The art of making your bed and continuous testing

Little things make a difference. Don’t let testing be an afterthought with CA's new open-source, cloud-based innovations.

One of my favorite inspirational videos is a commencement speech given by Adm. William H. McRaven, ninth commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, at The University of Texas at Austin on May 17, 2014. A Navy SEAL for 37 years, Adm. McRaven’s speech was powerful, motivating—and had lots of good advice that’s applicable in life, technology and business.

The first lesson that McRaven conveys starts with a story about how students in SEAL training were expected to make their beds to perfection every morning—a detai that at first seems incongruous with the fact that these are aspiring battle-hardened warriors, typically living off just a few hours of sleep. However, McRaven points out the wisdom in this mundane task. A well-made bed was the first accomplishment of the day—one that could be easily achieved. And at the end of the day, no matter how bad that day was, you would at least return to a bed that was made.

The point of his story is that little things make a difference—if they are done consistently and thoroughly. A small habit like making your bed can help give you the discipline, confidence and encouragement to go on to bigger and better things that day.

In the software development world, testing is one of those tasks that, like making a bed, is easy to leave as an afterthought. It’s easy enough to wait until development is complete and the code is nearly ready for release to send it into “happy pass” testing.

However, that approach is not sufficient for today’s fast moving application economy—any more than an undisciplined recruit is sufficient to be a Navy SEAL. In Computing Magazine’s DevOps report, 63% of self-proclaimed DevOps practitioners said the biggest delays occurred at the QA/Test phase. Today, testing is something that needs to be done consistently and thoroughly.

We refer to this as continuous testing—the practice of testing throughout every activity in the SDLC to uncover and fix unexpected behaviors as soon as they are injected. Continuous testing is easy to say, but less easy to implement.

Shift left and shift right

To achieve continuous testing, you need to do three things right: you need to shift left, shift right and automate the software development lifecycle (SDLC) via orchestration tools and analytics.

  • Shift left incorporates testing into software design and development to find defects earlier, while the current sprint is still underway.
  • Shift right incorporates user monitoring into DevOps initiatives to find performance and availability issues that might have tested well in the lab but surfaced during production.
  • Automation is achieved through a mix of orchestration and analytics. Orchestrating the entire toolchain with agnostic pipeline planning and optimization, eliminates tedious tracking spreadsheets, and enables the automation of test processes. Analytics on time spent at each step in the SDLC provides a basis to continually improve the delivery of revenue-generating features to your customers.

 

If you do these things consistently and thoroughly, you will be able to achieve continuous testing. And once you are testing continuously, you will be amazed at the results this discipline and consistency provides.

Simplifying continuous testing

Fortunately, you are not on your own when it comes to continuous testing. The team here at CA has been very hard at work developing a set of tools to help. Here is a summary of the innovations we introduced at this week’s Velocity conference:

 

Together or individually, these tools complement CA’s already market leading continuous delivery and continuous testing set of solutions, and enable you to make continuous testing a habit. Much like making the bed in Adm. McRaven’s story, the habit of continuous testing will both make it easier for you to start your work day—and help you sleep better at night.

If you would like to learn more about these solutions, stop by the CA Technologies booth (#124) at this week’s Velocity conference. Or visit CA’s Continuous Testing information page.

 


Jeff Scheaffer is general manager of Continuous Delivery Business Unit at CA Technologies. In this…

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