Are Continuous Testing able to keep up with the pace of continuous deployment?

In a typical DevOps and Agile framework, continuous deployment is inevitable for the software development process. Banking and financial applications are dynamic and undergo multiple changes frequently, owing to changing customer preferences and growing digitalisation. In the CI/CD pipeline, it is essential to validate the changes in software before automatically deploying them to production.

If testing is reserved for a later phase after the deployment, it might delay the release cycle due to late detection and fixing of errors. Moreover, a few critical errors might go unnoticed, adding to further complexities. Following are the listed consequences that organisations must face for not testing early or at the initial stage:

  • loss of reputation
  • loss of money
  • loss of business prospect

Hence, it is essential to implement continuous testing with continuous deployment to navigate through the challenges. But will continuous testing keep up with the pace of continuous deployment? It largely depends on how the industry adopts continuous testing.

The industry has implemented continuous testing simultaneously with continuous deployment, but has it developed to match the pace of continuous deployment? Let us go in-depth into the subject to find out more.

What does continuous testing look like in the CI/CD pipeline?

In the continuous deployment process, regression, functional, integration, and performance testing are crucial. The goal of continuous deployment is to release new versions whenever developers make changes to ensure that end users can automatically access the applications with the changes.

Continuous testing is essential during continuous deployment as it ensures the quality and reliability of the software being deployed. In a continuous deployment (CD) environment, the goal is to automate and streamline the entire process from code development to deployment, with minimal human intervention. Continuous testing plays a significant role in achieving this goal by continuously validating the application at various stages of development.

Continuous testing in a continuous deployment scenario helps ensure that software is always in a deployable state, reducing the risk of defects, reaching the production environment, and enabling faster release cycles. It also promotes a culture of collaboration and rapid feedback within development teams.

With the industry adopting a CI/CD pipeline to automate the software deployment and delivery process, there was also a greater need to track software validation. Continuous testing ensures continuous validation of new integrations and speeding up the deployment process. The CI/CD pipeline automates the build and fast-tracks the application development and deployment lifecycle. The process would have been incomplete in the absence of continuous testing.

In the continuous deployment phase, the test engineers adopt automation testing and shift-left testing. Automation testing streamlines the testing process and helps ensure faster feedback on code changes, improving overall development speed. On the other hand, shift-left testing detects and fixes defects at an early stage, reducing the cost and effort of fixing the issues later in the development process.

Continuous deployment is highly susceptible to security vulnerabilities. Hence, there is an increasing focus on integrating security practices into the CI/CD pipeline. Enterprises incorporate security practices and tools in the development and deployment workflows to identify and mitigate security risks early in the CI/CD pipeline.

Continuous deployment also requires monitoring to track real-time application performance. It helps identify and address the issues quickly and efficiently. Continuous monitoring improves the application performance, and it is impossible without frequent feedback on the code changes. Hence, organisations implement feedback loops to track and monitor the application’s performance. The feedback loop ensures that the test suite provides fast feedback to the developers. It also helps the team enhance the development and deployment cycles by identifying issues promptly, leading to rapid resolution and reducing the time between code changes and deployment.

CI/CD follows the fast-evolving regulatory requirements and compliance rules. Continuous integration, continuous deployment and frequent software releases must adhere to these standards and regulations. Software development is dynamic due to the rapid evolution of compliance and regulations, which requires continuous integration and continuous deployment. CI/CD is incomplete without continuous testing and continuous monitoring.

Continuous testing of the CI/CD pipeline is inevitable. However, validating the number of code changes can delay the go-to-market process. The organisations have gone to the root of this challenge and adopted test automation suites to speed up the process. Manual and automated testing are essential to executing application validation. However, it is also critical to differentiate between manual and automation test sets.

Unit testing, integration testing, and functional testing can be automated. Automated unit tests can validate the functionality of individual components or modules in isolation. Automated integration testing can verify the interactions and interfaces between components and services. Automated functional testing can simulate user interactions and validate the application functionalities.

However, the following conditions are necessary to initiate continuous testing.

