Companies use DevOps to quickly respond to changing market dynamics and customer demands.
Either way, the biggest hurdle to implementing a successful DevOps framework is testing.
Many QA organizations use DevOps frameworks but still prefer to manually test their software. This means less visibility and project backlogs that ultimately lead to project delays and cost overruns.
The need for better approaches to development and testing has been driven by the desire for smaller budgets and faster delivery. With the right testing principles, DevOps can help shorten the software development life cycle (SDLC), but not without costly mistakes.
Many organizations are adapting their traditional sequential approach to software development to be better equipped to test earlier and at all stages.
Everyday Test Automation Challenges
- Development Time – Many companies consider developing their own test automation frameworks, but this is usually not a good idea because it is time consuming and will cost significant capital to develop it from scratch.
- Learning Curve – Companies using code-based open source tools like Selenium rely on tech-savvy people to manage their test automation framework. This is a big deal because it can be difficult and time-consuming for non-technical business users to learn the tools. Technical users and teams have more important tasks to perform than testing.
- Maintenance costs – Most test automation tools use static scripts, which means they cannot quickly adapt to changes that occur due to UI changes in the form of new screens, buttons, user flows, or user input.
What is the Shift-left strategy?
It is part of an organizational form known as DevSecOps (a collaboration between development, security and operations) that ensures application security in the earliest stages of the development life cycle.
The term “Left Shift” refers to a process shift left over from the traditional linear depiction of the software development life cycle (SDLC). In DevOps, security and testing are two of the most commonly discussed topics for moving to the left.
Shift left Testing
Application testing was traditionally done at the end of development, before they were sent to security teams. Applications that do not meet quality standards, do not function correctly, or otherwise do not meet requirements will be sent back to development for further changes. It led to significant bottlenecks during the SDLC and was incompatible with DevOps methodologies that emphasize development speed.
As a result of left-shift testing, defects can be detected and fixed much earlier in the software development process. This simplifies the development cycle, dramatically improves quality, and enables faster progress to later stages for security analysis and deployment.
Security testing has become standard practice in recent years, following application testing in the development cycle. At this time, various types of analysis and security testing will be performed by the security teams.
The results of the security testing will determine whether the application can be deployed to production or whether it should be rejected and returned to the developers for remediation. This has resulted in long development delays or an increased risk of software being released without the necessary security measures in place.
Moving to the left side of security means implementing security measures throughout the development cycle, not at the end. By moving security to the left, software is designed with integrated security best practices, and potential security issues and vulnerabilities are identified and fixed as early as possible in the development process, making security issues easier, faster and more affordable to resolve.
It’s no secret that IT has failed over the past two decades. Today, it is possible to develop the infrastructure on a self-service basis, because it is fully automated;
- With AWS, GCP, or Azure, developers can easily provision resources without involving IT or operations
- CI/CD processes automatically create, stage, and deploy test, staging, and production environments in the cloud or on-premise, and tear them down when they are no longer needed.
- CloudFormation and Terraform are widely used to deploy environments declaratively using Infrastructure-as-Code (IaC).
- With Kubernetes, organizations can provision containerized workloads dynamically using adaptive, automated processes.
As a result of this shift, development productivity and speed have increased tremendously, raising serious security concerns. A fast-paced environment leaves little time for post-development security reviews or analysis of cloud infrastructure configurations. It is often too late to fix problems that are discovered before the next development sprint.
What is the principle of shift left test?
When developers test early in the development cycle, they can catch problems early and fix them before they reach a production environment. By identifying problems earlier, developers don’t waste time applying solutions to flawed implementations, and operations teams don’t have to maintain broken applications. To improve application quality, developers can identify the root cause of problems and modify the architecture or underlying components.
A left approach to testing pushes testing to the left or earlier stages of the pipeline. This allows teams to find and fix bugs as early as possible in the development process.
In addition to increasing collaboration between testers and developers, left testing makes it easier to identify key aspects that need early testing.
The main advantage of variable testing is that testers are involved in the entire cycle, including the planning phase. Testing becomes part of a developer’s daily routine as they become competent in automated testing technologies. Software is designed from the ground up with quality in mind, with testing being part of the organization’s DNA.
Benefits of implementing a shift-left strategy
The main advantage of shift-left testing is that it reduces overall development time. To migrate left, two key DevOps practices must be implemented: continuous testing and continuous deployment.
Increased delivery speed
It’s not rocket science that the sooner you start, the sooner you’ll finish. Catching critical bugs early in the software development cycle allows them to be fixed sooner and more efficiently. The result is a significant reduction in time between releases and faster delivery times.
Improved test coverage
From testing right at the beginning of the development process, all features, functions and performance of the software can be quickly evaluated. Test coverage percentages naturally increase when left-shift testing is performed. The overall quality of the software is greatly improved by increasing test coverage.
Ultimately, moving left is worth the effort and time it takes to implement. This allows the QA team to dive deeper into the product and implement innovative testing solutions. Furthermore, it allows the testing team to become more comfortable with the tools and techniques involved. In addition, left-shift testing simplifies several aspects of software development.
Lower cost of development and testing
Debugging is one of the most difficult aspects of software development. Typically, the cost of fixing a bug increases significantly as software evolves in the SDLC. The sooner you find your mistakes, the easier it will be to fix them.
Let’s take the example of a payment app that discovers a security vulnerability only after its latest app version is released. Of course, it would have cost more if the team had discovered the vulnerability earlier in development. But now the company will have to spend significantly more time, effort and money to fix the problem. The complexity of implementing changes in a production environment makes it difficult to do anything after the fact, not to mention the overhead associated with late maintenance.
Gartner estimates the cost of network outages at $5,600 per minute, totaling more than $300,000 per hour.
Improves product quality
The Shift Left testing approach has a positive impact on overall code quality with rigorous and frequent code quality checks. It facilitates timely correspondence with stakeholders, developers, and testers and provides timely feedback that helps improve code quality. This means that your customers receive a stable and high quality end product.
When you mix Shift Left with the leading DevOps practices of continuous testing and continuous development, you set the stage for Shift Left to win. Furthermore, Shift Left is important in a DevOps environment because:
- Teams are quick to identify and report bugs.
- Features are being released quickly.
- The quality of the software is excellent.