Test orchestration is the arrangement of automated tests into a consecutive sequence for execution. It’s a method that focuses on strategically choosing specific tests (performance, functional, unit, etc.) and deciding on the order of executing tests. Software development teams that adopt test orchestration can streamline the testing process, improve transparency at each testing stage, release faster, and ultimately create a higher quality product.
Automation alone is not enough for continuous testing to succeed. While tests can be automated, a certain degree of manual work is still required to start the test, make adjustments, and ensure the test environment is stable, making it prone to human error. This manual effort slows down the testing process and further delays product delivery.
This is where test orchestration can help.
But first, what exactly is test orchestration? Test orchestration is the arrangement of automated tests into a consecutive sequence for execution. It’s a method that focuses on strategically choosing specific tests (performance, functional, unit, etc.) and deciding on the order of executing tests. Software development teams that adopt test orchestration can streamline the testing process, improve transparency at each testing stage, release faster, and ultimately create a higher-quality product.
An orchestrated testing pipeline embedded in the CI/CD pipeline can help overcome challenges such as limited test environments, lack of communication and collaboration between teams, and performance issues. Test orchestration can also be used for conducting more complex software testing, such as end-to-end testing, security testing, compliance testing, and upgrade testing.
Why should software teams include test orchestration as part of their automated testing strategy? Test orchestration puts the required tests in a linear sequence for execution. It enables software teams to run the tests and repeat them, if necessary, within a shorter timeframe without affecting quality.
The benefits of test orchestration include:
In the 2022 State of Software Testing Report, 59% of survey respondents indicated that continuous testing was an important testing strategy. Adopting test orchestration introduces efficiencies in the pipeline that can drive continuous testing and continuous delivery. Testing can begin earlier in the process, enabling a true shift-left approach to testing where bugs are detected and fixed before they affect the development lifecycle. Since testing is often an obstacle to achieving continuous delivery, test orchestration helps improve the quality and speed of delivering releases.
Planning for test orchestration requires bringing together developers, testers, product managers, and other stakeholders to decide on what needs to be tested for the overall success of the product. Previously, siloed teams didn’t know about the status of releases, understand the quality of code, or how their work affected other teams. Test orchestration provides greater visibility into each testing phase with faster feedback loops and test data, so software teams can gain clarity, and communicate and collaborate more effectively.
A lot of time and resources are dedicated to maintaining the testing pipeline. Another significant benefit of test orchestration is that executing a series of tests together speeds up the testing process, allowing developers to deliver builds faster into production. Different kinds of tests can also be run simultaneously and repeated as needed. This saves time and money by using resources more efficiently while getting products to market faster for higher revenue outcomes.
With customers demanding seamless web and app experiences, every experience matters. A poor user experience with persistent errors and security flaws may negatively effect a brand’s reputation. In fact, 23% of respondents in Sauce Labs' The 2022 State of User Experience Report said they have zero tolerance for long load times, with 26% saying they have zero tolerance for poor security. Test orchestration eliminates errors earlier, expands test coverage, and boosts productivity resulting in the release of higher-quality products in a shorter time.
Before jumping into the actual testing, creating a test orchestration plan ensures the right tests are automated to achieve the desired results. Failing to properly plan for test orchestration can waste time and resources, and negatively affect the quality of the software.
To create a test orchestration plan follow these steps:
Determine the purpose and scope of your test orchestration plan – Disparate testing strategies are inefficient and costly, while a coordinated effort between teams can help organizations release software faster.
Agree on what will be tested – Clarifying what is being tested, how it's being tested, and why can help teams work together toward the agreed upon goals.
Choose the tools for testing – The right tools support a range of testing requirements, integrate with other testing tools, provide actionable insights, and enable team collaboration.
Share and analyze the test results – Test orchestration helps to compile and organize data for a better understanding of how to improve quality.
Ultimately, a test orchestration plan helps narrows down the testing activities to be executed and what tools are needed for the testing to be successful.
Test orchestration tools offer capabilities that optimize testing workflows, increase productivity, and lower costs. It's important to choose cloud-based tools that offer flexibility, integrate with your CI/CD pipeline, and can manage complex processes.
Some of the most popular testing tools include:
Jenkins – An open source server used for automating the building and testing of software.
Docker – A platform for developing, shipping, and running applications.
GitLab CI/CD – A tool for building, testing, and deploying software.
Ansible – A suite of tools for software provisioning, configuring systems, and orchestrating advanced workflows in application development.
However, the best tools not only support test orchestration goals but give software teams confidence in the quality of the software being released. The Sauce DevOps Test Toolchain empowers teams to release faster with a secure all-in-one platform for continuous testing and error monitoring. This platform helps teams discover quality signals throughout the software lifecycle that drive continuous improvements for quality and velocity.
Test orchestration helps software teams deliver quality products at speed by executing a series of tests that saves time and provides valuable insights during the testing process. It can help overcome the challenges of the CI/CD pipeline, including conducting more complex tests, and improve communication and collaboration between teams.
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