In terms of cultural movements within the technology space, it’s hard to dispute that DevOps principles and practices have become universally known and widely adopted to varying degrees across the globe. However, the exact definition of DevOps can change depending on the view of the group discussing it; for example, it can simply refer to a job title, or it can mean revamping an entire application lifecycle. Still, the idea of streamlining and automating the toolchains used by development and operations teams (often known as pipelines) is at the core of all DevOps initiatives.
There are aspects of these DevOps pipelines that add a tremendous amount of value to the overall quality of the product that’s being produced, but that tends to be overlooked. Two DevOps-related concepts that fall into this category are DevSecOps and DevTestOps.
DevTestOps aims to reinforce the idea that continuous testing is the glue that holds the entire DevOps dream together. If continuous testing isn’t thoroughly integrated into all stages of your development-to-production pipeline, are you really building the level of digital confidence your business deserves?
To provide some background, continuous testing is a combination of TestOps and “shift left” philosophies. TestOps uses automation to streamline the planning, execution, and monitoring of testing that happens within software development projects.
Shift left is the principle that things need to happen earlier on any given timeline (and since timelines are usually visualized as going from left to right, this means shifting things to the left). In this case, shift left testing means embedding testing as early as possible (or as far left as possible) in the process. This is very different from the traditional process, where teams run one massive test as a sort of final step in the delivery pipeline (and that was the first time the system was fully end-to-end tested).
Testing can start as early as performing static code analysis and unit tests within the developer’s local environment. Then, more complex tests can be added as the project moves through its lifecycle. For example, the next step where testing could be introduced would be when the application is run post-build (when you could perform dynamic application security and integration testing). The ability to hand off a component to the next team with the confidence that all of the interfaces work and there are no obvious security issues will improve the overall product quality and reduce the number of test/fix cycles that can delay feature releases.
Some of the immediate benefits that come with DevOps are faster delivery, better collaboration, and a more agile environment overall. DevTestOps expands on these benefits by increasing the reliability of the application, reducing the number of handoffs that need to happen, and simplifying root cause analysis (as errors are caught earlier when there are fewer components in the mix). You also gain the ability to report on the health of the application code at specific checkpoints as automated testing is performed, including the first time that code is committed, when pull requests are created, during pre- and post-build stages, and even during the deployment process.
Implementing DevTestOps is a matter of extending any existing continuous integration, continuous delivery, and continuous deployment pipelines you have in use with an automation toolchain that can support the types of testing you need to do. This could include API testing for microservices environments, mobile device testing (on real or emulated devices), or cross-browser testing. Once you have some of the testing in place, you need a solution to collect, correlate, and visualize the results for consumption within your organization.
Regardless of how far along you are toward implementing a DevOps culture within your organization, adopting a more targeted approach like the DevTestOps model can provide significant benefits.
One of the most important pieces of the puzzle is having expert guidance during the journey, including knowledge of proven best practices (which others had to learn the hard way) and how to leverage tools for automated testing. Sauce Labs provides that expertise, along with all the advantages of having a single testing platform for all continuous testing.
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