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Extreme Automation - The Need for Today and Tomorrow

Author: Vasudeva Muralidhar Naidu,Senior Delivery Manager

We have read about the success of the 'New Horizon Spacecraft', and its incredible journey to Planet Pluto. This is extreme engineering and pushing human limits to the edge. Similarly, when we hear about the automobile industry and the fact that one additional car is getting assembled every 6 minutes, we are quite amazed at the level of automation that has been achieved.

In recent times, we are realizing the need for similar automation in software testing as well. Software engineering is pushing its limits in every walk of life, resulting in more interfacing applications, more interfacing devices, abilities to store and retrieve huge volumes of data, abilities to build hardware to host software 100X faster and many more. This fast-paced software engineering advancement is posing challenges to software engineers to build an ecosystem which will enable rapid prototyping & design, Agile development & testing, 100% automated deployment. What this means to the testing community is that they not only have to maximize the level of automation that could be achieved in regression testing or functional test execution or virtualization or test data, but they need to maximize this across all life cycle stages of software engineering, development and more importantly in an integrated fashion. 

The challenges that have prevented the tightly integrated life cycle automation, also termed "Extreme Automation," from becoming a reality are software technology incompatibilities, adopters to communicate and the inability to simulate software behavior under test in a cost effective way.

While approaching test automation in the past, the testing community had always been challenged by the term "Return on Investment" and the biggest barrier was funding. Automation tool set was expensive and skills were not easily available. In today's drive towards "Extreme Automation", test automation is not optional anymore. The new age technology adoption and using them for real-life application deployment is possible only with "Extreme Automation". Hence the testing community must move away from ROI as the business case for automation has become imperative.

Now the challenge that lies ­ahead of testing community is to find the answer for "How do we achieve Extreme Automation?" Whom do we collaborate with? I have few recommendations to share.

Test Phase

Extreme Automation Needs

Recommendation/Suggestions

Functional automation

 

(Our traditional sweat spot - Both regression and system test)

·   Need for a single automation framework to work across disparate technologies.

·   It should have ability to run automated script with minimal lead time with code drops.

·   It should have the ability to automate web based applications, middleware applications and backend tests.

Open source tools like Gherkins, Cucumber, Selenium has made this possible. There are several commercial tools which allow you achieve seamless automation allowing you to work with integration tools like Jenkins, script-less automation eliminating skill needs and extensive maintenance effort.

Static Testing/Effective automated Unit tests

·   Checklist and tool drive technical requirements and design review.

·   Identification of requirement and design defects before coding.

·   Maximize automation of unit tests.

Use of standard static testing checklists, open source tools like JMeter, build hardness customized to your application unit test needs.

Test Data

·   Test Data sub setting and provisioning infrastructure readily available.

·   Synthetic data generation rules established.

Implement tools which will make this automation possible and eliminate the wait-time for test data.

Virtualization

Virtualize all possible applications, databases, hardware to make test automation work seamlessly.

ROI in virtualization is not a challenge anymore. There are several initial challenges which need to be addressed with senior management sponsorship to make virtualization a reality.

Build and Deployment automation

Adoption of DevOps.

Automate your release process.

Achieve continuous integration for deployment automation.

 

Conclusion:

While the recommendations in the above table look straight forward and known, the implementation will make all the difference and help achieve extreme automation. The first objective is to understand the needs, believe in its possibility and push towards implementation. The key post implementation is to execute tests in an automated fashion across all integration layers and technologies. Building infrastructure which will enable the same is even more critical. Future technology adoption is possible only with extreme automation and it is important to get ready for the same today.

Comments

Could you please tell me the testing tools required to test the big data. Also what part to automate and which can be used for it.

For software technology incompatibilities, adopters to communicate and the inability to simulate software behavior under test in a cost effective way, have you heard of Atomic DB Associated Information Systems?...It is a unique & Powerful tool for this & "Extreme Automation" may find this tool very useful.

For software development company testing system is what must be in a first plan if they want to take major position in are of their business.

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