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Devops Testing: The Role Of Testing in Devops And Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery (CI/CD)

Published On: June 8, 2023

Continuous DevOps testing is the technique of conducting frequent unit, integration, and regression tests automatically across the software development life cycle (SDLC), with the goal of locating and fixing faults at the earliest feasible stage in the process. It is distinct from standard testing in that it is not a one-time event but rather an ongoing procedure that is suitably automated to allow for implementation on demand. 

In addition, regular testing is carried out only once.In this article, we will discuss the significance of continuous testing in DevOps, the role of CI/CD testing, as well as how this practice assists teams in ensuring the high quality and dependability of the software they produce.

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What is DevOps Testing?

During the course of the development process, quality assurance testing is typically carried out at the conclusion of each iteration or release as part of the traditional approach to software testing. This method of testing is known as the “testing approach.” Testing tools, either manually operated or automatically operated, could be included.

Testing is done in an ongoing fashion all the way through the development process in an approach known as “continuous testing.” It indicates that testing is carried out as code is being produced and changes are being made, enabling quicker feedback on the quality of the code. 

This strategy incorporates a wider variety of testing methods, such as unit testing, functional testing, performance testing, security testing, and integration testing, to guarantee that every facet of the product is subjected to exhaustive testing.

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The pace at which the testing is performed, the frequency with which it is performed, and the amount of manual labor that is required are the primary distinctions between traditional and continuous software testing. Continuous testing raises the overall quality of the product by locating and resolving bugs shortly after code is generated by developers. This is because it is during this time that the context is most readily available in the writers’ brains.

By integrating automation into the various stages of application development, continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) is a methodology for rapidly delivering programs to users. Continuous integration, continuous delivery, and continuous deployment are the core ideas that are associated with continuous integration and continuous delivery. 

The term “integration hell” refers to the challenges that can be faced by development and operations teams when integrating new code. CI/CD offers a solution to these challenges.

In particular, CI/CD testing implements ongoing automation as well as continuous monitoring throughout the whole lifespan of applications, beginning with the phase of integration and continuing on through the stages of testing, delivery, and deployment. 

Together, these related practices are commonly referred to as a “CI/CD pipeline,” and they are backed by development and operations teams collaborating in an agile manner with either a DevOps or site reliability engineering (SRE) strategy.

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The Role of CI/CD in DevOps Testing

Continuous Integration

Having numerous developers working simultaneously on different parts of the same program is the ideal situation in contemporary application development. On the other hand, if an organization is structured in such a way that all of the branching source code is merged together on one day (a practice known as “merge day”), the work that results can be laborious, manual, and time-consuming. 

This is due to the fact that whenever a change is made to an application by a developer who is working on it alone, there is a possibility that it will conflict with other modifications that are being made to the application at the same time by other developers. 

If rather than settling on a single cloud-based integrated development environment (IDE), each developer uses a locally-hosted version of their own customized integrated development environment (IDE), this issue can become even more complicated.

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Continuous integration (CI) is a tool that allows programmers to merge their code changes back to a shared branch, often known as “trunk,” more frequently—sometimes even daily. 

After the modifications made by a developer to an application have been merged, those modifications are validated by automatically building the application and running various levels of automated testing in DevOps, most commonly unit tests and integration tests, to ensure that the modifications have not rendered the application inoperable. 

This entails testing everything, from classes and functions to the various modules that make up the whole application. If automated testing finds a conflict between newly added code and previously written code, continuous integration makes it simpler to fix the bugs as quickly and frequently as possible.

Continuous Delivery

Continuous integration (CI) initially automates the process of building software and doing both unit testing and integration testing. Next, continuous delivery automates the process of releasing code that has been validated to a repository. Therefore, it is essential that continuous integration (CI) is already incorporated into your development pipeline in order to have an efficient continuous delivery process. 

The purpose of implementing continuous delivery is to ensure that a codebase is maintained in such a way that it is always prepared for transfer to a production setting.

