When speaking DevOps and talking about software quality, one throws around terms like test automation, orchestration etc very casually. This can be confusing at times and many practitioners often ask if there is a difference between “test automation” and “test automation orchestration”.
Indeed there is a difference. The nuance of these two concepts can enable QA teams and managers to be on the same page when they automate their tests and orchestrate the pipeline.
Test orchestration helps dev teams utilize the testing process as a whole while reducing human errors from the scenario. How does it work?
Test Orchestration defined
Test orchestration is a set of automated tasks scheduled in a certain order and executed one after the other.
On the other hand, test automation is a precise task/tasks that is automated using tools and test scripts. That is; opening a database, clicking on a record, validating values in the fields etc.
Automation is all about individual activities or task whereas orchestration is more about optimizing the entire process by scheduling a series of automated tasks in a predefined sequence.
In other words, automation is all about individual tasks while orchestration is more interested in optimizing the process as a whole by scheduling a series of automated tasks in a specific order. Test automation orchestration is an efficiency tool.
A computer program is made of hundreds, sometimes thousands of processes. What orchestration does is that it takes these individual tasks and streamlines them to achieve the most optimum testing process.
Therefore, test orchestration can be an integration of manual and automation testing. It often uses ‘task building blocks’ to gain efficiency.
One can say that orchestration offers a broader approach to software testing. Where test automation deals with a single task, orchestration takes it a notch higher. It looks at the full testing cycle and tries to find areas of efficiency and optimization.
Test Orchestration and Test Automation: Where the twain meet
We all know that there is more to optimization of test cycles than simply automation and the use of automated testing tools. Automation is technical, it doesn’t require additional considerations of the big picture or how a particular decision impacts the whole process.
However, when it comes to orchestration, you have many factors to consider. The word orchestrate comes from ‘orchestra’ – a musical symphony or ensemble that combines various instruments, led by a conductor.
The term signifies that there is greater thought and direction, a unified output of a series of events and tasks where both collaboration and precision play a role.
As you can see, test orchestration is much like your orchestra. It is meant to optimize and streamline the process to produce harmony. There are many different ifs and buts, causes and effects. Automation is one of the key methods or tools that accomplish the resultant symphony or music. Ultimately, the aim is higher efficiency and optimum results.
Benefits of test automation orchestration
Test automation orchestration has many benefits. For instance, orchestration removes the need for manual interventions completely. That is, you no longer need to worry about human errors impacting your quality.
With the right tools in place, test orchestration helps generate detailed reports for every automated task. This allows QAs, programmers, project leaders and team members to get visibility and updated information about the current state of an app. Information such as which tests are successful, which failed, what are the critical issues, etc.
Since automated tasks produce a lot of data, you can also leverage this to generate reports, charts, graphs and bring more transparency about key quality metrics like test coverage, traceability, reusability and advanced analysis.
With the help of data visualization, you can identify critical defect areas very quickly. You can also judge if the software quality of your app is regressing.
How Test Orchestration fits into the CI/CD pipeline
In the DevOps and Continuous Development context, test automation orchestration is very useful. It enables teams to test an application repeatedly through the development cycle to find and fix errors as soon as the defects arise.
A well-defined and implemented test automation orchestration plan helps you test the application from start to finish, as many times as required. Many teams have the practice of testing overnight so they have fresh test results to work on, when the resume work in the morning. Many others choose end of sprint or other pre-defined milestones to test.
Since automation has the benefit of repeatability and reliability, there is no room for errors or lack of resources. This means, you can detect issues early and fix them swiftly before they can impact users.
Test Orchestration and Continuous Testing as a dual force help testers and quality managers to release confidently on time and achieve their DevOps mandate.
Test automation orchestration: Where the future of QA lies
Ultimately, the aim of test orchestration is to maximize efficiency and optimize the entire test management process. By adopting test automation orchestration and creating a smart and complete test strategy an organization speeds up the entire development process resulting in shorter release cycles and better quality releases.