What Is Continuous Testing In The DevOps Pipeline?

May 5, 2022 6:25:58 PM

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The software development and delivery pipeline of DevOps, also referred to as the CI/CD pipeline, ensures that market-ready software products are released for public use faster. Continuous Testing is a set of evaluation procedures in the DevOps pipeline meant to ensure the product's quality and to enhance the reliability of the outcome.

Organizations in the software development domain have to ensure that both quality and fast release time is achieved in the software development lifecycle. There should never be a trade-off, for instance, between getting a high-quality software product and getting it developed quickly. 

That is where continuous testing principles are implemented in a software development lifecycle or CI/CD pipeline to evaluate the product repetitively and at every possible stage. CI/CD is a collection of software development practices that allow DevOps teams to build code changes more frequently and accelerate time-to-market for software products.

In this article, we will explain everything you need to know about continuous testing and how it can be implemented effectively from development to deployment of software.


What Is Continuous Testing In DevOps?

Continuous testing is the process that consists of performing tests every time there is a code change in the DevOps pipeline. This also cuts down the time taken to deliver feedback to the developers so that the most recent changes in the code are pushed to the code repository.

The execution of the tests is often automated so that these tests occur at regular intervals without the need for repeated manual interference. At every individual level of the software development process or life cycle, tests have to be conducted frequently. Additionally, the entire codebase needs to be tested as a whole.

What Is Test Automation?

Testing each new change to the code base manually is a labor and resource-intensive task. Instead, DevOps teams prefer to opt for automation so that the developers have enough bandwidth to fix bugs during the testing phase. The first step in automation can be exploratory testing wherein creative ways to test code are discovered.

Once the potential test scenarios are found through exploratory testing, they can be automated to repeat on their own. Continuous testing is actually made possible through automated testing. Automated testing facilitates frequent and early feedback for the team which ultimately translates to a faster release of the software product.

Customer Success Story: Performance and scalability testing for an India based unicorn e-commerce portal

What Are Shift-Left And Shift-Right?

When it comes to software testing, Shift-Left and Shift-Right are umbrella terms for testing types based on when they occur in the DevOps pipeline. In the DevOps software development lifecycle or pipeline, the types of tests that occur closest to the start of the pipeline are known as Shift-Left.

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Shift-Left works on the principle that the later in the development life cycle the defect is found, the more expensive it will be to fix. So testing new requirements right as they arrive or testing new code comes under Shift-Left.

Shift-Right refers to the test phases that come later on in the DevOps pipeline. Testing in production is also a Shift-Right test approach. Staged rollouts, alerts, fallbacks, and monitoring are some stages where testing occurs in Shift-Right.

Continuous Testing requires a perfect balance of testing from Shift-Left to Shift-Right so that testing never actually halts throughout the software development lifecycle.

What Are The Benefits Of Continuous Testing?

Continuous Testing is a core necessity of a CI/CD pipeline that consists of developer teams producing highly reliable software products in fast release cycles. The following are benefits that continuous testing provides these teams:

  • Risk Reduction: While DevOps principles dictate faster time-to-market for software, ensuring that the outcome is risk-free is just as essential. There is always limitless scope for error every time there is a code change. Continuous testing ensures quick prompts following bug detection and reduces high expenditure that may arise towards the end of the development lifecycle.
  • Maximizing Test Coverage: Continuous testing involves tests that are automated and executed right from the beginning of the DevOps pipeline. So, in a way, there is a better probability of covering all possible failure routes caused by code changes.
  • Greater Visibility: The tools used for test automation such as Appium and Selenium allow for precise and detailed reporting through dashboards. The entire team experiences greater transparency as they are able to track every error, and successful test case executed.
  • No Code Review Downtime: As the testing and development teams work in close tandem during continuous testing, there is quick feedback. So there is no need to accommodate any downtime for facilitating a code review periodically in the development pipeline. A seamlessly functioning version control system allocates when and where to merge the code changes.
  • Increased Consistency: The testing procedure tests the code changes throughout the development life cycle which ensures that every piece of code goes through consistent phases of testing. Every system and subsystem of the software integration or build pipeline gets tested and so does the release pipeline. Comparative tests, wherever necessary, are done within the same configured environment to promote further consistency. 

How To Implement Continuous Testing?

For an efficient end-to-end implementation of continuous testing throughout the DevOps software development workflow, there are certain things to be tackled first. Certain dependencies such as test data, interfaces, environments, and so on have to be satisfied for the proper implementation of continuous testing in the following ways:

1)Environment Configuration

As continuous testing involves testing more frequently, it means the code is hitting different environments frequently. These CI/CD environments need to be available all the time for testing to occur. Virtualization of these environments is the best way to make this possible. 

2)Managing Test Data

There is often an overwhelming diversity in the test data for various test scenarios, be it positive or negative. Generating this data synthetically in a clean way is the best strategy to ensure that the best testing efforts are applied in the DevOps pipeline. It is important to bring this data from one environment to the next, whenever there is a need for this data for testing.

3)Pipeline Orchestration

CI/CD pipelines have to be integrated with a viable test automation suite to facilitate continuous testing. The automated workflow tools that are allocated for this purpose can be fully integrated with code deployment activities. In DevOps, you cannot fully implement continuous testing without the robust automation of the pipeline itself. The configuration and automation of every iteration of the CI/CD pipeline must be standardized.

4)Automated Test Generation

At the beginning of a DevOps workflow, the development team can automatically generate new acceptance-level tests for manual and automated testing. As this goes on, testers can then start developing automated tools that create test cases on their own. With time, the entire testing workflow gets automated right from the creation of new test cases, test suites, and execution of positive and negative test scenarios.

5)Feedback Loops

Continuous testing gives the developers the ability to get immediate feedback on the quality and effectiveness of the code changes implemented. This also helps team members in the test automation crew work with the same understanding right from the start of the DevOps pipeline. 

The entire team must have access to dashboards that present test feedback data in real-time. The quality of the feedback loop dictates the quality of the test methodologies, be it security, performance, load, and API testing.

ALSO READ: What is Continuous Deployment in DevOps? 

Continuous Testing Is Essential For The CI/CD Pipeline

Identifying the right test automation opportunities is a logical step in the process of mapping out the software development lifecycle. The next most important is incorporating the best-in-class test automation tools that work well with a variety of environments. Only the right technology partner can help implement effective test automation for developing robust software products with fast releases. To choose Daffodil for your software solution, you can book a consultation with us today.

ALSO READ: A CTO's Guide to DevOps and its Services


Topics: DevOps

Allen Victor

Written by Allen Victor

Writes content around viral technologies and strives to make them accessible for the layman. Follow his simplistic thought pieces that focus on software solutions for industry-specific pressure points.