What is CI/CD/CT: Continuous Testing In DevOps


DevOps owes its popularity within the developer community and enterprises to many reasons. One of the most prominent ones is the improvement in development velocity it helps bring. Essentially, it helps build software much faster than before and doesn't require any compromise on quality. It is one of the main aims of the DevOps philosophy and the motivation behind its workflow design.

One of the main parts of the DevOps workflow that helps achieve a better development velocity is the CI/CD component. In a previous Wave Report, Forrester asserted that cloud-native CI tools help speed up the development while also reducing delays and their costs. With such a powerful approach in its toolset, DevOps ends up delivering value to enterprises in multiple ways. The CI/CD approach has even had an offshoot in the QA direction, under the name of 'continuous testing.'

This article will take you through 'continuous testing' and how DevOps practitioners bring it to life. It will also see how it is different from existing methods and what its implementation requires. 

How The Philosophy Behind CI/CD Gave Us Continuous Testing

CI/CD allows DevOps practitioners to automate the essential stages within their workflow, including building, testing, and finally deploying the application. It’s an approach aimed to further the main motive of DevOps and contribute to bringing together the development and operations departments. It does this by establishing combined practices that help developers continuously integrate their new code, instantaneously test for quality assurance, and seamlessly deploy.

Continuous testing implementation is similar to CI/CD. It aims to make feedback on software quality available throughout the development cycle to better inform the process. Additionally, it also aims to drive down the testing costs, which are traditionally high. Enterprises don't have to wait for the deployment to start factoring in the quality feedback and improve accordingly. With CT, they can now do it through techniques that test each build.

CT requires an elaborate setup and a strategy that successfully handles extensive automated testing. Such testing won't only check every nook and corner of the build for bugs, but also provide feedback on aspects such as the UI. Practitioners will need to understand how to automate the tests and provide suitable testing environments to harness the complete testing efficiency that CT offers.

Why Continuous Testing Can Be Important For DevOps Workflow

The idea that DevOps doesn't have an existing QA or unit testing component as part of its workflow is far from reality. Instead, it is a heavily automated part that directly flows into the 'Ops' part afterward, where the application prepares for release. However, the continuous testing approach takes testing to a greater height. It introduces testing at almost every part of the workflow.

Having said that, continuous testing doesn't necessarily cram unneeded unit testing wherever possible. On the contrary, it enables practitioners to carry out tests wherever they need it. Even the deployment process has automated tests integrated into it so that the software product can undergo practical test environments. The feedback received will help significantly with product innovation and accurate delivery prediction.

By adopting continuous testing and smartly implementing it, enterprises get one step closer to developing, releasing, operating, and improving a product continuously. Now, customers and their need for high-quality software with dependable functionalities and regular updates can be better satisfied. After all, enterprises will get feedback and incorporate it at all crucial junctures during the DevOps cycle. Such a strategy guarantees a better quality product.    

Comparing Continuous Testing Against Simple Automated Testing

As crucial testing is to the DevOps workflow and its promise for a high-quality product, practitioners often consider it a speed bump. Especially since DevOps has become more common, many notice that traditional testing models just don't fit well with the DevOps workflow dynamics. Additionally, testing is a costly endeavor, and the strategy you choose needs to provide enterprises with a solid ROI. 

A better testing strategy would mean an edge in terms of software quality and significant savings simultaneously. Testing teams working under traditional approaches have noticed difficulty working with regression testing with each new build. The quest for a better testing strategy also comes from the observation that technology is advancing rapidly, and software has become more complex. 

With developers building modern software on cutting technologies like hybrid cloud, designing and executing tests the traditional way is hardly the way. Simultaneously, you can't automate all tests as it is an infeasible and costly methodology. Instead, practitioners should take the continuous testing approach and create the right kinds of tests. Boosts in productivity and software quality while testing costs in control shall immediately follow.

What Does Truly Dynamic Continuous Testing Require

When talking about continuous testing, much of its strategies may seem simply like a heavily automated set of tests. However, the difference between continuous and automated is essential to establish if you want to understand continuous testing. It is a business-driven quality assurance strategy where the failure of tests is apparent, and so is the plan of action afterward. Simply put, continuous testing handles testing, failures, and feedback much more dynamically.

So how can you bring continuous testing to life in a truly dynamic way? Here are some of the tools and approaches you'll need: 

Firm Grasp Of Requirements

For a dynamic continuous testing approach to bear fruit, you will need to watch the requirements closely. Ideally, tests should directly focus on determining business requirements, and you need to see which requirements are a higher priority for testing and which work as expected. You could implement a data analytics dashboard to help monitor the efficacy of tests and help optimize the importance of tasks.

The Right Kind Of Test Data

The importance of relevant and high-quality test data to a successfully dynamic implementation of continuous testing can hardly be overstated. The data should be gathered from a production environment and kept as close to a realistic scenario as possible. It would help if you also focused on effective test management and ensured the quality of your test data to test errors and exceptions.

Dynamic Test Environments

A crucial requirement for dynamic continuous testing capabilities is automating the creation and management of test environments. Creating one requires multiple moving parts like automated deployment, test data management, and service virtualization. However, if you could automate the process effectively, you would save significantly on essential resources like time, effort, false errors, and any manual processes.

Ensuring Test Efficiency With Service Virtualization

Your testing efficiency can improve manifolds if you bring in service virtualization in the dynamic continuous testing implementation strategy. Virtualization helps test in environments you may not have for live testing and quality assurance. Additionally, developers don't have to worry about back-end infrastructure or dependencies. Risky tests become easy to implement, and testing can frequently run on every build.

Continuously Tested And Polished Products With DevContentOps

With the inclusion of continuous testing, your DevOps can result in better software quality and much better development velocity. Strategies like DevContentOps can also incorporate tools for continuous testing and make your content creation and management experience much better. You can utilize the feedback you receive to deliver and implement a much better content strategy.

Topics: DevOps