Q&A: The State of DevOps and Software Testing in 2017

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The following article is a guest post to Zephyr from LogiGear. LogiGear is a partner of Zephyr, who provides leading-edge software testing technologies and expertise, along with software development services that enable our customers to accelerate business growth while having confidence in the software they deliver.

In this Interview Christine Paras sat down with Michael Hackett for a quick survey on the state of DevOps, how Continuous Testing will fit in, and what trends he foresees for DevOps and Software testing in 2017.

Topics that were covered in this interview include:

  • Collaborate, collaborate and more collaboration
  • Test early, test often.
  • Quality at every step.
  • Group ownership of quality
  • Shift Left.

Q: You recently gave a talk at STPCon-Fall on DevOps, and talked about common pitfalls that you see teams struggle with.  Do you have any advice?

A: Many companies are “saying” they do DevOps, but are slowly implementing it step-by-step.

This seems to be a better trend than with Agile where many organizations made big easy changes and stopped there. There was no culture change and no difficult process changes but called themselves “Agile” leading to a plague of Scrumbutts.  DevOps seems to be going slower- which seems to be good.

Q: What does that mean that developers are now able to update features almost instantly?

A: Primarily, more value, faster. They can add desired features faster and beat competitors to market.   Another DevOps-driven benefit for customers is the Continuous Monitoring practice. This enables teams to be aware of and fix issues much faster than through (often slow) Support escalation. And as everyone knows, fixing bugs beforehand is the ultimate goal of having high customer satisfaction.

Most people think of DevOps as a Dev or Ops driven set of practices, but it is really a business driven process. Dev and Ops and QA become more collaborative, and aligned with development so that from the Continuous Delivery stage to deployment the whole process becomes smoother.   The Business side wants things deployed to customers- and no longer waits for Dev, QA/Test or Ops to ‘get to it’.  

Q: Adopting DevOps isn’t something that happens overnight. It’s a change in cultural shifts and requires a new way of thinking, if there was one thing you wanted to organizations to know before they undertake this shift, what would it be?

A: I have seen DevOps fail when culture issues are not dealt with, or ignored altogether. At many organizations, Dev and Ops/IT do not naturally get along. In some places there are finger pointing games. The DevOps culture needs more focus than merely tool implementation to work well. People have to collaborate and get along more in DevOps.

Also, the business has to buy into issues or bugs getting introduced to the system with such rapid deployments. This is part of DevOps as well.

There may be groups where process and task automation is too immature for their current maturity level. DevOps will quickly point out weak links in the chain that will negate any other teams’ improvement. Often, overwhelmed or immature test teams cannot keep up with the increased burden of test automation.

Q: Putting aside all these blockers, there is still obviously a huge ROI on DevOps. What are the untapped areas for test teams?

A:  Many people know the Ops side benefits for automated deployment.  What they may not be aware of is that there is also a huge benefit to Dev and Test/QA teams who can get clean, easy, perfect environments on demand. Whether VMs or Cloud, with Docker containers or whatever- aside from quicker deployments, perfect Dev and Test environments and data on demand are a big help.

Q: What do you expect to see for DevOps to happen in 2017, and beyond?

A: I think DevOps will have a slow rollout. Hopefully, by now, organizations realize that DevOps is a journey. It will be step-by-step. Practice by practice implementation. It will not be an overnight wholesale change. Many people call DevOps “Agile on Steroids.” That can overwhelm many organizations. It’s a lot. Hopefully, organizations see a future of a calm, deliberate process optimization with DevOps for much more smooth and predictable releases and maintenance. 

Q: What do you consider to be the future of software development?

A: The future I see is full-teamwork with transparent, full collaboration.  Teams that get along well with a focus on consistency and delivering customer value responsive to the business goals will be the ones that win.

I also see better tools for automation of everything- task automation, test automation, deployment automation.  Where Continuous Integration (CI) tools like Jenkins revolutionized and enabled Agile, The new tool onslaught, like Docker, Chef, Puppet and so many more, are revolutionizing Ops. Another common description of DevOps is Agile for Ops. Ops/IT is going to be a much more integrated player in Dev and Test/QA than it has been.

Test teams in DevOps need a wider view than their typical functional testing. Test through API, test through UI, early platform testing, security and performance testing all run earlier. Our automation suites need to be able to be run by other teams, this is a must for DevOps. 

Michael Hackett is a co-founder of LogiGear Corporation, and has over two decades of experience in software engineering in banking, securities, healthcare and consumer electronics. Michael is a Certified Scrum Master and has co-authored two books on software testing. Testing Applications on the Web: Test Planning for Mobile and Internet-Based Systems (Wiley, 2nd ed. 2003), and Global Software Test Automation (Happy About Publishing, 2006).

Christine Paras is acting Marketing Manager at LogiGear Corporation. Christine has over 5 years’ experience in Marketing, and has held prior roles at Movoto Real Estate and Notre Dame de Namur University. Christine graduated summa cum laude from Notre Dame de Namur University, and has a B.S. in Business Administration.