But the slightest code change can mean a fresh cycle that takes a couple of weeks leading to an overall delay in production. This is the biggest challenge that organizations face today. A largely application-driven world demands high quality digital experiences without compromising on the speed.
Since both speed and quality are equally vital in software development, you need paradigms like Continuous Delivery and Continuous Testing to deliver on this dual mandate.
“To successfully implement continuous delivery, you need to change the culture of how an entire organization views software development efforts.”Tommy Tynjä
What organizations need
Has your organization built a complete Continuous Delivery circle to realize the full potential and benefits of the CD process?
Continuous Integration is the first part of the CI methodologies that have been widely adopted industry wide. This involves integrating code into a shared repository and verifying every check-in. CI uses automated build to allow the detection and resolution of problems faster.
Similarly, the adoption of Continuous Deployment has followed suit. That is the deployment or release of code to production, as early as possible to make sure that releases go to market ASAP. This is the second most important piece of the CD puzzle.
Yet, there is one piece that is consistently missing from many organizations’ processes who have built CI and CD.
Continuous Testing: The Missing Piece
Businesses have been slow to implement shift-left and early testing as part of their agile development cycle.
This causes a fundamental problem in Continuous Delivery. If you run testing late in the SDLC, you discover problems much later. This has many consequences from mission-critical business risks, to a deadline nightmare, to inflated costs of development and delayed/dodgy releases.
Many organizations and developers have realized the flaw in this way of working. And they have started running their tests early, but with manual test executions.
This is not only time consuming but causes a new set of problems. You need to run tests after each phase of the cycle: after writing tests, after producing the code, and after refactoring it.
To make things worse, as the software ages, you need to test more frequently and more stringently to make sure of its quality. But many organizations work with limited time and resources to keep on executing these tests.
What do you do? Compromise or risk the quality of the application or delay its release? Neither option indicates the success of a Continuous Delivery process.
Continuous Testing means there is no need to compromise. Automate your testing and integrate into the build process as early as possible. The CT platform runs in the background and automates the execution of tests to provide instant feedback. This reduces your go-to-market times and closes the CD circle to make it happen.
Key Benefits of this approach:
Shifting Left: Finding bugs earlier in your development cycle. CT enables finding issues earlier because developers can QA their code.
Shorter release cycles and on time-delivery: By introducing test automation you can save a huge amount of time because QA is intrinsic to the build, not something to be pushed to a different QA environment or to be done later.
Healthier Code: One key benefit is improved code quality because you can test almost everything on each build.
Efficiency: You end up wasting less time otherwise spent in the back and forth, and you are more efficient and effective.
Mitigate business risks: Great code, on time and averting critical quality issues early.
However, implementing any change is easier said than done. What are some key hurdles that companies face when implementing Continuous Testing?
1. Dealing with different architectures of the Application suites The modern enterprise works with hundreds of applications. Some of these are age-old apps built over the years using Waterfall approach while some others are built using microservices. The variety of old and new applications have a fundamentally different architecture.
Localization of test environments is necessary to implement the Continuous Testing aspect of CI/CD pipeline during code commit.
2. Silo type culture and lack of collaboration One common roadblock that many teams face is the preparation of test data. It is even more difficult to keep development and testing activities in parallel. As IT operations are skeptical of new deployments owing to a fear of losing stability in production environment, Continuous Integration is required to break silos and involve all members of the team to get both quality and stability of the product.
3. Tool selection CI/CD implementation depends to a degree on the selection of the right tools. Whether it is source control management for code commit or showing relevant reports using the dashboard gadgets, many tools are available for various tasks. There is no one-size fits all approach here and organizations have to choose what tools fit their processes and culture.
Overcoming Continuous Testing Challenges
Use automated testing: Automation is a pre requisite for Continuous Testing. Learn about how best you can use test automation in a continuous test environment and focus on the less generic, user experience aspects.
The right toolset: By the right toolset we mean tools that enable seamless integration with IDE for defect tracking and sharing of ream-time metrics with your teams. Choose tools that provide end-to-end support for effective management.
Performance and Security: There is increased emphasis on performance and security testing along with functional tests to analyse the impact of defects and set the benchmarks for associated business risks.
TDD, BDD and Exploratory Testing: Where TDD helps in increasing productivity by narrowing your focus and incrementally building passing tests, provides tidier code and enables safer refactoring of code, BDD enhances collaboration and automation, speeding up development and helps in parametrization of scenarios to make them more reusable. Exploratory testing helps you think and test creatively and identifies complex defects, enabling experimentation.