Devs are from Mars, Testers are from Venus. Software experts debate the fate of this love story.
As two business units, software development and IT operations, are combined to develop a software development practice, the systems development life cycle is reduced. The result is improved software quality via giving continuous delivery of code, reduction in defects and boosted the velocity of releases.
However, just as technology has limited human intervention, any technological advancement raises the question of its impact on manual jobs. Quality Assurance (QA) professionals are scared of becoming alienated. Will the traditional means of testing for quality assurance become outdated with the rise of DevOps and to what extent? Are the fears of testers genuine or unrealistic?
In DevOps, innovative practices of continuous integration (CI) and continuous delivery (CD) rely on automated tests to determine product quality. Test case management tools enable test automation. Integrated code is added to a repository multiple times in a day and versions can be released at any time without human intervention.
Ernest Mueller, organizer of DevOpsdays Austin gives hope to dismaying testers, “It’s a lot of the same kind of fear and uncertainty that operations people faced with DevOps: ‘Well, is this putting me out of job?’ The answer is ‘Not necessarily.’ But it will if you insist on doing what you have always done.”
As Mueller has pointed out, the truth is that DevOps will not eliminate the role of testers but they will change their organizational hierarchy and testing objectives. In order to retain their jobs, testers will have to adapt a new mindset and tweak their approach with the evolving practices.
The first mindset for testers to adopt is that of mentorship. Testers may not run as many tests as before but instead, offer consultation to developers on writing better tests. Developers are not trained for testing with respect to quality checks, keeping the need for testers intact, to groom and guide them for best results. Without this consultative support from testers, developers are likely to perform inadequate testing.
The second skill for testers to imbibe in the face of DevOps is that of reviewers and decision-makers. Testers could work as a part of the agile team and approve their user stories for use in sprints. The acceptance criteria for user stories require an evaluation from the perspective of performance, security, and quality. Testers with a vast knowledge of the diverse testing types are ideally suited to undertake this task.
Another skill for testers to embrace is of research. In traditional systems, a lot of tester’s focus was on documentation. With the escalation of automated processes, the new focus for testers could be studying the data from the automated tests and identify the causes of defects. With this analytical approach, defects can be prevented before occurring, by removing the root causes that generate them.
Lastly, testers can expand their portfolio by performing tests for DevOps that improve their security. While DevOps have improved software development processes, they have their share of vulnerabilities, especially with respect to cybersecurity. Developers do not have the skills for handling security threats. In the case of a hack, they will be unprepared to protect the software. Testers, who have expertise in security testing, can adequately address and resolve security concerns. Testers will perform penetration testing on a regular basis to cope with the fast-paced developments through the automated development processes. To be adept at this task, testers will have to plan in advance, be informed of data and network access, compliance and automation processes.
If taken in the right spirit, DevOps are not a threat to testers. They foster teamwork between developers and operations for shared goals instead of creating a rivalry between them. Yet, any transition of approach creates anxiety in people. In this climate of worry for testers, a quote by the late renowned scientist Charles Darwin is worth drawing inspiration from, “It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” This can certainly hold true for testers experiencing the DevOps revolution.