What is a Continuous Testing in DevOps? (Definition, Benefits, Tools)

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In DevOps (Development & Operations), continuous testing is a sub-category of software testing, in which the software is tested and verified at each stage of the software development lifecycle (SDLC). The main aim of performing continuous testing is to assess quality and performance of the software at each step of the Continuous Delivery Process, through early and persistent testing.

Continuous testing along with Continuous Integration, is essential to Continuous Delivery Pipeline. In continuous testing, we run automated tests, continuously against the software code base and the deployment environments. Continuous testing comprises of unit tests, static code and security code analysis, integration tests, load tests and performance tests. All these tests are executed in an automated continuous testing pipeline. Continuous testing is often referred to as CT.

The process of continuous testing involves all the stakeholders (developers, DevOps, QA and operational system).

How is Continuous Testing different from other types of testing?

The traditional way of testing was mostly hand off centric, in which the software product was handed from one team to the other. The project had definite development and QA phases, and the QA team was usually given more time to guarantee software quality. The aim was quality and not the project schedule.

But, with time the demand for faster delivery of the software to the end-users rapidly increased. The idea is, the newer the software, the more it can be marketed and higher is its ability to generate revenue. Thus, a new way of testing was developed. Bu the term “continuous”, we mean undisturbed or undisrupted. In a continuous DevOps process, the software continuously moves from the development phase to the testing phase to the deployment phase. The software code is persistently developed, delivered, tested, and then deployed.

For example, when a development team checks the code in a Source Code Server (e.g., Jenkins), automated unit tests are performed in the continuous process. In case the test fails, the build is rejected and the development team is notified. However, if the test passes, the build is deployed to QA servers for functional and load testing. Both the testing is performed simultaneously, in parallel. If the tests pass, then the build is deployed to the production environment.

Difference between Continuous Testing and Automated Testing

The following table highlights the major differences between Continuous Testing and Automated Testing −

Test AutomationContinuous Testing
Testing process in which software or tool is used to automate testsThe testing methodology emphasizes achieving continuous quality and improvement in the software
A sequence of similar tasks that a machine can perform with fewer mistakesHelps identify and address risks, and improve the quality of the software
Can be done without integrating continuous testingCannot be done without test automation
The software can be delivered within a month or yearsSoftware may be delivered within weeks or hours
In practice for decades to speed up testing processA new concept
Feedback is regularly provided after testing of each software releaseFeedback is provided instantly at each stage

Process of Continuous Testing

  • Use tools/software to create a test automation suite from the user requirements.

  • Prepare the test environment.

  • Copy the production data.

  • Create the test data bed.

  • Test the API using service virtualization.

  • Perform performance testing, in parallel.

Tools for Continuous Testing

  • Jenkins − This tool, which is written in Java, can be configured through GUI interface or console commands.

  • QuerySurge − QuerySurge is a smart and full DevOps tool for continuous testing. Some of its main features are; robust API with more than 60 calls, detailed data intelligence, data analytics, seamless integration with the DevOps pipeline. QuerySurge can also be used for verifying the massive amount of data quickly.

  • Travis − This tool, which is hosted on GitHub, provides hosted as well as on-premise variants. It supports a variety of languages and provides good documentation.

  • Selenium − This is an open-source continuous testing tool, which supports all the major browsers (Firefox, Chrome, Internet Explorer, Safari). It offers Selenium WebDriver which can automate web applications testing.

  • Katalon Studio − This continuous testing tool, which is built on top of selenium, provides an extensive platform for automated testing of web, UI, API, desktop, and mobile applications.

Advantages of Continuous Testing

  • It speeds up software delivery.

  • It enhances the quality of the software code.

  • It helps cover exact business risks.

  • It is tightly and seamlessly integrated into the DevOps process.

  • It helps create agile and reliable processes quickly.

  • Its continuous feedback mechanism speeds up time-to-market.

  • It easily dissolves the gap between development, testing and operation teams.

  • It helps merge isolated or siloed teams in order to meet enterprise requirements.

  • Automated testing helps us gain and maintain consistency through the same configuration for all the user tests.

