Maximize Test Automation Benefits, Implement DevOps
June 20, 2017
Part 1 and part 2 focused on the ROI and example of banks getting started with test automation. In this last installment, we consider DevOps to be another technology practice that speed-conscious organizations can use in tandem to leverage test automation benefits.
How can an enterprise get maximum benefit from test automation?
“A mindset of continuously delivering quality software means that teams and units are no longer bound within their own siloed goals; rather, they pursue outcomes that benefit the organization, and ultimately, the customer.” Dave Aguila, Senior Architect
Organizations who are already doing test automation may consider implementing CI/CD so that they can reap a multiplier-effect of benefits.
Whereas Continuous Integration is a practice of integrating code into a single and shared code base, such as Github, Continuous Delivery organizes and implements a team’s testing, staging, and deployment processes, such that production-ready software can be deployed at any time.
Both CI and CD are complementary software engineering processes commonly used in the same breath with DevOps. DevOps is a paradigm shift that advocates a culture of deep communication and collaboration between the business units of software development (“Dev”) and IT operations (“Ops”) to deliver quality software. Such tight-knit integration means software is rolled out into production, or deployed, almost all the time.
What does this mean for the enterprise? Businesses who embrace the DevOps ethos and practice CI/CD extol the benefit of deploying to production and upgrading their software products and solutions with blazing speed-to-market. This is made realistic and doable through test automation because new “builds” are more quickly screened for errors and bugs against myriad scenarios, before “check-ins” or integration into a continuous delivery pipeline.
“We can think of DevOps and a culture of ‘continuous-everything’ as the big organizational goal where a spectrum of software engineering practices exist,” explains Mr. Aguila. “Test automation, continuous integration, continuous delivery, and in some cases, continuous deployment–where changes are automatically pushed to the wild without need of human triggers–are simply means to execute,” he elaborates. For Mr. Aguila, the choice between continuous delivery or continuous deployment ties closely to the nature of and principles behind the business venture. Banks and financial institutions that are heavily-regulated need to weigh between (1) governance and the level of control, and (2) speed-to-market through automated approvals.
It seems like a delicate balancing act, but it is possible. Encouraging success stories of DevOps adoption in the financial sector abound.
- Capital One’s ongoing DevOps journey equipped it to be the first bank to integrate with the Amazon Echo, enabling customers use voice commands when managing their finances. In a separate initiative, it now notifies customers of possible fraudulent and duplicate credit card charges much earlier.
- Barclays, whose daily volume of transactions equates to about 30% of the UK’s GDP, implemented DevOps over a period of 18 months. They have since cut back deploying software updates from 56 days to under 4 weeks.
- The London Multi-Asset Exchange (LMAX), a highly regulated FX retail market in the UK, made a massive investment in automated testing so that code releases to production are scheduled every two weeks, on a Saturday, without disrupting trading hours.
According to CA Technologies’ Asia Pacific & Japan Application Economy Index, 69% of companies surveyed in the APJ region claim they have already implemented DevOps to some degree. These companies’ three key drivers for instilling DevOps are: (1) to keep abreast with customer demands; (2) to innovate on the customer experience; and (3) to be more responsive to business demands.
This article explained how two technology investments, test automation and CI/CD, can help transform banking operations to improve the customer experience. Test automation fosters quality assurance across the entire lifecycle of software development because errors caught earlier in the process translates to a better way of doing business. Meanwhile, Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery boost the adaptability of financial institutions to trends and new technologies when tested software is continuously integrated into a production-ready pipeline, where it awaits actual deployment.
Adopting any new technology is a process with its fair share of risks. Cultural fit and readiness are foremost of many considerations to drive a successful change effort. A paced rate of change can begin with embedding quality assurance through automated testing in projects and solutions that need seamless transactions and regulatory compliance. On the other hand, banks can respond to, and even leverage on, the advent of fintech by breaking down departmental silos to optimize the performance of entire systems, not just parts of it. The latter approach would benefit immensely from a CI/CD practice. Decision makers need to be shrewd in assessing how each technology, or both, can equip their firms to thrive in a complex and increasingly digitized financial landscape.
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