Beyond Waterfall and Agile: DevOps the Next Frontier

Posted Mar 2nd, 2022

Software development is constantly evolving, from technologies to best practices to methodologies. But the end goal remains the same: how can we bring new features to market faster to keep our customers happy without sacrificing the quality of our product?

Enter DevOps. DevOps is an engineering culture or philosophy that aims to increase the speed and efficiency of the software development process so companies can innovate faster while maintaining the integrity of their product.

In a DevOps model, the development and operations teams align, sometimes as a single team, around processes and best practices for continuous integration, continuous delivery, and continuous testing. With DevOps, the development and operations teams–and sometimes the QA team–work together to manage the software development lifecycle (SDLC), or DevOps pipeline, from development and testing to deployment, operations, and production.

The benefits of DevOps—increased speed and efficiency, greater collaboration, reduced risk, and continuous feedback—can help organizations ship updates faster, keep customers happy, and increase revenue. But how does DevOps fit into the widely used waterfall- and agile-style development methodologies? And what role can DevOps play in your web testing strategy?

This blog post discusses each development methodology and how your organization can seamlessly incorporate the DevOps mindset into your testing strategy.

What is Waterfall Development?

With waterfall development, coding, testing, and delivery happen manually and in sequence. Additionally, the development, operations, and QA teams operate in silos and don’t collaborate.

However, some organizations practice what’s known as “fast waterfall,” which is essentially an in-between step to adopting an agile development process. Teams that practice fast waterfall still deliver software sequentially, but they also use tools like GitHub to add automation and scalability to their workflows. These teams also do some automated testing, but with limitations that hinder the speed and efficiency of their testing (e.g., they don’t practice parallel testing). 

What is Agile Development?

The agile development methodology enables iterative and continuous code releases. Agile allows for software development teams to adapt to changing priorities on the go, which increases their overall productivity and the quality of the product while delivering updates to customers more frequently.

With agile development, teams use continuous integration platforms like Jenkins, CircleCI, and TeamCity to automate specific processes and enable developers, operations, and QA teams to work in sync. 

Why are Waterfall and Agile Still Important Today?

The waterfall and agile methodologies each have a place in software development today. Choosing the right method for your organization depends on what you need to accomplish.

Benefits of Waterfall

Although waterfall-style development is considered an outmoded methodology, its straightforward structure can be the best option for projects that are smaller, well-defined, and unlikely to change significantly. Other benefits include:

  • Prescribed deliverables and review processes

  •  Easy for new teams to get started 

Waterfall Limitations:

  • Unable to scale up for larger projects or teams

  • Lack of flexibility prevents changes throughout the process

  • Requires clear requirements

  • Long testing process (late-stage bugs can delay the release process, parallel testing isn’t supported)

Benefits of Agile

Agile-style development’s flexible, incremental style is best suited for larger development organizations and projects. Other benefits include:

  • Enables teams to be motivated and self-organized, leading to better outcomes 

  • Allows for changes on the go

  • Maintains development quality

  • Reduces risk and delays in the development process because team members can easily see and track progress

Agile Limitations:

  • Not designed for small teams

  • Can be difficult for beginners to implement without the help of an expert

  • Can be expensive

  • The project can get off track if the project manager doesn’t set clear expectations 

When to Use Waterfall vs. Agile in Your Testing

While most test automation experts agree that agile is the best overall approach for software development and testing, there can be a time and place for waterfall methodology. Determining which method is best for your organization involves factors like your team’s size and level of experience, your budget, and the type of project.

How Can DevOps Be Applied to Agile Testing?

DevOps hinges on continuous integration and continuous delivery practices that enable small but frequent software updates. To ensure DevOps can operate at scale, processes like continuous testing, monitoring, and logging should happen at each stage of the DevOps pipeline. This continuous feedback loop helps to increase the speed at which quality signals are received from development through production.

Cloud-based web app testing platforms can help development teams add continuous testing to their CI/CD pipelines effectively and efficiently. Cloud-based testing tools enable parallel testing, visual testing, cross-browser testing, continuous monitoring, and other best practices that support the DevOps philosophy.

Conclusion

While it might not be possible for your organization to jump from waterfall-style development to an agile, DevOps-centered testing strategy overnight, the key is to take a more gradual and tactical approach. By prioritizing what can be automated and aligning your development, operations, and QA teams around the same CI/CD processes and best practices, your organization can innovate faster and keep customers happy.


Written by

Sauce Labs


Topics

DevOps


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