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When it comes to DevOps and testing, change is certain

The DevOps mind-set is spreading fast and that means testers need to rethink their roles. Expert Stephen Elliot predicts what will happen with DevOps and testing.

In mid-February, the head of AT&T warned his 280,000 workers that, due to fast-changing technologies and business needs, they'd better be spending eight to 10 hours a week learning new skills and retooling themselves for the new DevOps world we're entering. SearchSoftwareQuality asked IDC's Stephen Elliot, vice president of IT infrastructure and cloud operations, whether software testers need to be ready to change too, when DevOps and testing meet. Here's what he had to say.

Should software testers be nervous in the new age of DevOps and testing?

Stephen Elliot: Should software testers be nervous? No, it's an opportunity. The thing is we're human beings, and, generally speaking, most folks don't like change. Certainly in the tech domain, IT people don't like change. This is really about change and progress and about the future. If you're doing manual testing, that might be OK, but you should be asking yourself: "Is this going to take us to the business conversations we need to have? Is it going to increase speed, quality and frequency of deployment?" If you do manual testing, it may be OK, but increasingly we're talking to organizations that are moving from manual to automated testing. This is a big part of the DevOps discussion, and it's a good thing; it's another of the changes we're seeing across the software development discipline. It's time to change. We're finding that, while we'll always need legacy support because nothing really ever dies in IT, we are seeing more and more leaders across DevOps looking at their situations and thinking there's a better way. It may be the time to change is now.

Is DevOps so prevalent that testers need to be worried?

Elliot: How prevalent is DevOps? It's funny; there are two ways to look at the question. Probably 70% of Fortune 1000 companies are sure they are doing DevOps based on how they view it. Their definition might be moving from manual to automated testing on a DevOps project. We're doing DevOps -- we're automating stuff. If IT leaders are having business conversations and really have a team collaborating on technology and business metrics and can articulate that, then wait a sec. If we're doing all that some might define as DevOps, the percentage is going to go down from 70% of businesses to more like 30 to 40% of Fortune 1000 companies. The perception that more companies are doing DevOps is based on how you define and view it. If you really peel away the strict definition, it's definitely less.

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At your company, what happened when DevOps and testing met?
There is no Testers role in devops, I am curious what is role of tester in devops?
Testers manually executing manually written test case scripts should be worried about DevOps coming to their organization. It'll be harder to justify the value of the process intended to resist change and be a gatekeeper.
@Tahira707 I think that is the concern...what IS the role of the tester in DevOps, other than writing automated tests. Testers think there should be a role, of course, but the challenge is how to create it and make it viable in a DevOps culture. @AlbertGareev, have you had experience with this personally?

@Valerie - with what? "Testers manually executing manually written test case scripts" - that still happens in many places.

Resistance to change? - All the time. Depending on the situation, sometimes I helped to overcome the resistance and sometimes advocated for the status quo.

Example. Development team proposed to roll out a functionality into production that would [overnight] scan the database and remove transactions it would consider erroneous or done for testing purposes. I suggested to do a more detailed risk assessment first, and, based on the results, we reconsidered the idea.

The DevOps mind-set is spreading fast and that means testers need to rethink their roles. Expert Stephen Elliot predicts what will happen with DevOps and testing. DevOps makes testers an important part of the development team to develop new features, implement changes and enhancements, along with testing the changes made in the production software. While on the outset this arrangement looks fairly simple to achieve, there can be some challenges that first need to be addressed to automate testing in a DevOps environment. DevOps demands greater integration of development and testing teams. This also means that the testing and QA team has to work closely with product owners and business experts and also understand the working of the business systems being tested. Even testing teams need to develop a Product Lifecycle Management mindset by first unlearning the standard SDLC process. DevOps testing teams also need to assign an architect to select the right testing tools, determine best practices for continuous integration and integrate the test automation suite with the build deployment tool for centralized execution and reporting.