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Current fast-paced business conditions have made it crucial for companies to adopt techniques like DevOps that promote better collaboration and continuous delivery.
With the increasing need to release quality software in a short amount of time while maintaining security, more organizations are integrating continuous testing as a part of their DevOps culture.
Continuous testing in DevOps eliminates the silos between the development, operations, and testing teams. It runs parallel performance tests to boost software testing execution speed thereby reducing time to market.
Further, it incorporates security tests as a core element to ensure that security isn’t compromised due to rapid development processes.
What is Continuous Testing?
Continuous testing is a software testing technique that aims for testing early and often throughout the software development life cycle (SDLC) using automated tools and processes. It promotes better collaboration across different teams and helps them understand ways to ensure the quality and reliability of every software release.
Various tests including integration, regression, performance, system, user acceptance, functionality, security, and others are executed automatically in continuous testing. These automated tests help teams receive instant feedback to quickly identify and mitigate potential vulnerabilities or risks throughout the SDLC.
The Importance of Continuous Testing
With the marketplace getting more competitive, businesses need to ensure they are providing a seamless user experience while maintaining security to their consumers with every software and product release.
A crucial element of the SDLC to provide better user experience along with more secure applications is continuous testing (CT).
How is continuous testing related to DevOps?
CT fits in perfectly with the two core concepts of DevOps – continuous development and a source of uninterrupted feedback. It has the ability to be seamlessly integrated into the process of accelerated development in DevOps.
Since DevOps consists of collaboration between the development, operations, and QA teams, continuous testing enables teams to work cohesively. With continuous development and testing of software, and frequent feedback with quick bug fixes, companies can easily align their development processes with the demands of their businesses.
Organizations can notably improve the speed of software delivery since the changes made in the software can be set up rapidly in production.
How does continuous testing ensure better security in DevOps?
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Continuous testing ensures continuity throughout the SDLC by enabling different teams involved in the SDLC to contribute across the entire process as and when required. It also shifts security to the left by performing security tests early in the SDLC process to reveal potential vulnerabilities and security weaknesses in the application as the development progresses.
Hence, every member becomes responsible for maintaining security and there is continuity in development.
Further, continuous testing aims at repetitive and automated security testing of software, from the initial stage of development to the final stage of release. Additionally, tools such as Selenium and others help achieve comprehensive coverage.
Security testing is an integral part of continuous testing, given the growing need for efficient code-related risk management. It helps ensure better security of the application by early detection of potential vulnerabilities.
Continuous testing also establishes a support system that ensures the safety of the application from unexpected attacks and changes, which can be encountered post-deployment as well. In accelerated development processes, such as in DevOps, continuous testing ensures that the system is stable and recoverable in the case of software failures as well.
How is Continuous Testing Different from Automated Testing?
While continuous testing consists of automated tests, it isn’t the same as automated testing. Continuous testing and automated testing are two different concepts with different goals.
Automated testing is a process during which you use specified automated tools or software to automate a set of tasks. The primary goal of automated testing is to perform repetitive, identical tasks that a machine can perform faster with fewer mistakes.
Continuous testing is a software testing method that focuses on achieving continuous quality while identifying potential vulnerabilities and addressing them. To achieve its goal of improved and continuous quality, it can employ any number of tools and/or practices.
Continuous testing goes beyond test automation and entails a variety of practices including cultural changes and tooling that help detect and mitigate risks early in the SDLC. However, automated testing uses software to control the execution of tests to achieve velocity and volume across a variety of different tasks.
Both have their own benefits and challenges. Ultimately, it depends on the purpose of your testing and requirements.
How to Perform Continuous Testing in DevOps
Continuous testing should be integrated into your continuous integration and continuous delivery pipeline. Set up test suites at every point where code is modified, merged, or released.
That way, instead of running test suites all at once, you can run them at specific points. It will help reduce your effort and time but still maintain quality standards.
Here are some steps that you can use to perform continuous testing in DevOps:
- Define tests early: Create clear and concise test data requirements to avoid delays. Use behavior-driven development (BDD), model-based testing, and acceptance test-driven development (ATDD) so that all requirements are properly documented. Test cases and test scripts need to be clearly defined ahead of time to enable continuous testing from the beginning stage of the code production.
- Optimize testing processes: Only test code that has been recently modified, merged, or updated. Use visual models that enable various paths to be identified and optimized so that test suites are run only on selected code areas while providing maximum coverage.
- Shift-lift security testing: Ensure that tests are run earlier in the SDLC to identify and mitigate potential vulnerabilities and risks. Developers should test cases as they go, with test automation including performance testing, functional testing, security testing, and monitoring.
- Provide test environments: To achieve efficient continuous testing, provide virtualized test environments. Reduce wait times and eliminate blocks by providing complete test environments with developer-friendly tools that do not require in-depth knowledge about testing or security. These test environments should contain test data on demand enabling teams to perform comprehensive tests as and when required.
- Adopt test automation: Leverage test automation as it increases the speed and promotes faster delivery to the production environment. Automate as much as possible throughout the SDLC to minimize human effort, time, and mistakes.
- Integrate performance testing into the delivery pipeline: While other testing types such as integration, system, functionality, user experience are critical, ensure that you integrate performance testing as well as it is a key part of continuous testing. Performance testing helps you analyze the speed, stability, and responsiveness of your application.
Traditional testing techniques are often considered bottlenecks to the software development life cycle. Continuous testing in DevOps offers a competitive advantage to companies, enabling them to deliver better quality products to their customers in a shorter period of time while maintaining security standards. Ensure that you have a strategic test plan in place before you integrate continuous testing in your SDLC.
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