  • Continuous testing focuses on business expectations and requirements to reduce business risks.

  • Its Service Virtualization provides access to test environments.

Challenges involved in Continuous Testing

  • It puts restrictions on cultural shifts among development and QA professionals. They face difficulty in adjusting to DevOps. They are unable to process the right continuous testing tools and methodologies in agile and DevOps environments.

  • If we maintain only traditional testing methodologies and processes and test data management, even if they are cot clearly defined, then continuous testing may not attain its full potential.

  • The heterogeneous testing environment may not ever imitate the real production environment.

  • It demands continuous code integration, which when not met may create defects, bugs or issues with duplicated coding efforts and non-compatible code.

Keys to Continuous Testing

Continuous testing demands high-level collaboration, where each team member contributes to quality and cooperation. Test cases are defined before commencing coding or writing test cases. Developers and automation professionals have to work together to optimize code for test automation. Some of the best practices involved in continuous testing are −

  • Simplifying things and keeping them logical to minimize test waiting time.

  • Testing must be done at all the stages of a delivery pipeline.

  • Testing must be able to cover the entire QA environment and asset’s production, to provide feedback continuously to developers at all stages, and to ensure the quality of the software.

  • Organizations must have the access to all the required DevOps tools, dependencies, and resources.

Continuous testing is essential to the continuous integration and deployment process pipeline. Continuous testing enables the continuous movement of continuous integration / continuous delivery, i.e., CI/CD pipeline code, from development to testing to deployment. The three key components of continuous testing are −

  • Automated Testing

  • Continuous Delivery

  • Continuous Integration

Automated Testing

For continuous testing, companies have to develop a robust test automation plan. This plan should emphasize all the aspects of testing, including API and UI testing. Choosing a particular area to perform testing may be valuable in some cases; however, companies should always be equipped with a test plan that can include all types of testing, as per the requirement.

Some of the best practice of continuous testing includes automated testing, as and when possible, in the software development lifecycle. It ensures that the testing team verifies and evaluates the validity of the software code at each stage. Thus, it provides insights for determining whether the software is ready to enter the delivery pipeline or not.

Also, automated testing helps gain feedback about the risks involved in the software release, quickly. It also addresses the complexity and pace of app deployment and delivery in the modern era.

Automated testing makes companies more agile. It helps implement an agile testing process, in which long test scripts are updated frequently through automation.

Continuous Delivery (CD)

CD is a testing practice in which the changes in the software code are automatically prepared for deployment to production. It is essential for modern-era application development. It is built upon continuous integration (CI).

If CD is implemented accurately, the developing team will always have a ready-tobe-developed asset, that is passed through a standard testing process. CD helps automate the testing processes beyond unit tests in test-driven development. It also helps verify the software updates across multiple platforms before it is delivered to the customers. The tests include UI, load, integration, API, and regression testing.

Continuous Integration

Over the past few years, the cost of IT disturbances has massively increased, because companies have adopted to digital transformation and now migrate systems and applications to the cloud. Also, the complexity in the operations has also risen because of the introduction of new technologies across various industries to enhance developmental agility.

The code deployment cases for DevOps teams has reached very high levels. Thus, it has become too difficult to persistently execute the scalable code without any downtime. Thus, to resolve these challenges, development teams now use CI. CI is a software development process, in which coders move the project to a shared repository, to develop software automatically and provide fast feedback on the software quality.

CI is completely different from continuous testing. CI needs to bring together a configuration consistently. This helps automatically build on code commits, run test cases per build, and implement testing environment handling consistently. CI gives quick results on feedback and accountability.

In case the software build fails, CI does not let it progress to later stages. Teams are provided with a report and repair the build quickly. Thus, the software development lifecycle becomes predictable, agile, and reliable. Also, developers can introduce a new feature and fix defects quickly, before it is released to the end-users.

For CI, all the developers working on the project must be completely committed to it. Also, for each change in the software code, the results should be shared with all the team members. In case the main code branch fails, the whole development team should be alerted quickly so that they can act immediately to fix it.

Updated on 02-Dec-2021 05:34:30