The representative test data must be available to validate the application under various scenarios and the integrated automated tests into the CI systems must be automatically triggered to test execution whenever there are any changes in the codes.

Benefits of Continuous Testing in CI/CD Pipeline

  • Reduces overall test execution time by conducting the tests parallelly. It is crucial for maintaining a fast and efficient continuous deployment pipeline.
  • Ensures consistency across test environments. It also confirms compatibility and a consistent user experience on different browsers and platforms.
  • Identifies and addresses security vulnerabilities in the development process.
  • Assesses the system’s scalability, responsiveness, and stability under various load conditions.
  • Tracks the performance of the application during testing, helping to identify potential issues and bottlenecks.
  • Aligns with the evolving application features and requirements.

Challenges/conditions that can disrupt the CI / CD pipeline without continuous testing

Frequent code changes can delay the deployment lifecycle. CI/CD pipeline involves the implementation of code changes very frequently in the application development and deployment phases. Continuous testing supports these changes and implementations. But what can go wrong if the changes are not continuously validated? If the changes are not validated or the testing process is put on hold for a later period in the deployment stage,

  • firstly, applications will face functionality errors and performance issues
  • secondly, there will be a delay in the deployment cycle
  • thirdly, the cost of fixing will rise
  • finally, it will harm the brand reputation

Manual testing does not work with dynamic CI/CD pipelines. Digital transformation is fast-paced, with frequent and quick changes. Manual testing for repetitive changes can be monotonous, leading to many issues, like testing the same features repeatedly, which can get uninteresting and tedious.

With manual testing, it is impossible to ascertain that there will be no errors, and the codes with errors will not be implemented in the CI/CD pipeline without validation. It will lead to application functionality and performance issues. Hence, validating the regression flow manually in the CI/CD pipeline is not a viable solution. Automation testing is a more practical approach to executing continuous regression testing for CI/CD. It is logical, affordable, and time-saving for enterprises.

The requirements for continuous testing differ with the changes in project requirements, which also require the right set of testing tools. The absence of the right set of tools can disrupt the smooth flow of application validation. Enterprises need the right set of tools to execute continuous testing. Since continuous testing is an integral part of the DevOps approach, every code change that passes through continuous deployment is validated to ensure that the developed software retains its high quality, is reliable, and meets the specified requirements.

Are Continuous Testing able to keep up with the pace of continuous deployment?

Till now we have given you a fair idea of how important continuous testing is in the CI/CD pipeline. Continuous testing ensures that code changes are thoroughly tested throughout the development process. The goal is to provide rapid feedback to developers, detect issues early, and maintain the quality of software releases. But is continuous testing able to keep up with the pace of continuous deployment?

Let us look at several factors to evaluate the pace of continuous testing with continuous deployment:

Automation is an inseparable part of continuous testing to ensure that continuous integration and deployment are executed without any delay or disruption. For continuous testing to keep up the pace with continuous deployment, automation is an essential key. If the test suite is well-automated, it can keep up with the rapid pace of code changes.

Parallel test execution is essential for continuous testing to keep up the pace of the CI/CD pipeline. Often the larger test suites are divided into smaller, independent units and executed parallelly to reduce the testing time and improve the turnaround time in the CI/CD pipeline.

To keep up with the speed of continuous deployment, continuous testing must have a ready-to-use test suite design with critical functionalities and high-risk areas. This will facilitate faster test execution and identification of issues.

Continuous testing can certainly keep up with the pace of continuous deployment if the team takes testing activities early in the development process to detect the errors and resolve them. Developers can run unit tests, integration tests, and other checks locally before code is even committed to the version control system.

Continuous testing and monitoring can help identify errors quickly, reduce the testing time, and improve the overall application quality. Implementing continuous testing early in the development phase can help developers keep a close eye on the DevOps cycle. It is also essential to adopt a shift-left testing method to move testing earlier in the development process. The approach helps in catching the issues early and reducing the cost of defect fixing.

