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DevOps and continuous testing: How one company doubled its builds-per-month

MichaelGarrett

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As we’ve expanded our DevOps consulting practice in HPE Software Services, we’ve helped many organisations increase their speed and agility. There are many on-ramps to DevOps, but continuous testing is one where many of our customers see significant gains. From there, those wins can be used as proof points to support continued DevOps transformation. (See our white paper on DevOps metrics, Measuring DevOps success, to learn more. Registration required.)

One simple way to practice continuous testing is to expand your test coverage. It sounds basic, but the inability of QA to consume all the code Dev produces has a serious bottom-line impact. Because you’re not testing enough, you’re allowing defects and issues into production. When these occur in mission-critical applications, you’re putting your business on the line.

Enterprises must solve their testing problems if they’re to deliver the speed and agility that the New Style of Business demands. Everyone wants to go to market faster. So how can you stop testing from holding you back?

Why testing is a bottleneck

Most enterprises know they have a problem with testing. But knowing about a problem and solving it are two different things. In many enterprises we work with, testing resources are spread too thin. A few mission-critical applications may go through strict testing. But the speed and quality of testing are still inadequate.

For other applications, the situation is even worse. Resource constraints mean IT might bypass testing and push directly to production. They just need the application out there. But as soon as the application is deployed, users find multiple issues. Your user experience and customer satisfaction suffers.

There are many reasons organisations struggle with testing, but here are some of the most common:

  • Weak test data management
  • Delays in provisioning test environments
  • Little virtualization to simulate environments
  • Lack of automation (and consequently, reliance on manual, error-prone processes)
  • Saving all the testing for QA (which almost ensures that testing will be a bottleneck)

Improving test coverage

The good news is that testing is one area where you can make dramatic improvements that will ultimately benefit the business. HPE Software Services recently worked with one client, a global transportation brand, to improve test coverage on a critical customer-facing application. Their situation was common. Dev was producing more code than the test team could consume.

This client needed help implementing a solution and strategically automating their processes. We worked with them to implement continuous integration and continuous testing solutions. Once the code is checked in, they’re now able to do continuous builds and continuous testing. Before continuous integration and testing they could only test six to eight builds per month. But now they’ve just about doubled that to consume 10 to 12 builds in QA.

This is a very good example of a case where continuous integration and testing ensured faster test coverage. Right now our customer deploys to production monthly and has significantly improved quality and reliability.

7 tips to improve testing

We’ve helped a number of customers improve their testing practices. Here’s some general advice drawn from our experience: 

  • Shift-left: Shift left testing, shift left monitoring, and shift left security. Do difficult things earlier, because fixing issues earlier is much less costly than fixing them in production.
  • Application Lifecycle Management: Use an ALM system so you have complete visibility of your requirements, test cases, defects, relationship between them, status, tracking and reports. 
  • Continuous testing: Automate your entire test suite to remove waste and errors.
  • Service virtualization: Use service virtualization to simulate software components and system interfaces.
  • Network virtualization: Discover and capture network conditions.
  • Test data management: Automate to make test data readily available.
  • Cloud-based QA environments: Use cloud services so that you can provision new resources in minutes.

The pressure to go to market faster means many enterprises struggle with reliability and quality of their applications. The more you can improve your testing, the more you can align with the speed of development, and the more you improve the quality of your applications.

To learn more about how you can track the results of your DevOps initiatives see “Measuring DevOps success: How do you know DevOps is working? Watch these KPIs.” Or watch the video, “Shifting from silos to DevOps.”

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MichaelGarrett

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