Improving the QA Process at an Agile Office

Companies of all sizes continue to embrace the Agile methodology with the hopes of making their software development process more efficient and subsequently more productive. Agile emphasizes collaboration and communication and it is able to react to changes better than older methodologies, like the Waterfall. It is a perfect match for today’s fast-paced, competitive business world.

A faster software engineering process, however, doesn’t mean companies should forego testing and quality assurance. Unfortunately, it seems businesses are struggling with software QA within an Agile framework, according to a recent survey of development shops. Let’s take a closer look at the study’s findings with the hopes of improving the QA role at Agile shops.

Testing Tool Provider, Zephyr, looks at QA in the Business World

Zephyr, a company making applications to support software testing, annually releases a study focused the QA role within the business community. Called “How the World Tests,” it is available as a free download from their website. Managers in the software development and QA role need to check out the full study with its findings and predictions for the coming year.

Hamesh Chawla, vice president of engineering at Zephyr, commented on the purpose of their study. “‘How the World Tests’ allows the entire testing community to examine our progress over the last year. IT teams want to speed up deployment of new software to meet demand. Companies should increase employee education investments in order to fine-tune the most efficient automated tests that work for any software they develop,” said Chawla.

Quality assurance remains a vital part of the SDLC no matter the choice of methodology. Even so, we are going to focus on one area within the survey — the difficulties Agile shops are experiencing with QA on software projects. SD Times also covered this topic in a recent article.

The Major Problems of Software Testing and Agile

The Zephyr study noted three major problems development teams were experiencing when it comes to testing with Agile. They are the lack of automation tools, constantly changing requirements, and not enough time for thorough testing. Companies understand automation is important in helping QA keep up with the rapid pace of an Agile project, but only 45 percent of the survey respondents felt their organization had the competency to employ automated testing.

Chawla feels companies need to invest in automation tools and the training to leverage them properly within the Agile process. Of course, he works at a testing tool company, but that fact doesn’t lessen the impact of his statement. Software development teams also use other recent innovations, like containers and virtualization, to make the overall process faster.

Businesses also need to invest more dollars in employee development to ensure a better understanding of Agile and everyone’s role within the framework. Involving QA personnel at every step of the SDLC is also important – a traditional complaint of software testers for decades. The reengineering of testing processes to better fit within the Agile structure is another key point of improvement from the survey.

Ultimately, organizations need to understand that Agile doesn’t just mean “faster.” A well-considered process that properly includes the QA role is a requirement to ensure successful product delivery.

When you need additional insights on the world of software development, you know where to turn: The Betica Blog. As always, thanks for reading!

DevOps becoming Standard at the Enterprise

A competitive business environment requires companies to work faster than ever before – including their software development initiatives. This remains one of the major reasons organizations look towards Agile as an application engineering methodology. Making Agile work efficiently requires better collaboration between the various departments within IT, with DevOps seeing increasingly wide adoption as an organizational structure to improve interaction between teams.

In fact, DevOps isn’t only for companies on the bleeding edge of innovation. It is fast becoming a standard at enterprises as well as smaller businesses. Let’s take a closer look at this trend, as it may be time to leverage the advantages of improved collaboration at your shop.

The Emerging Popularity of DevOps is linked with the Growth of the Cloud

Writing for BetaNews, IT infrastructure architect, Jon Topper feels the entry of DevOps into the enterprise mainstream is related to the now near-standard status of Cloud-based services at the business. “2016’s increase in adoption ties in directly with the growing confidence in and uptake of public cloud technologies too. DevOps and cloud remain closely linked; it’s our view that a cloud strategy without a DevOps approach will probably fail,” said Topper.

Since its introduction over six years ago, DevOps has undergone the same level of iterative improvement at those innovative companies first using the organizational structure. With more businesses looking at the Cloud for cost savings and productivity improvements, it now makes sense to use a now mature DevOps as part of a migration to a Cloud-based infrastructure.

