How can DevOps transform the traditional software development lifecycle, and what is its role in integrating testing practices for faster delivery and better product quality?
The rapid pace of product development nowadays requires processes that allow teams to keep up with technological advances. Whether you’re part of a small startup or an established global company, you need a more collaborative, integrated approach to software development to help take your organization to the next level. The old way of separating development, testing and operations doesn’t cut it anymore if you want to stay competitive with your products.
That’s where DevOps steps into the picture. DevOps is a set of processes and tools to help integrate and automate the work for technology-based organizations and teams for optimizing the software development lifecycle. This methodology combines agility, efficiency and quality across multiple disciplines and domains to streamline workflows and foster better collaboration. By breaking down traditional silos, software development teams can quickly respond to breakthroughs in their industry, enhance product quality and accelerate delivery timelines.
The procedures behind DevOps reshape the traditional way of handling software development. In many organizations, different roles focus on their tasks without considering the other pieces of the puzzle. Developers throw their code over the proverbial wall when finished, where testers run their checks separately, each team going back and forth mainly through bug reports. When these teams finish their development and testing dance, it’s up to the ops teams to figure out how to deliver the product to the consumer—often with little to no information to help them.
This separation reduces collaboration and communication, slowing the entire team and risking poor quality. DevOps, on the other, provides a complete picture of the whole software development process that speeds up the process of building and shipping new products without sacrificing quality. Instead of having different teams work in isolation, DevOps’ seamless communication and shared responsibility allows teams to work together toward a better overall result.
Another essential component of DevOps is its philosophy of continuous improvement. It accomplishes this by adopting strategies like automating repetitive tasks, integrating testing processes into the development lifecycle, and keeping feedback loops tight for frequent and iterative improvements. For instance, DevOps can implement continuous integration and continuous deployment (CI/CD) pipelines that can facilitate the delivery of products and help the team spot areas to make the process better in the future. These practices will keep everything flowing smoothly with minimal disruption, with greater alignment between business needs, their teams and the end users.
However, DevOps isn’t only about tools and strategies. It’s also about ensuring that your team can deliver high-quality products in a repeatable and consistent manner. The collaborative nature of DevOps will keep developers, testers and system administrators in sync with each other instead of having separate silos that can impede progress in any project. Your organization will notice significant improvements in development and testing times and a decline in failure rates in new releases. This integration makes DevOps a vital factor in modern software development.
Testing is an integral part of the complete DevOps lifecycle, acting as the bridge between the development and release phases. This phase is vital for rapid and reliable deployments, enabling teams to catch bugs quickly and early. With a testing strategy in place, your organization will increase its effectiveness and efficiency in developing new software. It also helps to keep all teams focused on a single goal instead of keeping their attention too narrow on a single discipline or task.
More importantly, DevOps helps foster a culture of quality throughout the entire organization. When a team doesn’t have a well-placed testing strategy as part of their development process, quality is an afterthought left as a separate task on a checklist. This mindset often leads to slower development times and buggy products, with problems that compound over time as the issues become more challenging to address promptly. Also, the moment your schedule risks slippage, testing and quality are one of the first things to go out the window.
Testing’s role in DevOps encompasses various key strategies that integrate quality seamlessly into a team’s workflow. Here are a few practices employed by DevOps to help improve the software development lifecycle.
The term shift-left testing refers to the practice of testing as early as possible into the development process. As opposed to shift-right testing, which involves validating and observing an application in real-world production deployments, shift-left testing moves the focus of quality before and during building the product. By implementing testing processes and strategies from the start, teams can identify and fix issues long before they escalate into more extensive and expensive problems.
The move to shift-left testing means that the entire product team, from developers to testers to DevOps, is in a continuous feedback loop on the state of a project. It allows a proactive approach toward quality in the end product by allowing quick adjustments when it’s more manageable instead of noticing issues much further down the road when it becomes a challenge to fix. Shift-left testing also instills a collective quality mindset, smashing any silos and communication barriers that happen when development and testing are treated as separate entities.
One of the benefits of integrating software testing and DevOps in your organization is making development faster than ever. It sets up an environment that allows developers to confidently release new features to the world quickly and effortlessly while testers keep the quality bar high throughout the process. Instead of waiting for long QA cycles and tons of back-and-forth during the development process, everyone can do their work without the worries of bugs sneaking in due to the rapid pace expected of software teams nowadays.
Many teams shy away from automated testing when starting new projects because they believe it will slow them down. However, the opposite is often true. Test automation increases the speed of the typical development and testing process by eliminating repetitive manual testing work and frequently validating new and existing functionality in the codebase. Even at the early stages of any project, teams can benefit from the test automation tools that DevOps brings to the table.
A large part of the work that DevOps provides is eliminating obstacles that each team faces. Many organizations have to deal with automating their testing steps and build processes for their projects, making it as effortless and quick as possible to release new functionality. That’s where continuous integration and continuous deployment (CI/CD) come into the picture. Both of these practices combined will make consistent and frequent iterations of your products a reality.
Through continuous integration, any new code changes go through a repeatable set of automated steps, including testing and building the application to make it ready for distribution. This process can detect problems and alert the team so they can make corrections as quickly as possible. Continuous deployment takes it a step further by automating deployments once all your team’s required checks pass. This flow of automated testing, building and deploying ensures your product is always up to date and ready to go at any time, shortening the time to market and giving you an advantage over your competitors.