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Test automation and code release automation are both required at every level of continuous delivery, beginning with the merging of code changes and continuing through the delivery of production-ready builds. At the conclusion of the procedure, the operations team will be able to deploy an application to production in a brisk and straightforward manner.

Continuous Deployment

Continuous deployment is the final stage of a mature continuous integration and continuous delivery pipeline. Continuous deployment is an extension of continuous delivery that automates the process of deploying an application to production. 

Continuous delivery automates the process of delivering a production-ready build to a code repository. Continuous deployment places a significant emphasis on having well-designed test automation in place. This is due to the absence of a manual gate in the stage of the pipeline that comes before production.

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 In actuality, continuous deployment signifies that a change made by a developer to a cloud service could go online within minutes of the change being written (provided that it passes automated testing). Because of this, it is significantly simpler to regularly collect feedback from users and implement that feedback. 

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When taken as a whole, all of these interconnected CI/CD practices reduce the risk associated with the deployment of an application. As a result, it becomes simpler to roll out modifications to applications in stages rather than all at once. However, there is a significant investment required up front due to the fact that automated tests will need to be written in order to accommodate a number of different testing and release stages in the CI/CD pipeline.

What Are Some Prevalent Tools Used In CI And CD?

The phases of development, deployment, and testing can all be automated with the assistance of CI/CD systems. Some tools are designed to particularly manage the integration (CI) side, while others are designed to manage development and deployment (CD), and still, others are experts in continuous testing or functions similar to those described above.

Jenkins, an automation server, is one of the most well-known open-source solutions for continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD). Jenkins was built to handle anything, from a basic continuous integration server to a comprehensive continuous delivery center.

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Installing and configuring Jenkins on Red Hat. OpenShift Tekton Pipelines is a continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) framework for Kubernetes platforms. It offers a cloud-native, standard CI/CD experience while working with containers.

Other open-source continuous integration and continuous delivery tools besides Jenkins and Tekton Pipelines that you might want to investigate include the following:

  • Spinnaker is a continuous delivery (CD) platform designed for use in multi-cloud scenarios.
  • GoCD is a continuous integration and continuous delivery server that places an emphasis on modeling and visualization.
  • The Concourse project describes itself as “an open-source continuous thing-doer.”
  • Screwdriver is a construction platform that was developed for CD.

Teams might also want to think about using managed CI/CD tools, which are offered by a range of vendors and can be found online. GitLab, CircleCI, Travis CI, Atlassian Bamboo, and a great many other companies all offer CI/CD solutions, as do the major public cloud providers who provide their services.

In addition, it is quite likely that a CI/CD process will incorporate any tool that is considered to be fundamental to the DevOps methodology. Although they are not considered to be traditional CI/CD tools, tools for automation of configuration (such as Ansible, Chef, and Puppet), runtimes for containers (such as Docker, rkt, and cri-o), and orchestration of containers (Kubernetes) are likely to be utilized in the majority of CI/CD workflows.

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Moving From Continuous Integration To Continuous Deployment

In the early stages of a project, when there are no end users, it may be compelling to push every change to production. Even if you have no paying customers at first, you may get the ball rolling by automating your deployments and pushing out an alpha version to the world. 

After that, you’ll be able to strengthen your testing culture and make certain that you improve the amount of code that is covered while you’re developing your application. 

You will have developed an excellent continuous deployment process by the time you are prepared to enroll users. This process will ensure that all newly made modifications are thoroughly examined and validated before being immediately implemented in production.

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If, on the other hand, you already have an application that is being used by clients, you should proceed with caution and begin by implementing continuous integration and continuous delivery. It is not necessary to concentrate on running complicated end-to-end tests just now; rather, you should get started by setting up fundamental unit tests that are executed automatically. 

