Also known as DevTest, development testing is a strategic approach to software development that boosts process efficiency to maximize organizational flexibility.
Under a standard workflow, development and testing are considered two distinct stages. However, collaborative developer tools have enabled the ability to overlap these two stages, and in doing so, create the ability to take advantage of a more integrated process.
When development and testing are distinct, the use of separate milestones creates an inherent gap in progress, as each stage must wait for the other in a serialized fashion. Switching to a cloud-based DevTest environment enables parallel processes and continuous feedback so that incremental updates are constantly part of the pipeline. Not only does this allow groups to work in parallel, it opens the door to faster discovery of issues and more targeted and precise testing/troubleshooting, which then speeds up how they can be addressed and resolved.
Implementing a DevTest methodology introduces many tangible benefits, including:
Improved quality: By driving a continuous feedback loop of incremental development, testing, and integration, issues are constantly addressed to improve product’s overall quality instead of requiring large updates at milestones.
Improved scalability: Scalability issues often stem from resource usage. Using DevTest, this can be tested at various stages while minimizing impact on resources. This enables rapid and wide scalability.
Improved security: Technology evolves at a rapid pace, which means that security flaws and new risks pop up constantly. DevTest allows organizations to seek these out and patch them quickly before they have time to create larger issues.
Faster time to market: The continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) pipeline utilizes shorter turnaround times and parallel processes to hit various milestones sooner. This ultimately brings a product to market faster.
Software development typically takes place in various stages across the following environments. Moving to DevTest creates an overlap between these stages, removing them from these rigid siloes. The level of overlap between environments and stages is dependent on an individual organization’s situation and resources.
A development environment is a secure and stable area where developers can create, tweak, and change functions in an application without any impact on the production environment. Dev environments give developers a way to work in a controlled manner while evaluating how changes are functioning.
Testing environments are isolated environments where testers are given free reign to evaluate the quality of a function, feature, or even the entire application depending on its current state. Testing environments are built to confirm functionality while also looking for bugs or potential efficiency improvements in the user experience.
Staging environments are configured close to the quality and condition of production. While dev environments are strictly for creating and implementing code, the staging environment brings that code to a wider audience for testing and QA examination on an internal stakeholder level.
The production environment is a setting where software and other products are actually put into operation for their intended uses by end users.
Within the testing stage, different types of environments exist depending on usage factors. The type of application, available resources, volume of testers, and the volume of parallel testing (and how each test may impact other functions) are all factors, ultimately determining the kind of testing environment to use. The most common testing environments include:
When developers need to gauge the efficiency of an application’s speed, processing, and resource usage, this type of environment provides a clinical view.
System integration testing is a comprehensive stage that ensures the complete workflow of modules, functions, and dependencies communicate and work as needed.
Can applications meet user expectations? This stage represents the business side of things. Working in a user acceptance testing environment allows for functional checking prior to production.
Getting software to run properly is one thing. But in a cloud environment, security is just as important. Is data vulnerable? Does it open a backdoor to other resources? Can it be accessed by malware? Security testing environments allow testers to try and poke holes in the application’s defenses, then fortify them before production.
Chaos testing environments are critical to understanding the stability and scalability of an application. This creates a stress test to assess what might happen during unexpected actions, usage spikes, or other conditions that put strain on resources. A thorough chaos test creates a more stable and available end product for the user.
What happens when someone uses the application as intended? What happens if someone uses the application in unexpected ways? Both of these questions are answered in quality assurance testing, as testers methodically check all aspects of the application to create (or recreate) bugs and issues.
Getting to the alpha test stage marks a significant milestone for the development cycle, as it means the product is functionally complete, stable, and capable of meeting all user expectations. Alpha testing is the final stage before public exposure in a beta environment.
Once an application passes through alpha testing, it is ready to move on to the beta test stage. A beta testing environment is a limited public space where users outside of the organization use the product. This tests both unexpected user actions and internal resources at a greater scale. Once a product passes beta testing, it is ready for public release.
For DevOps managers, developers, and database administrators, working with development and testing environments is a full-time commitment. In particular, developers are chartered to deliver features quickly, manage and scale entire toolsets as needed, and maintain ongoing collaboration and integration with internal and external applications.
Achieving this requires reliable cloud infrastructure support, along with CI/CD and collaboration constructs. Successfully running microservices-style applications also requires unification between various other DevOps tools for collaboration, monitoring, and other such tasks. All of this must be assessed and completed prior to production—and the stakes are even higher for business-critical applications.
All of these points highlight the importance of a DevTest environment for preproduction phases. By moving this environment to the cloud, developers focus on application creation, as a DevTest environment streamlines resource and logistical management. Cloud development and test environments also give operations the necessary systems management framework for more predictability while moving to production.