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The Art of DevOps | @DevOpsSummit [#DevOps #Containers #Microservices]

Important risk analysis must be performed during the initial requirements gathering during each sprint

The Art of DevOps | Part 3

In this 4-part blog series, I am exposing DevOps best practices using a metaphor inspired by the famous 6th century Chinese manuscript: "The Art of War." It is worth reminding that Sun Tzu, just like me, considered war as a necessary evil, which must be avoided whenever possible. What are we fighting for here? Ultimately, we're fighting for the absolute best services and features that we can deliver to our customers as quickly as we possibly can, and to eliminate the "War Room" scenario we are all so familiar with.

When we last left off, the troops had deployed the build from the Islands of Development to the Staging Grounds. The environments have been outfitted with extensive application monitoring tools and prepared for testing that exposes the battle readiness of the build. Ultimately each build must be exhaustively tested to help ferret out issues that regularly infiltrate user scenarios, UI, high concurrent use, performance, security, disaster recovery, processes, infrastructure and any other function that affects successful operations.

Uncovering issues in the build accomplishes the primary objective in the Staging Grounds. Important risk analysis must be performed during the initial requirements gathering during each sprint. Risks must be assessed regarding how each addition or change in the sprint will affect the overall operation. Because not every change is created equal, the level of risk each change poses will determine:

  • What should be tested
  • The priority in which to build the automated test cases
  • How comprehensive the testing should be around the change
  • Data that may be needed to exercise the identified risks
  • Configuration change effects
  • Number of possibilities to consider when testing the build. This may include but is not limited to:
    • Geographical placement of the tests
    • Consumers such as:
      • Desktop browsers
      • Native Mobile Applications
      • Thick clients
      • Browser versions
    • Business Continuity & Disaster Recovery Scenarios
    • Login users, roles and rights
    • Workflow paths
    • Operating Systems

Constructing the automated testing can be challenging, time-consuming and expensive. While automation in testing adds to the defenses, it also introduces new complexities. Automated test cases must be maintained and updated; therefore, automation cases should be scrutinized for their overall value and return on investment. Automation in testing acts as a supplemental guard to manual testing and will often be evolutionary. A solid feedback loop between operations and development is crucial to improving the automated tests within the delivery pipeline. Ideally the automation should decrease the time to identify an issue and enable troops to focus manual test cases on more obscure and valuable scenarios. As a best practice all test cases identified should be tracked and managed in a Test Case manager like Zephyr, Silk Central or TestRail, to name just a few. Moreover, the system that is chosen must integrate with the requirements tracking tool. This will maintain traceability by linking the test cases with the requirements throughout the lifecycle. For example, Zephyr is the native test case manager used in conjunction with Jira.

As for the staging environments, the infrastructure should be as close to imitating the infrastructure found in the Operational Battlefield. This will ensure that all testing performed is relevant and test results will accurately predict what's to be expected in operations. Troops should also, when deemed effective, establish new virtual machines using baseline images and apply version controlled configuration templates executed by the same configuration management tools found in the Islands of Development. The following types of performance tests are then performed in the Staging Grounds:

A host of software options are available for our arsenal and affords many of the automation functions mentioned above. A few common tools embraced are Selenium, Load Runner and Visual Studio Test. Larger and far more comprehensive testing for web sites can be executed using platform services such as Dynatrace Synthetic Monitoring - a global network of machines that provide most of the testing variations reviewed earlier. Batteries of tests can be authored in this SaaS environment and directed to hit the Staging Grounds with a vengeance. A global simulation emulates a vast number of end users, using a diverse set of desktop configurations and mobile devices that are located across the world. Traffic patterns can be increased to introduce high volumes of concurrent users and attain accurate real world effects on the staged build. Leveraging these automated testing techniques in combination with a highly focused set of manual tests offers the optimal atmosphere for uncovering issues.

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More Stories By Brett Hofer

Brett Hofer is as passionate about DevOps as he is about music and art. Specializing in delivering complex mission critical software under methodologies such as Agile, Lean and Waterfall (to name a few), his success at managing and delivering projects with complex technical and political challenges is almost legendary. More than twenty years of broad software/IT experience—from product designer and solution architect to senior management—has given him a unique 360° perspective on IT that has earned the respect of customers and peers alike. Tweet him at @brett_solarch

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