A Nimble Business simply competes Better

Providing better customer service – at either a B2B or B2C level – remains a key factor separating the top companies from the also-rans no matter the industry. A desire for this kind of business agility is also causing enterprises to embrace DevOps to streamline their software development and infrastructure management processes with no loss in productivity. In short, a nimble business is a better competitor.

“We’re now getting to the stage where, without a DevOps approach, businesses can’t unlock agility without compromising on quality, security, and people. It’s become a requirement to stay ahead of the game,” comments Jon Topper.

DevOps Adoption brings many Benefits to a Business

Adopting a DevOps structure at an IT department provides a host of tangible benefits to the business. A yearly study – the State of DevOps Report – produced by the software development company, Puppet, details some of these gains. They include the ability to “deploy 200 times more frequently, with 2,555 times faster lead times, recover 24 times faster, and have three times lower change failure rates.”

Firms using DevOps also enjoy higher employee loyalty ratings. They spent 22 percent less time on reworking code; allowing 29 percent more time for new features and innovations, according to the Puppet Study. In short, DevOps is a must if an enterprise wants to successfully compete in today’s business landscape.

Looking at the informed analysis of an IT industry pundit combined with hard numbers from a research study, it is easy to understand why DevOps is rapidly becoming the standard at today’s technology shop. Businesses who forego it do so at their own peril!

Stay tuned to the Betica Blog for additional insights and dispatches from the world of software development. Thanks for reading!

Microservices – a Flexible Architecture for the Continuous Deployment Era

As more modern businesses embrace new organizational structures like DevOps, with a goal of achieving the continuous deployment of software, SOA architectures are becoming more granular. Microservices is a term used to describe these lightweight, highly portable applications used to build larger systems. Each microservice typically runs in its own process, communicating with other microservices using a protocol, such as HTTP.

Like many newer technology industry buzzwords, it is hard to explicitly define microservices, but enough common attributes exist to provide a high-level overview. Perhaps this architectural approach makes sense for your team’s next application design?

An Architecture to better support a Scalable Internet

The esteemed software architecture pundit, Martin Fowler, describes how the need for microservices grew out of the hassle of making relatively minor changes to large monolithic applications running in the Cloud. For example, a simple UI change required all the components in the application to be rebuilt and redeployed across multiple servers.

Improved scalability in a Cloud-based distributed environment is another major advantage of microservices. Older applications required all of their components to be scaled. On the other hand, software designed using microservices only needs the scaling of the most resource intensive portions of the application.

The fact that each microservice is individually deployable ultimately makes this process easier to manage for build engineers.

Improved Flexibility when designing Applications

Being able to leverage collections of microservices is a boon for organizations looking at code reuse for quickly architecting, designing, and building a web-based application. This echoes some of the original promises of SOA – or even piecing together desktop software using components – but the improved granularity of a smaller microservice works better in this era of the Cloud. 

Using microservices also makes it easier to organize an application’s architecture. Fowler notes many enterprises create teams based on the business capability for a microservice. This means each cross-functional team includes personnel responsible for the UX, database, middleware, etc.

From an organizational standpoint, this is a structure similar to the Agile Tribes concept used at the Internet music streaming company, Spotify. Fowler mentioned that companies organizing their software development teams around their chosen application architecture is another example of Conway’s Law influencing the software engineering process – a process we talked about last year.

Designed for Continuous Delivery

As mentioned earlier, application design using microservices helps organizations achieve a continuous delivery model compared to older software architectures. Given a scenario where only a small portion of a microservice needs updating, it is easier to rebuild that granular piece instead of an entire application. Organizations are able to leverage automated test and build routines to streamline the entire process.

Still an Emerging Software Development Model

Fowler feels it is too soon to anoint microservices as the future of software development. “While our experiences so far are positive compared to monolithic applications, we’re conscious of the fact that not enough time has passed for us to make a full judgment. Often the true consequences of your architectural decisions are only evident several years after you made them,” said Fowler.

There’s no denying that microservices architecture is worthy of further analysis by your software development organization. It just may be the missing link on your path to highly scalable and easily deployable applications.

Keep returning to the Betica Blog for additional insights on the software development world. Thanks for reading!