DevOps Testing Trends for This Year

As software becomes more complex year on year, the importance of testing rises, too.

Rob Cowell, DevOps Advocate

January 16, 2024

4 Min Read
DevOps model. Solution for increasing organization's ability to deliver applications and services at high velocity.
Paradee Kietsirikul via Alamy Stock

Each year, there’s one trend we can guarantee for software engineers -- things are set to become even more complex. Every business will set new and ambitious IT requirements, while DevOps teams may have to grapple with changes to tooling and process.

And as your work becomes more complex, it’s easier to make mistakes. You may still be struggling to close the regression testing gap or finding that new tooling is creating unexpected errors. So as software becomes more complex year on year, the importance of testing rises too. Here’s what I think will be the biggest testing trends of 2024 that will help your team feel confident in tackling complexity in the coming year.

Digital Transformation

Digital transformation, though somewhat of a buzzword, does accurately describe the state of play for most DevOps teams -- there’s pressure from the wider business to overhaul legacy systems and implement the next new thing. The vast scope and requirements of digital transformation projects, together with the high-quality standards that are often expected, go a long way to increasing the complexity of the demands on DevOps teams.

Businesses often have little tolerance for risk, stalls, and misfires during digital transformation projects. We may see more teams pushing for budget and resources for their testing processes in 2024, as businesses begin to understand that comprehensive testing is critical for the success of digital transformation projects.

Related:Why 2024 May Be the Breakthrough Year for Platform Engineering

Breaking Down Silos

DevOps is founded on collaboration between development and operations teams, but it’s time to start championing collaboration with testing teams too. A siloed testing team means you’re not bringing in a variety of team roles, experiences, and focuses into your testing process. By breaking down this silo and bringing a range of people into the testing process, you’ll achieve more comprehensive testing.

Integrating your testing teams can further support the traditional DevOps collaboration between development and operations teams. For example, allowing teams to test in a range of environments, including production, encourages feedback between environments, creating a stronger dialogue between development and operations who may traditionally be concerned only with the testing of “their” environments.

Continuous Testing

While speed of deployment is one of the greatest strengths of DevOps and Agile, traditional testing may not be sufficient. Only testing at infrequent intervals and at a specific stage of the development lifecycle means you could get critical feedback on your development work long after it was completed. As a result, you’ve sunk time into work that you now need to go back and remediate. This adds another layer of complexity to the development lifecycle, as you’ll have to context switch to debug past development work.

Related:JPMorgan Chase’s Sandhya Sridharan Talks Empowering Engineers

Continuous testing encourages testing at each stage of the software development lifecycle, allowing you to pick up on problems as soon as they arise and before they’re deployed to the next environment. While adding an additional check at the deployment stage may seem counterintuitive to the continuous deployment practices of DevOps teams, it makes for faster releases on the whole as you can be confident that quality has been continuously checked. Continuous testing also reinforces constant communication, as you’ll quickly get critical feedback that you can feed into your current development work.

Exploratory Testing

The rising complexity of software development encourages us to create more structure throughout the development lifecycle, in an attempt to maintain visibility and accuracy. While some aspects of testing are rightfully structured -- such as defined test cases based on user stories, and test data defined on those test cases themselves -- you need to give yourself the space and resources for random, “exploratory” testing too.

Related:Understand and Manage Software Release Cycles

Exploratory testing has no structure and testers should treat the test environment as a playground, testing intuitively rather than according to a planned script. This allows you to uncover defects or bugs which wouldn’t have been picked up by your structured testing process. As exploratory testing relies on an individual tester’s intuition and creativity, the wider the range of roles and experiences that are reflected in this testing process, the better. DevOps’ constant emphasis on breaking down silos and encouraging cross-team collaboration can be a great asset for teams looking to employ exploratory testing.

Artificial Intelligence and Machine learning

Though the rise of exploratory testing highlights the need for free will of human testing, artificial intelligence and machine learning may become useful in reducing some workloads, such as the automation of repeatable tests. This way, you can design test cases and be assured that the automation is simply applying that logic to easily repeatable tasks. If you can get simpler, repeatable tests handled for you, you have more time to focus on the complex.

Tackle Complexity

As always, DevOps teams and their businesses will be ambitious for the new year. While testing improvements may not seem like a top priority for the new projects you’re planning, it may be the key to better results. As comprehensive testing improves the accuracy of deployments, reinforces communication, and mitigates risk, it will allow you to tackle complex business and user needs without being stalled by software development and process blockers.

About the Author(s)

Rob Cowell

DevOps Advocate , Gearset

Rob Cowell has almost two decades of experience in Salesforce Development, Technical Solution Design, and Heroku. Now working as a DevOps Advocate at Gearset, he follows the latest DevOps trends to help organizations transform their development lifecycles.

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