Last Updated Dec 13, 2021 —

What is continuous testing and how does it fit into your DevOps pipeline? 

Continuous Testing

Continuous testing is the process of incorporating automated feedback at different stages of the software development life cycle (SDLC) in support of better speed and efficiency when managing deployments. Once the code is written, a continuous integration approach merges the code into the main branch, rather than waiting for the developers to build and test it manually. 

This is a critical component behind the effectiveness of the CI/CD process as it saves a substantial amount of time in moving the code from the development environment to the test environment. The goal with continuous testing is to obtain immediate feedback on business risks associated with a software release candidate, testing at all stages in the SDLC to improve quality system-wide. 

Continuous testing accelerates SDLC timelines by improving code quality, avoiding expensive bottlenecks, and expediting DevOps processes. This differs greatly from the testing methods of the past by fundamentally transforming the testing process from being a linear event to embedding it as a core aspect of every activity in the SDLC. Companies are now adopting a “shift left” approach by testing earlier and continually throughout the delivery process using automated approaches. Shift left integrates testing into the DevOps pipeline, enabling faster feedback loops so developers and testers can fix defects when they are the easiest, fastest, and cheapest to fix.  

If an automated test fails, development teams are informed at the specific stage of development so that the necessary adjustments to the source code can be made before it affects the other teams at another stage in the SDLC. By testing often, teams can ensure better visibility and control over the current state of code. Testing earlier means testing faster and therefore finding defects sooner in the production cycle. As a result, the time between releases reduces significantly and the quality of the software improves. 

Delivering business value 

As organizations attempt to keep up with the industry and deliver innovative new products, DevOps practices have become an essential component of the software delivery lifecycle. In the ever-evolving work from home landscape businesses are trying to figure out how to manage their responsibilities as accurately as they did pre-COVID. Teams are being forced to balance these new demands to develop faster without sacrificing quality. 

“You can no longer go to someone physically to confirm if you have a testing window for a tight deadline release,” says Juan Lugo, Product Marketing Manager. “Organizations need to adapt quickly to meet both the demands of the organization and improve the old processes.” 

As such, enterprises are struggling to create and measure business value while managing an increasing threat landscape, which makes continuous testing even more valuable. Now more than ever, it is critical to have as much visibility as possible into the efforts being made by various teams. For example, cyber-attacks continue to be on the rise, and many organizations that fall victim was targeted due to a compromised application. 

Receiving feedback early in the delivery pipeline is critical in avoiding material attacks like these, as identifying issues in your code sooner will result in better informing the build promotion processes and increased insight to make the correct decisions on build promotion. Continuous testing allows your teams to assess both potential and existing threats and extinguish them early, all of which is essential in delivering better business value in your organization. 

Continuous testing for improved digital transformation 

Driving digital transformation and improving the customer experience has become a top priority for most companies in order to differentiate themselves from their highly competitive markets. In response, IT leaders are striving to adopt modern testing approaches such as continuous automated testing. These approaches will help companies keep pace with modern delivery and ensure they are providing an optimal digital experience that drives value for both the business and the customer. 

“What it boils down to is that testing earlier, better, and faster is the new imperative for organizations,” Lugo says. 

Common challenges 

But this strategy is easier said than done, as driving digital transformation and improving the customer experience isn’t always as easy to accomplish as teams would expect. Many dev and testing teams today face challenges that can hinder the adoption of continuous, automated testing: 

  • Higher Release Velocity: As continuous delivery and integration accelerate, manual testing quickly becomes a bottleneck that creates inefficiencies in the Value Stream as it’s slow, expensive, and resource-intensive. 
  • Delayed Test Feedback: When testing occurs at the end of the SDLC, defects are significantly more time-consuming and difficult to fix. This drives up cost, delays time to market, and increases the business risk of software release candidates. 
  • Inefficient Environments: Inadequate testing environments hinder developers’ and testers’ productivity and efficiency. As fragmented device models expand test surfaces, existing testing environments lack the scalability and basic functionality needed to ensure proper test coverage. 

The value of cloud testing 

The cloud landscape is constantly changing as vendors roll out managed services and new commercial, open-sourced tools gain popularity. Organizations have to make decisions regarding platforms, products, and services that will best suit their needs and use whatever they can to optimize their use of cloud computing technology. 

 As such, there are several important benefits to consider ensuring the highest quality cloud testing solution, including: 

  • Simple and hassle-free 
  • What you need, when you need it 
  • Fast and scalable 
  • In alignment with teams and have code reuse 
  • No downtime 
  • Global collaboration 

The solution you deploy should be developer-friendly and integrate with your existing development tools, testing frameworks, and continuous integration environments. It should be enterprise-ready so as to be able to scale your business with ease and be capable of executing over 1.5 million tests per day. Organizations need to test multiple data centers globally and on different devices to get a real picture of how well the apps work in different markets. 

With all these factors in place, customers can demand more from their solutions as they undergo their digital transformation, and your business can subsequently meet customer needs without sacrificing quality. 

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