DevOps is no longer an emerging concept or approach. However, global enterprises are still struggling with the exact idea and definition of DevOps. Experts and industry enthusiasts have been trying to consistently build a static set of principles and practices for DevOps. Broadly, DevOps continues to be referred as an approach that encourages collaboration between Development teams and IT (Information Technology) professionals. The underlying objective is to ensure Quality with speed, while automating software delivery and changes in the infrastructure.
Gartner refers to DevOps as a philosophy, a cultural shift that merges operations with development and demands a linked toolchain of technologies to facilitate collaborative change. Laurie Wurster, research director at Gartner states that "In response to the rapid change in business today, DevOps can help organizations that are pushing to implement a bimodal strategy to support their digitalization efforts." This brings into perspective the practices that DevOps entails especially for enterprises on the digital mode, namely, Continuous Delivery, Continuous Improvement, and Continuous Integration.
Previously in software engineering set-up, QA was regarded as an independent activity to be performed by the Development team, with separate roles and expectations from developers and testers. They were referred to as two autonomous entities. However, when it comes to people who are not part of the software engineering process (say Operations), Development and QA is unanimous and work cohesively to achieve a common objective.
DevOps brings Development and Operations together with the sheer objective of ensuring quality and enabling faster time to market. However, what happens to QA in this scenario? How does the Testing team fit in?
Let's ponder on this further and understand the role of QA and Testing in the DevOps world. DevOps magnifies the agile software development approach further, which enables software development and testing to take place simultaneously, and emphasizes on continuous collaboration amongst all stakeholders. DevOps has been considered to ensure quality at every stage, so if it is not maintained, the core objective of the approach fails.
With competition sprawling across like wildfire, there is a serious need for enterprises to cater to the diverse needs of the consumers and ensuring that the changes happen in real-time. DevOps comes into play to help businesses respond to the rapidly changing market changes and eventually attain competitive advantage and growth. So, QA blends throughout the DevOps journey at every stage.
Let's further break down the reasons why QA is inevitable in the DevOps journey.
1. QA plays a strategic role
In the DevOps scenario, testers and developers both play a crucial role, where the peculiarity between the developer and tester's job role gets blurred. QA is built in together with development and operations that enables them to collaborate to build a flawless application or software. QA plays a strategic role in ensuring that quality is taken up as a responsibility by both Development and Operations.
So, everyone in the organization takes responsibility to ensure quality and stability, building sustainability. Interestingly, developers end up thinking like a tester and vice versa. In such an environment, if the QA strategy is not thought through then the scope of continuous testing diminishes and the core objectives of speed and quality cannot be met.
2. QA is a bridge between Development and Operations
So, Development and Operations collaborate to deliver their expected roles, - but where does QA pitch in? Quality Assurance plays a crucial role in delivering business value, as despite being broken down into silos and delivering their respective roles, quality must be ensured throughout.
QA & Testing continues to be a catalyst to accelerate time to market in the DevOps initiatives. DevOps is a step by step approach and to ensure Continuous Delivery and Integration, Quality should be checked at every stage.
3. QA helps detect bugs earlier
In a traditional software development scenario, QA works towards detecting bugs. However, in the DevOps scenario the role of QA goes beyond this. The responsibility of QA matures to preventing the bugs in the first place. This supports in a set-up where there is constant need for fresh releases and that too in few minutes or hours. So, Manual Testing is impossible to be considered here.
In the current competitive scenario, for instance, a mobile application that is currently in the market and needs an upgrade, how can this be possible without impacting the user? DevOps makes this possible and QA supports in helping to manage the quality. In this way, QA remains integral to every release in a DevOps set-up.
4. QA as a "gatekeeper" for software release
QA and Testing has always been the checkpoint for releasing a market ready and robust software/application. Nevertheless, in the DevOps scenario, QA integrates into Development and Operations, resulting in an Agile outcome. This enables continuous development and delivery of applications.
For instance, in a DevOps environment, the QA releases fresh code into production, and DevOps teams provide infrastructure and required tools to swiftly deploy the code. This further ensures smooth functioning of the application/software.
5. QA helps deliver the objectives of DevOps
More and more enterprises are embracing DevOps for its intrinsic benefits of continuous delivery and deployment. With this we are consistently advancing towards an age that encourages faster build and testing to meet the demands of the market and the consumers. This intensifies the need for constant quality checks, as flawless quality is rooted within the core ideologies of DevOps approach and cannot be considered separately.
QA helps DevOps deliver on its core objectives, so it is an inseparable quotient in the DevOps journey.
DevOps approach is definitely reinventing the role of testers, as there is an increasing need to test constantly and along with development. In such a taxing and demanding scenario, there is need to ensure that faster time to market along with cost-effectiveness. This further endorses the role of QA and remains inseparable from DevOps.
DevOps and QA are extremely critical while testing Digital Technologies and developing applications in an environment that needs constant development, delivery, and deployment.
Hemanth Kumar Yamjala is Senior Executive, Digital Marketing, at Cigniti Technologies.