With increasing competition in the business and tech space, a key differentiator that gives an edge to organizations is faster delivery to market, superior customer experience, and constant innovation. Companies that integrate DevOps practices can deliver higher performance with greater speed, more functionalities, and innovation.
In addition to this, adapting to an agile environment from the traditional sequential waterfall model has come handy for the organizations, enabling a quick turnaround time by incorporating iterations at any stage of the project.
Agile methodology is a practice that encourages the continuous iteration of development and testing throughout the software development life cycle of a project. Continuous feedback and continuous iterations have led to continuous integration (CI) and continuous deployment (CD).
By leveraging the power that CI/CD led processes to offer, companies have successfully pivoted their business strategies, improving their overall performance. These processes have rendered organizations to deploy faster release cycles with frequent updates and continuous feedback incorporation at each stage.
While development and operations are crucial stages of a product development process, another important stage is testing. Earlier, companies used to follow traditional testing methodology, which is performed in a phased manner, following a top-down approach wherein the completion of one phase of testing lead to another phase. It used manual test suites for each feature to ensure that the entire software is working fine, especially after every development or iteration to fix any bugs/errors.
However, with the agile methodology software development, companies have been able to achieve better as well as accurate results. The modern approach for testing promotes face-to-face interactions rather than documentation, offers effective and efficient risk management with rapid product delivery, along with optimum quality.
Continuous integration (CI) is a development practice where developers integrate code into a shared repository frequently to render updated codes for a product several times a day. The main purpose of using Continuous Integration is to minimize integration time to accelerate time-to-market.
One of the key drivers for using CI to its fullest potential is automation testing. Each integration can be verified by an automated build and automated tests that have good coverage, run fast and give accurate results. Though it is not imperative to use automated tests for CI, it is typically implied for enhanced results.
Continuous Delivery (CD)
Continuous Delivery (CD) is the natural extension of Continuous Integration (CI), an approach in which teams ensure that every version, feature, and functionality of a software is error-less and ready to be deployed with the push of a button. It harnesses the power of an automated approach to deploy quickly and successfully.
The main aim of Continuous Delivery (CD) is to deliver successful builds- including new features, configurations, bug fixes, and updates – into pre-decided target environments such as QA, UAT, and production.
Continuous Delivery can help organizations become lean, agile, and innovative. Using reliable and low-risk releases, continuous delivery enables organizations to update their existing products and incorporate user feedback, shifts in the market, and changes in the business strategy. One can deploy to production as early as possible to make sure that small batches are released which are easy to troubleshoot in case of a problem.
Continuous testing utilizes automated test results as a part of the software delivery pipeline to get feedback on the business risks linked with a software release as quickly and efficiently as possible. It uses sanity and regression testing in most cases that generate automated extent reports for each feature.
The extent report shows whether the previous integration was successfully adapted by the software without disrupting the existing environment/code or not. If in case of success, it enables further integration and validates a successful build. But in case of a failure, it brings out the errors/bugs and helps identify if there is a gap or blocker for that feature in the build.
Automated feedback acts as an automatic trigger at each checkpoint during a delivery pipeline, which decides whether to move forward with the next set of tests or not, depending on the feedback. If the feedback is not to proceed further, the development is instantly paused, corrective measures are taken, and then the tests are rerun.
Continuous Integration, Continuous Testing and Continuous Delivery in Dev-test-Ops
As software becomes the key to creating a competitive edge across all markets, enterprises no longer want to settle for either just ‘quality’ or ‘speed’ while developing or delivering software. Both are critical. With more companies shifting to agile methodologies and incorporating DevOps initiatives, Continuous Integration (CI), Continuous Testing (CT) and Continuous Delivery (CD) have emerged as key catalysts enabling quality with speed.
Though Continuous Integration is a tool-driven activity, and Continuous Delivery is a tool and team-driven practice, Continuous Testing has a wide spectrum that involves tools, individuals, teams, and services. Building and integrating code changes significantly improve the software development cycle of a product.
If executed correctly, Continuous Testing can serve as the centerpiece of the agile downstream process. It reduces bottlenecks by reducing the cost of provisioning and streamlining the process of test environment creation. The biggest advantage of using continuous testing is achieving quality with speed. It allows the team to introduce quality gates anywhere and in any number, in order to achieve higher quality.
So, if at all, a code fails for testing at one particular point of quality in a pipeline, the team can go back and automatically fail the deployment up to that point, take requisite measures and redeploy the updated code. In this way, it contributes great value to development as well as operations teams. Continuous Testing enables them to visualize what the problem actually is or if there could be any faulty environment functions that need some changes.
Dev-Test-Ops ensures that the product or the development team involved in the process of a particular product has access to the required test infrastructure, platforms, and frameworks without having to spend a lot of time in configuring it before proceeding with testing.
Dev-Test-Ops plays a significant role in a software lifecycle, but it is important to understand that merely using these 3 stages cannot resolve all challenges associated with the typical development of software. Implementing best practices in automated processes can help teams leverage the benefit of using automated scripts that are quite feasible, fast, and easily deployable.
Integrating Dev-test-ops can result in the accelerated software development process with accurate results. However, the key driver to a successful and faster build is the cohesive network and collaboration between different teams in an organization.
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