If you’ve worked as a tester for any amount of time, you’ve likely encountered a bug you can reproduce on your system but the developer can’t on theirs. The phrase “Works on my machine!” is a running joke within the software development community, but it’s a problem that hinders many teams. When you can’t reliably duplicate an issue, it can’t be fixed quickly, slipping into your production systems uncorrected, where your customers will likely run into the same problem. At the very least, it’s an annoyance, but it can also lead to lost customers and revenue at the worst.
To combat this problem, DevOps can establish a method of maintaining a consistent and reproducible process for setting up the environment for which your applications run. This process is achievable through Infrastructure as Code (IaC), which allows DevOps engineers to provision and manage the infrastructure that runs your products through code. The practice of documenting the different pieces of your system architecture and spinning them up with a single command ensures that the same environment can get replicated easily at any time, making the development and testing cycles dependable for everyone.
Integrating DevOps into testing starts with cultivating a collaborative environment across all teams and disciplines in the software development lifecycle. Establishing this cooperative mindset is essential so that any organizational changes stemming from these shifts in how you approach your products’ development, testing and delivery happen effortlessly. Once established, teams can begin adopting tools and techniques to assist them with testing processes that will help facilitate the work every step of the way.
Tools and techniques can guide your team in integrating testing in DevOps. Choosing the right tools alongside your strategy promotes a fast and effective pipeline that begins when your project is born all the way to when the work is completed and delivered to your customers. Here are some tools and techniques you can incorporate into your current processes to help boost your workflows.
Adopting test automation into the software development process will speed up your team’s output by eliminating the repetitive parts of their job and helping catch problems as soon as your codebase gets updated. Nowadays, there’s no excuse for developers and testers not to have automated test coverage, as most tech stacks will have built-in testing tools or libraries that can easily fit into their projects. These integrated tools can help teams keep a basic level of test coverage within their chosen programming languages and infrastructure, and DevOps can help fit these into the broader picture.
There are also plenty of excellent choices for other essential forms of testing beyond the typical unit or integration tests. Some tools run code quality and security checks for various programming languages and frameworks. Automated test suites like Progress Telerik Test Studio make automated end-to-end testing for web and desktop applications a breeze with powerful capabilities and UI for codeless and code-based tests. Performance testing tools let you load test your applications at any scale using the cloud. These kinds of tools will massively increase your product’s quality without sacrificing your team’s velocity.
The practices of continuous integration and continuous deployment (CI/CD) can automatically handle the process of testing, building, and deploying your projects without manual intervention. In today’s business landscape, releasing new applications and features early and often can set you apart from the competition. CI/CD systems will significantly speed up your organization’s time to market. To accomplish this, DevOps can use various tools that will take your team’s work from code into a usable product consistently and effortlessly.
The choice of which Infrastructure as Code tool your DevOps team adopts depends on your needs and how it integrates with your existing workflow. The major cloud service providers have systems for documenting and provisioning resources through code. If your organization uses a mix of cloud providers or a hybrid approach for its infrastructure, Progress Chef Infrastructure Management enables teams to automate all their configuration and system state in a single place. These tools can catch high-risk bugs before they reach your customers.
The servers and systems that power an application aren’t often considered when testing. However, the complexity of today’s applications requires juggling multiple systems, and ensuring that you’re testing against the same environment is a crucial step in setting a high bar for quality. Inconsistency between your development, testing, and production environments can lead to unexpected behavior that makes it impossible to debug and fix. DevOps can help with this problem by using Infrastructure as Code (IaC) tools that can automate setting up a consistent testing environment that reduces the chances of environment-specific issues.
The choice of which Infrastructure as Code tool your DevOps team adopts depends on your needs and how it integrates with your existing workflow. The major cloud service providers have systems for documenting and provisioning resources through code. If your organization uses a mix of cloud providers or a hybrid approach for its infrastructure, Chef Infrastructure Management enables teams to automate all their configuration and system state in a single place. These tools can catch high-risk bugs before they reach your customers.
This article dives into the transformative impact of DevOps on modern software development, allowing organizations to break free from silos and limited communication across teams. Adopting a DevOps mindset can speed up the delivery of your products, significantly improve their quality, and promote a tighter culture of collaboration between developers, testers and operations.
The role of testing within the DevOps lifecycle is a critical part of the formula. It begins with practices like shift-left testing, test automation and Infrastructure as Code to assist in cultivating a collective mindset of quality and continuous improvement. Following it up with tools and techniques like continuous integration and continuous deployment pipelines integrate everything together to make your organization more agile and resilient to change.
By including testing in every phase of a project’s development, you’re baking quality into the product in every aspect. This approach ensures that your team builds faster, runs into fewer problems and exceeds customer expectations. DevOps goes beyond tools—it’s a methodology that can completely change the way your organization works.
Dennis Martinez is a freelance automation tester and DevOps engineer living in Osaka, Japan. He has over 19 years of professional experience working at startups in New York City, San Francisco, and Tokyo. Dennis also maintains Dev Tester, writing about automated testing and test automation to help you become a better tester. You can also find him on LinkedIn and his website.
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