Where DevOps and agile collide: How it impacts QA teams

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In today's development community, there are a number of new terms and strategies being adopted. This includes DevOps and the agile methodology, both of which are becoming more popular among developers. But what, exactly, do these approaches mean for development projects, and how do they stand to impact QA teams in particular?

Today, we'll take a look at how DevOps and the agile methodology are related, as well as how these strategies shift the work being done by certain team members.

DevOps and Agile: Understanding each individually

For many that have not yet put these approaches into place within their development initiatives, DevOps and agile simply represent buzzwords. However, for those that utilize these strategies, DevOps and agile can make all the difference when it comes to overall collaboration and launch cycles. In fact, these practices have more in common that one might think. In order to grasp where and how these concepts intersect, we must first understand what each means individually.

According to Software Testing Help contributor Aniket Deshpande, DevOps refers to the breaking down of silos between the development and operations teams, where members from each group take on new responsibilities that were once unique to the other team. This strategy looks to integrate these teams in the hopes of improved collaboration and coordination, and relies heavily on automation, deployment and testing. It is no secret that devops software testing process is integral to the software development lifecycle.

"DevOps is a philosophy under which the business teams, development teams and the operations organization collaborate on a continuous basis  to make sure that IT solutions are available to business on time and that they run without disruption," Scrum Alliance contributor Ravis Hankar N explained.

The agile methodology also fosters collaboration among project stakeholders, although the motivation and approach here is a bit different. Agile comes as an alternative to waterfall development processes, where each step is completed before the team moves on to the next scrum. Agile, on the other hand, changes the way the project is managed, enabling developers to more quickly and better respond to changing demands or other factors.

"Agile development methodology provides opportunities to assess the direction of a project throughout the development lifecycle," AgileMethodology.org stated. "This is achieved through regular cadences of work, known as sprints or iterations, at the end of which teams must present a potentially shippable product increment. By focusing on the repetition of abbreviated work cycles as well as the functional product they yield, agile methodology is described as 'iterative' and 'incremental.'"

Where DevOps and Agile intersect

In both DevOps and agile, there is an increased focus on collaboration among team members, and the motivation to bring effective, valuable products to market in a more streamlined manner."Collectively, everyone in the chain is responsible for the quality and timeliness of the deliverables," Deshpande noted. "In a nutshell, DevOps is an extension of Agile, or, as I like to call it, 'Agile on Steroids.'" Deshpande explained that there are only subtle differences between DevOps and Agile. Overall, Agile seeks to bring teams closer, which can bring certain challenges for operations teams. However, DevOps picks up the slack here, and, as Deshpande puts it, "proposes to rectify this gap."

How Agile and DevOps impact the QA team

When one treats DevOps as an extension of agile, one can see where, exactly, the QA team might be impacted by these strategies. DevOps, in particular, considerably shifts the way QA teams perform their tasks when compared to previous, traditional development practices?. In a traditional initiative, QA would begin their functional and regression testing after a build is deployed within their environment. This deployment would stay with the QA team for a few days before a supervising team member gives their approval.

When agile and DevOps come into play, processes change hence agile test management strategies help QA teams to be abreast with these changes. Deshpande noted that the QA team now must align their tasks and processes with the DevOps cycle, meaning that all test cases must be automated and result in as close to 100 percent code coverage as possible. In addition, environments must be standardized and QA box deployment must be automated. Pre- and post-testing as well as cleanups must also take place according to the agile Continuous Integration cycle.

Besides aligning their testing tasks and processes with DevOps and agile cycles, QA team members will also see increased input and collaboration from other team members as well.

"DevOps encourages everyone to contribute across the chain," Deshpande wrote. "So, amongst other things, a developer can configure deployments. Deployment engineers can add test cases to the QA repository. QA engineers can configure their automation test cases into the DevOps chain."

Overall, this results in a product that is not only of a higher quality, but can be delivered to market that much faster. While DevOps and agile considerably change the way QA and other teams carry out their traditional processes, these approaches are significantly beneficial for development projects.