You ought to alternatively make an effort to automate the deployment process as quickly as feasible and progress to a point wherein deployment to your test environments are carried out continuously. The rationale for this is because if you have automatic deployments, you won’t have to occasionally pause what you’re doing in order to organize a release; instead, you can direct your efforts towards enhancing the quality of your tests.

When you are ready, you can investigate continuous deployment after you are able to begin releasing software on a daily basis. However, you should check that the rest of your organization, including documentation, support, marketing, and so on, is prepared as well. 

These functions will need to modify themselves in order to accommodate the new release cycle, and it is essential that they do not overlook critical changes that may have an effect on customers.

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Why Do We Need To Conduct CI/CD Testing In Devops

Testing in an ongoing manner offers a number of distinct advantages. The following is a list of some of the benefits that can be gained via CI/CD testing: 

Reducing the length of the feedback loop while simultaneously amplifying its impact can be accomplished by integrating automated unit, functional, and regression test cases into the build pipeline. In this configuration, feedback on each stage of the process is practically immediately available.

The team as a whole receives immediate and insightful information regarding the product’s stability, quality, and consistency based on the feedback received from the various test tasks. 

From the very beginning to the very end, quality is never sacrificed, and continuous testing of the software is performed while it is being developed.

Automated continuous integration and deployment with the highest possible test coverage Testing, both as a method and as a practice, is implemented right from the beginning of the development process.  

Improves the morale of the team while also instilling trust in the quality of the entire product in the eyes of stakeholders prior to delivery and deployment of the product.

How Exactly Does One Conduct Continuous DevOps Testing?

Continuous testing and automated testing in DevOp are frequently used interchangeably. Yet, they are not the same at all. 

According to Wikipedia’s definition, Continuous Testing is “the method of conducting automated tests within the framework of the software delivery pipeline in order to gather immediate insight on the business risks linked to a software release candidate.” However, a significant number of people disagree with this definition. 

The terms cannot be employed interchangeably because continuous DevOps testing is not just about test automation. Continuous testing in DevOps is an all-encompassing endeavor that involves teams, tools, and workflows in addition to automation. This endeavor is a collaborative one.

It is an extension of test automation, and its goal is to give validation and feedback at every step of the software delivery pipeline, starting immediately from the design phase and going all the way through production.

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Best Methods and Procedures Recommended for Automated Testing in Devops

You will be able to benefit to the fullest extent possible from continuous testing if you follow these best practices:

  • Utilize a testing method known as “shift-left” by beginning testing at the earliest possible stage of the development process. This strategy helps detect and fix errors at an earlier stage, minimizing the overall testing demands and preventing expensive rework once the application has been fully integrated and launched to production. 
  • The “left” in this context refers to the initial phase of the process, which includes software architecture and coding, and which appears on the left side of a traditional left-to-right software development life cycle diagram.
  • Determine the level of test coverage to make certain that all essential aspects are being evaluated. Measurement tools that are appropriate can be used to determine the level of testing that has been completed and to locate areas that require additional testing.
  • Test-driven development, sometimes known as TDD, is a method of software development in which automated tests are written before the actual creation of the code. This helps to verify that the code is written to pass the tests and fulfills the product requirements.
  • Make use of a platform that offers preview as a service in order to provide development teams with rapid, iterative testing and feedback.

Final Thoughts on Automated Testing in DevOps

Continuous testing is an essential procedure in the DevOps methodology that assists teams in ensuring the high-quality and dependability of software. By running tests often and automatically throughout the development life cycle, teams may quickly detect and fix errors, thereby improving the quickness and effectiveness of the development process and delivering software of excellent quality to end users.

Continuous testing is not the same as normal testing, which is often a one-time event that takes place at regular intervals during the development process. Continuous testing takes place in an ongoing manner. 

It is essential to take into consideration many tools and procedures, such as test automation, continuous integration and delivery, tools for collaboration and communication, testing environments, and so on, in order to implement continuous testing inside the DevOps framework.

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