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What is QAOps?

What is QAOps?

Software product companies are always in a never-ending race to deliver better versions of their products to customers. But accelerated delivery comes at the expense of quality, and sacrificing quality is a short-sighted delivery strategy that almost always ends up causing more chaos in the long run.

Traditional testing approaches may cause major bottlenecks that can slow down the development and release. Enter QAOps, where this doesn’t happen because of the magic that lies in its versatility 🧙‍♂️

So what is QAOps? Before you can understand this, it’s important to understand what DevOps, continuous integration, and continuous delivery are. So let me briefly explain them first.

DevOps, Continuous Integration & Continuous Delivery

DevOps is a set of practices that combines software development and IT operations. It aims to shorten the systems development life cycle and provide continuous delivery with high software quality.

CI/CD is a method to frequently deliver apps to customers by introducing automation into the stages of app development. The main concepts attributed to CI/CD are continuous integration, continuous delivery, and continuous deployment.

To understand more about CI/CD and Continuous testing, you can refer to my article– Introduction to continuous testing and cloud test execution on AWS EC2 using GitLab.

DevOps and CI/CD

DevOps framework’s success in the industry has spawned the creation of lots of DevOps spin-offs, like DevSecOps, DataOps, and NetOps. Each of these spinoffs is built on top of the DevOps concept by extending it to a new area of IT operations, like security (in the case of DevSecOps), network administration (in the case of NetOps), etc. QAOps is one of those flavors. Now back to our original question:

What Is QAOps?

QAOps refers to maintaining software quality by approaching it with a DevOps mindset đź’­ QAOps is an emerging practice that integrates QA into software delivery pipelines. We can achieve this by integrating QA processes, automation, and QA reporting dashboard with the software development lifecycle (SDLC) process.

In a nutshell, QAOps combines QA processes and reporting dashboards with the basic ideas of DevOps like continuous integration, continuous delivery, and continuous testing.

QAOps lifecycle
Image source: https://www.cognizantsoftvision.com/blog/how-qa-contributes-to-digital-transformation/

How QAOps Works and Why QAOps Matters

QAOps seeks to integrate QA practices with development and IT operations to create a long-term, integrated operational delivery model. In contrast to the traditional approach of QA being a final pass/fail checkpoint before a release, QAOps integrates QA throughout the SDLC.

Within QAOps, QA teams are given a more prominent role in the SDLC and are involved during the initial phases of it. This empowers QA teams the ability to analyze the requirements earlier, find issues sooner, and help to deliver a defect-free product to the customers.

By increasing the collaboration between the QA engineers and developers, QA engineers get to work closely with software developers, operations personnel, and everyone involved in the CI/CD pipeline.

This will provide a clear picture of the testing process and the product as a whole to the development and operations teams. This will help them fix bugs faster and release the product earlier âś…

Working in collaboration with different teams helps you learn and experience how different teams operate. It also gives you the opportunity to increase your skill level in different areas.

QAOps involves testing the product or a particular part of the product as and when the update is integrated, so that the QA team doesn’t have to wait for a new build. This improves the overall release workflow. To summarise, QAOps guarantees:

  • Better quality product- Continuous testing maintains an effortless continuity in the CI/CD workflow by delivering faster and high-quality results, leading to a better product.
  • Faster time to market- A high level of collaboration between various teams speeds up the entire workflow, thus shortening the delivery cycles.
  • Improved testing and bug fixing- Improved reporting leads to a better process understanding, resulting in improved testing and bug fixing.
  • Better customer experience- Continuous testing on an intelligent automation framework gives a high quality and a stable and reliable product, leading to a better customer experience.

Best Practices for QAOps

Let’s see how QAOps can be used to improve specific testing processes and some best practices surrounding it:

đź’ˇ Automated Testing

Automation testing is a software testing technique, that is preformed by using a special automated testing tool to execute a test case suite. Successive development cycles requires a repeated execution of the same test suite.

Using a test automation tool, it’s possible to record this test suite and re-play it as required. Once the test suite is automated, no human intervention is required. This improves the ROI of the test automation, and serves as the first step to implementing QAOps.

đź’ˇ Parallel Testing

Running automated tests will definitely speed up the testing process, but not when they are being executed in a serial manner. This is where the parallel testing approach can help.

Parallel testing is a semi-automated testing process that relies on cloud technology and virtualization to perform tests against several configurations at the same time.

đź’ˇ Test Scalability

Scalability aids in determining the application’s performance under varying load conditions. QAOps requires a test framework and infrastructure in place to conduct it as and when required.

At times, the CI/CD pipeline scales up and down depending on the project requirements. During these times, the testing should also be in sync with the CI/CD pipeline. As a standard QAOps practice, QA teams must have the scalable infrastructure to perform testing and increase the speed of tests when needed.

đź’ˇ Smoke Testing

Smoke testing, also known as “build verification testing” or “confidence testing,” determines whether a deployed build is stable or not. If features don’t work or bugs haven’t been fixed, testing is halted to prevent developers from wasting time installing a broken test build.

đź’ˇ Integrating Dev and IT Ops in QA

This approach involves integrating the QA process in the CI/CD pipeline. The developers who are building the process can write the test cases.

The operations team, along with the QA team, can work on identifying the problems or bugs in the developed product. Implementing shift-left testing to incorporate the QAOps framework can help achieve this target.

Conclusion 

The emergence of QAOps draws attention to the fact that quality is often neglected in software development, and it shouldn’t be. QA analysts and test engineers are integral to any successful long-term delivery model.

Implementing QAOps can give your organization an upper hand over your competitors in the software development industry, and QAOps (when correctly designed and implemented) definitely paves the road to faster software delivery. This gives the development teams the confidence for a faster time to market without any quality compromises 🎯

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About the author

Afsal Backer

Afsal Backer is a Test Automation Engineer, who is a strong advocate of shift-left and continuous testing. He is all about making “Has Automated Testing” part of the acceptance criteria and combining QA with CI builds.

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