Even though enterprises have seen visible results from incorporating continuous testing early in the deployment and development phases, the number is significantly lower. As per the Reports and Data Sources and an article published on DevOps.com in 2023, 21% of QA professionals have implemented continuous testing in the CI/CD pipeline to speed up their code releases. There can be various factors, like standard practice, apprehension regarding the change in process, unawareness, and more, at play for such a low number.

For Continuous Testing to keep up with the pace of Continuous Deployment, it must be well-automated, designed for efficiency and seamless integration into the CI/CD pipeline. It is also essential to have the combination of effective tools, procedures, and team coordination to manage the speed while ensuring the quality of the software development lifecycle.

Is it essential that continuous testing must keep up the pace of continuous development?

Implementing continuous testing with the CI/CD pipeline is crucial for various reasons. Continuous testing ensures that the developed software maintains high quality and reliability. Continuous testing may not match the pace and frequency of CI/CD, but it is highly beneficial for the following reasons:

Continuous testing provides quick feedback to developers about code quality. Continuous testing identifies the issues quickly and reduces the overall development time. Identifying errors early in the development process is cost-effective compared to addressing them later. It also prevents serious issues from becoming more critical. The team can highlight the errors as soon as they are detected.

Automation testing is effective and efficiently carries out continuous testing. Automated tests can run frequently, ensuring prompt validation of code changes. The effectiveness of automation testing helps in keeping up the speed of the CI/CD pipeline.

Continuous testing ensures the consistency of repeated testing, reducing the possibility of human errors. Repeated testing of continuous integration and continuous deployment can be monotonous. Automation testing of repeated tasks enables consistency, ensuring reliable outcomes with every run.

Continuous testing helps identify issues early in the development stage. By detecting the defects earlier, the project development team can arrive at calculated decisions and mitigate the risks of deploying the error codes early into the production stage. The team can decide whether to move next to the deployment phase or address the issues first. It saves time by not shuffling back and forth between different stages.

Continuous deployment requires adding new code to the existing codebase. Continuous testing helps to keep up the pace of new code integration and deployment with continuous testing. CI/CD being a dynamic development environment, there will be multiple contributions made by the developers to the codebase.

Continuous testing is essential to ensure a smooth and consistent release cycle. Automating continuous testing can further accelerate the process, allowing the team to deploy the finished code to production while hiding the unfinished features until they are ready.

Continuous deployment requires a constant feedback loop with prompt and actionable insights from tests. Continuous feedback loops implemented with continuous testing can improve communication and the testing process.

Frequent integration can challenge the application’s security. Continuous testing with the right mix of security testing tools helps in identifying and addressing security vulnerabilities early in the development process.

A robust continuous testing environment consists of test cases, infrastructure, and configurations. The process documentation aligns with the values of continuous deployment, helping your team deliver high-quality software at a rapid pace.

Continuous testing helps in delivering high-quality software while keeping up the pace of continuous deployment. It enables the team to test at earlier stages of the release pipeline, test more often before release, and test across environments and devices.

Industries must cater to customers’ changing requirements. Hence, continuous change, integration, and deployment are inevitable. Continuous testing is essential, and an indomitable solution for enterprises that can ensure customer satisfaction is to deliver high-quality software with a quick turnaround time and bring down production costs to a minimum.

Banking and financial applications are undergoing massive shifts due to their ongoing digital transformation journey. These applications have multiple releases in close succession with improvised features based on user requirements. In the CI / CD pipeline, organizations must adopt strategies and a well-structured and planned environment for continuous testing.

Continuous testing designed by Yethi Consulting is modelled upon an agile test automation framework. Our robotic codeless testing automation solution is designed and built for banking and financial institutions. Its plug-and-play adaptors offer seamless integration with mission-critical applications and visible results from day zero. It is prompt to learn and adapt to the application and its updates with limited customisation as Tenjin is a banking-specific and intelligent test automation solution. Regardless of the complexity and number of updates, Tenjin facilitates continuous testing, minimises manual effort and speeds up the test execution.

We also have a ready-to-use and ready-to-integrate test repository of more than 1.2 million test cases created with high code quality, which can be reused for test execution to help you save time, money and effort and ensure high business ROI.

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