Where Has All the Testing Gone?

Testing has long been a problem child of IT in general, AppDev in particular, and now it is DevOps’ problem. There are things that DevOps can do to improve the chances of tests actually occurring for your application(s). Interestingly, there are some that think we no longer need testing; the argument is that because new releases can be cranked out so quickly if something needs to be fixed that it is irrelevant. Combining feature flags with the ability to roll out a new version and, well, there may be some truth to that—at least for a limited subset of testing.

If an organization implemented feature flags for user acceptance and new feature testing and then standardized on test-driven development for DevOps development teams, that would leave systems and security testing. Systems testing could, theoretically, be replaced by the ability to roll out a new version. Although systemic issues can be complex and difficult to fix, this is a riskier proposition than extending test-driven development to the systems level. For the sprint, assign a person responsible for the overall integrated system and have the rest of the team support them through the process of making certain all works as expected.

Testing—particularly systems testing—slows releases. I get that. The rate at which most of us can iterate once DevOps systems and processes are in place is fast enough that you can afford a bit of slowdown. This leaves security testing as the last standalone bit. But some security validation can happen during the development process if DevSecOps tools are being utilized. That still leaves some security issues to test for but does remove a large chunk.

The key to these last bits is to get them integrated into the process/toolchain. DevOps runs straight through, over and over. Any bit worked into the “runs straight through” will be executed. If today’s iteration falls for the “We ran over, we’ll make the deadline with less testing” mentality; not an issue—it’s one iteration. Just don’t let that become the default answer to someone not an iteration’s work on time. Development can have unexpected speed bumps that delay delivery and acknowledging that and documenting what it was for future reference is important. Covering it up by reducing testing time risks a less stable product and does not help overcome the issue in the future.

So start thinking in terms of DevOpsTest. Make sure the product you are delivering represents the massive time investments you’ve made producing and maintaining it. You’re rocking it—and something like integrated testing ensures that users see how great you are rocking it and not an error page.

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