach to testing. Testing practices in a DevOps culture must be focused on quality, efficiency, iteration and collaboration with all stakeholders involved in the software development lifecycle.
It is critical that quality is baked into every stage of the process. To ensure this happens consistently at all stages, you should test your software throughout the whole CI/CD pipeline. Testing early and often will ensure you eliminate bugs before they are introduced, saving both time and money. Below are some of the best practices for implementing testing in your DevOps environment:
- Continuous integration (CI) ensures that each check-in triggers builds so developers have constant feedback about their code changes across build servers and environments
- Continuous delivery (CD) means that all code changes are automatically pushed through to production as soon as they pass tests
- Continuous deployment (CD) builds on CD by releasing new versions of software into production automatically whether or not there is an immediate plan for deployment
- Continuous feedback (CF) means that parties outside development — such as business stakeholders — are included in feedback loops so they can continuously refine requirements according to user needs.
Questions to ask when choosing continuous integration tools
Continuous integration (CI) has a lot of different tools you can choose from. When evaluating your options to select the perfect one, it's wise to ask yourself some questions before diving into anything too deeply. The list below will help you determine what kind of CI tool is best for you. Some considerations are:
- Does the tool support the development environment?
- Does it support the continuous testing tools that your team wants to use?
- How much time and resources will be needed to implement this tool?
- Can it scale easily with your system architecture as your project grows?
The above points are just a few general queries that should be considered when selecting CI tools for a new project. Next, let's look at Testing automation in a DevOps environment.
Testing automation in a DevOps environment
A tool or tools. When you're looking for a testing automation solution to support your DevOps environment, here are the things to look for:
- Support across the DevOps lifecycle. From planning and development through release and delivery, as well as monitoring and maintenance, a tool should be able to provide test automation throughout the pipeline.
- Compatibility with continuous integration/continuous deployment tools. You need a tool that can integrate into your CI/CD process so you don't have to retool everything for each software release.
- Compatibility with your programming language. In order to fully automate your tests in line with your development process, it is important that the testing automation solution provides built-in support for the programming languages you use without relying on external plugins and add-ons.
- Integration into existing DevOps lifecycle and workflows. To ensure smooth collaboration between developers, testers, system administrators and other stakeholders in your DevOps environment, it is important that the system integrates seamlessly into all relevant processes and systems (issue tracking systems etc.)
Continuous testing vs continuous checking
Continuous testing is a relatively new practice in the software development community. It's often confused with continuous checking, a practice where developers check in code multiple times per day as opposed to once per day or less frequently.
The distinction between these two practices is an important one that can help you understand how effective your DevOps program is and how close you are to realizing its full benefits. Good continuous testing practices enable continuous integration and deployment because they enable each software change to be tested before it's integrated into the main branch of code. On the other hand, continuous checking doesn't demand anything of the software team except to make more frequent commits — which may or may not include automated tests.
How regression testing fits into the DevOps process
Regression testing plays an important role in the DevOps process. It ensures that any new features or changes do not break or interfere with existing features. To perform regression testing, you need to identify the bugs that could cause regression and write test cases for them. The most critical regression test cases are automated.
Then, if there is a change or code commit that affects the functionality of a feature, you can run the automated tests to ensure the change did not cause any regressions. To perform effective regression testing, you need to know when to start it, how much time and effort it requires, what tools help with it, and how to automate as many of your tests as possible. When done right, regression testing helps your team deliver better software faster by eliminating hidden defects that would slow down development and deployment cycles.
Creating a bridge between QA and developers with API testing in DevOps
APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) are the bit of code that allows a website to talk to another system. An example is Google's API, which allows developers to create applications by interacting with Google's services. The bits of code that make up an API can be called "APIMs" and they're often used on websites like Gmail and YouTube, where users need to authenticate themselves through APIs before starting a video chat or sending email.
APIMs can also be used by developers in DevOps. When developing any sort of software, you'd want to test your work on a production environment before releasing it into production (sometimes referred to as "test-on-production"). This way, you don't risk putting your system into production if it doesn't behave properly, and if there is any kind of bug in the software in its current state, you can find out about it ahead of time rather than after release.
API testing is commonly referred to as "integration testing" because it tests the integration between two systems — as well as one system with another (for example, when testing a web application for security vulnerabilities). It allows QA staff on both sides of the development process — software developers (who have created the API) and QA staff (who test applications against that API) — to help ensure that the system works correctly together.
Functional testing for a stronger CI/CD pipeline
Functional testing is a subset of black box testing where the test cases are designed to validate the correctness of an application's functionality. As the term implies, functional tests are written from a function-oriented perspective, and they examine how each function performs its designated task. A functional test can be either automated or manual and is typically executed against the production environment.
Automated security testing for a better ROI on development
Security testing is a critical part of DevOps. This type of software testing assures the security in your applications, identifies vulnerabilities, and helps you to find and fix bugs before they damage your reputation. It also improves your app's return on investment (ROI) and is an essential element for DevOps success.
Ultimately, the right tests are those that ensure software quality.
Ultimately, the right tests are those that ensure software quality. There is no such thing as too much testing. In fact, the more you test, the better your software will be. As you expand your DevOps program and start creating more software and updating it more frequently, testing will become even more important. The key to maintaining fast delivery and high quality is to automate as many tests as possible so they can run as part of a continuous integration process.
The amount of time needed for manual testers to execute all the tests manually may not make sense when an organization needs to release twenty times per day or even more often. In these cases, organizations must rely mostly on automated tests to ensure software quality while still being able to release on demand with minimal human intervention.
In DevOps, automation and testing are critical components to the smooth operations and continuous delivery of an application. In fact, testing can be a major bottleneck in the development and deployment processes. Fortunately, automation can help speed up the process. This is where a "testing in DevOps" strategy comes into play—and it all starts with monitoring your test environments, as well as knowing how to run various tests on your applications.