DevOps has become one of the hottest topics in technology circles and one that you can’t get away from, but what does it mean for Testers and the role we play in DevOps?

So what is DevOps?

As testing professionals, we have witnessed how DevOps has become established within our industry and, as a business, we have looked further into DevOps to learn what it means for us and for our clients. By getting involved in the latest developments in this area, we have found ourselves caught up in the amount of information and discussion topics, some of which is undoubtedly confusing and even contradictory. Even trying to get a standard definition of what is meant by DevOps can be difficult as it means different things to different people. That said however, this may not be a problem as at the heart of DevOps is a focus on people and culture rather than a standardised one size fits all approach.

Gartner defines DevOps as “A change in IT culture, focusing on rapid IT service delivery through the adoption of agile and lean practices in the context of a system-oriented approach. DevOps has an emphasis on people and culture, and seeks to improve collaboration between operations and development teams. DevOps implementations utilise technology — especially automation tools that can leverage an increasingly programmable and dynamic infrastructure from a life cycle perspective."

One area where there does seem to be consensus on this controversial topic, is the view that DevOps is the next generation of Agile and that previous Agile implementations stopped at deployment/implementation which remained on a Waterfall methodology. This slowed down delivery and left some aspects of testing until far too late in the process. It was as a result of people seeing this disconnect between Development and Deployment and looking at how to extend Agile practices to all aspects of Software delivery that many say was the start of DevOps.  

Many commentators also agree that DevOps needs a collaborative culture that includes all the disciplines and practices combined together in a continuous software development methodology with a significant emphasis on collaboration, automation, feedback loops and continuous improvement.

What does this mean for testers?

As Testers or Quality Assurance professionals (we have been called many things and some not as nice!) DevOps is increasingly challenging what our role is within this culture and some commentators go as far as saying Testers and Quality Assurance are not part of the DevOps process! As a tester, would you agree with this statement?

On DevOps.com; a very useful source of information, articles and opinions on all things DevOps, you can find articles such as “How DevOps is killing QA” and articles at the opposite end of the debate on how testing and testers are pivotal to the success of DevOps and the delivery of software in not just a more timely fashion but, of better quality as well “DevOps – It’s all about continuous testing!” So a somewhat confusing and often conflicting landscape of opinions on the role of Testers and quality in the world of DevOps.

Where to find help if you’re a Tester trying to understand DevOps?

In order to get up to speed with the current developments in DevOps, we looked around for an event that would provide us with a source of information from some of the best DevOps practitioners out there; who have been there and done it!

To this end, 2i came across Computing’s DevOps Summit 2016 and decided to show our support to the practise of DevOps by becoming sponsors. Tristan Brown (2i’s Head of Test) and I will also be attending the event on the 5th July in London and by doing so, we will have the opportunity to discuss our experiences with others who are at various stages of DevOps maturity. We also felt that as seasoned Software Testers, we would be able to contribute to the event from a testers view point and hopefully gain clarity on where we fit within this evolving culture.

Our objectives are to:

  • Learn from other peoples’ mistakes – what didn’t work so well for them!
  • Gain knowledge from what did work well for other organisations.
  • Compare our own experiences in moving to DevOps to those at the conference.
  • Discover what DevOps means for us as Testers, where we fit in and what the keys to success are from a testing perspective?
  • What does DevOps mean for our colleagues in Non-Testing disciplines – what is the right structure for a DevOps team?
  • What are the key success factors for an organisation in adopting DevOps?

What we will gain from attending the conference?

Armed with the knowledge gained from the conference, we will be able to continue helping our clients transform to DevOps but we want to make sure that we are always at the forefront of technologies and methodologies within DevOps’. We want to be informing people that we can help them today and ensuring that we can help them tomorrow and will always keep them on the right path. We will also be in a much better position to understand how testing needs to adapt in this shift to DevOps, what our role is and how we as testers can ensure that software is not just delivered earlier but is of better quality.

It will also help answer some of the key questions we have as testers in a DevOps world:

  • What do we as Testers need to do to ensure we evolve so that we can make the best contribution to DevOps as possible - adapt and learn, ensure we avoid becoming extinct as some are predicting?

  • Are the tools used in DevOps vastly different from what we already use as testers or has our adoption and continued path along Agile maturity already given us the tools and automation approaches we need to move to a DevOps framework?

  • How do we as testers help our clients understand the complexities of DevOps and how it can be adapted so they gain the maximum benefits and met their organisations objectives?

 
With our objectives in mind, we are really looking forward to gaining further insight into the world of DevOps from experts in this field. We understand that each organisation faces individual challenges like embracing the Digital Age through Continuous Delivery and the introduction of DevOps so we want to be able to support our clients in this area when it comes to Software Testing. By sponsoring the DevOps Summit and attending as delegates, we have given ourselves the opportunity to learn from expert DevOps practitioners and hope to demonstrate that we as a Software Testing company are striving to consistently improve and develop in the areas which are very much becoming the future of testing.

Following the event in July, we hope to bring back answers to the questions we went with. Stay tuned for our update post summit, where we will to discuss our opinion on where Testing really fits into DevOps.

 

References:

Gartner – IT Glossary – Definition of DevOps

Information about DevOps – www.DevOps.com

DevOps.com articles on “How DevOps is killing QA” and “DevOps – It’s all about continuous testing!

Sticky Minds article “Testers: An Integral Part of the DevOps Team” that extends the agile “test early, test often” approach to DevOps.

 

Ian Bell
Client Delivery Director

Ian founded 2i in 2005 and is responsible for the strategic direction and delivery of the overall business objectives. A key part of the 2i management team, Ian oversees 2i's delivery services and ensures that the highest standard of software testing and test consultancy services is always met.