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How Are Agile, Devops, And Continuous Testing Connected

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By Author: Michael
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Digital transformation brought about by quality software applications and robust hardware platforms helps to create a competitive advantage for enterprises across verticals and geographies. Now it is no longer about choosing between speed or quality of software but to incorporate both when delivering to the end customers. With Agile and DevOps being embraced by enterprises to stay up the competitive curve, Continuous Integration (CI), Continuous Delivery (CD,) and Continuous Testing (CT) have become the catalysts to drive quality digital transformation.

It goes without saying that Continuous Testing has become critical and challenging. Further, CI and CD are primarily tool and team-driven activities while CT is comprehensive in its scope. It includes teams, tools, testers, and services. The importance of driving and integrating code changes cannot be ignored in the SDLC. At the same time, unless the automated delivery system can figure out the impact of such code changes on customer experience, CI and CD could become meaningless.

The rising competition and changing market dynamics have put pressure on enterprises to innovate and change. And Agile and DevOps in consonance with continuous testing offer the framework to address the requirement. At the heart of digital transformation lies the need to deliver software quickly, safely, and reliably, which can be achieved through continuous testing in DevOps.

Why continuous testing?
The customers of today are wont to use software applications across a plethora of devices, operating platforms, browsers, and networks. They want the applications to be high performing, navigable, scalable, secure, intuitive, and fast-loading. These attributes can only be fostered if the software development process supports a robust QA mechanism in the Agile or DevOps mold. Unlike in the traditional or manual way of testing where QA comes after development as a separate discipline, the Agile or DevOps model has QA being part of an integrated team with development.

In Agile testing, the software under various stages of development is tested for performance, security, usability, scalability, and many more. Thus, glitches are identified and fixed early in the SDLC leading to the delivery of quality software. A continuous testing strategy enables enterprises to put in place the processes, systems, and automation to accelerate the time to market, install improved feedback loops, and deliver desirable business outcomes. The outcomes, on their part, comprise top quality products and services, operational efficiency, responsiveness, competitive differentiation, and enhanced customer experience.

The continuous testing services create a quick and risk-free feedback loop for the QA specialists in the Agile testing pipeline to understand (and act upon) the issues faced by the end customers. These services help to manage business risks borne out of the complexity and pace of application delivery.

Why Agile-DevOps?
To thrive in a competitive business environment, enterprises must address issues like time constraints and resource mobilization to build-test-deliver applications that are qualitatively superior, secure, and stable. This engenders a renewed focus on continuous test automation and collaboration.
• The DevOps approach is ideal for enterprises that struggle to manage demand and implement rapid changes in the SDLC.
• DevOps allows enterprises to address their acceleration and integration needs by establishing a toolchain that cuts across the realms of development, QA, integration, management, and delivery.
• The silo-driven Development and Operations teams should be integrated to drive better collaboration. Further, the pipeline should have a built-in mechanism to receive continuous feedback and to generate better quality features and functionalities.

DevOps: the extension of Agile
In the Agile model of software development, developers create user stories comprising smaller chunks of the build to generate feedback loops and to align the product to the market need. It started with small teams comprising developers and QA testers working collaboratively and efficiently. Thereafter came the notion of scale wherein the software code was developed in short iterations. However, down the pipeline, when it came to deployment and receiving feedback, the silo-driven processes stifled what was expected of Agile.

Consequently, the process was further refined by automating and streamlining the SDLC and incorporating Continuous Integration (CI). In CI, the code is tested repeatedly and integrated to create a stream of small but frequent releases. However, these challenged the Ops team, which found it difficult to keep pace with Development. So, while Agile addressed the issues developers faced with glitches being passed on to the next phase, the DevOps approach turned out to be more effective. It treated the entire SDLC as a monolith of collaborative processes that generate better outcomes.

Continuous Delivery and Testing
To support the strategic business needs, enterprises seem to have graduated from performing CI to implementing CD. In doing so, they have finetuned both processes and technical frameworks. So, from creating CI builds and executing testing to achieving deployment, the Continuous Delivery and Continuous Testing methodologies have covered all dimensions of the organization’s operations. These ensure the quick and frequent deployment of quality software applications to the end customers. The questions to be asked while implementing a continuous testing framework are:
• Is the software application deployable during its lifestyle?
• Can the software application be deployed while the team is working on its new features?
• Can the process receive quick and automated feedback each time a change is implemented?
• Can a push-button deployment be performed for a software version in any environment?

How does Agile, DevOps, and Continuous Testing benefit enterprises
These interconnected methodologies help enterprises in several ways.
• Accelerated time to market
• Better productivity and efficiency
• Frequent releases of reliable and stable builds
• Capability to build products aligned to the market
• Better feedback mechanism
• Superior customer experiences

The need for enterprises to be the disrupter in the market by producing or delivering top-quality software products or services has put focus on methodologies like Agile, DevOps, and Continuous Testing. The complementary relationship among the three methodologies has led to the overhauling of processes and working culture in favor of a new paradigm where quality deployment is a continuous process.

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