Deming Meets DevOps – How Automated Testing Pulls the Andon Cord

August 27, 2015 | By Mark O'Neill, VP Innovation, Axway

Axway and SmartBear recently announced integration between Axway 5 Suite for API Management, and SmartBear Ready! API, which helps perform and automate functional, load, performance testing, and even monitor service performance levels.  But why was it so important?  The reason is that without testing automation, you can’t govern the DevOps process.

Part of the promise of digital business is that it’s possible to cut delivery times on projects from months to days, or 10x. And it does happen.  We’ve seen projects cut from six months, 180 days, to 3 weeks, or 21 depending on how you count, and APIs delivered in hours. But making all the changes to get there, adopting more of a DevOps process is hard.

I recently read a survey on software testing trends that showed this, though I’m not sure that was the intent. It was a relatively modern testing group of 250 respondents, with 80% testing Web apps and over 40% testing APIs. Over 40% said they used Scrum as their main methodology, more than any other approach.  But 60% said their release cycle hadn’t changed; only 32% said their release frequency had increased.  

Isn’t releasing faster the goal? I believe it is, but it’s very often hard to change how software is developed within an organization. Many just try to do the same thing faster–commonly called “Agilefall”–until it’s no longer possible. The end-to-end software delivery process needs to be reengineered around the goal of continual delivery.

And in the process, employee roles will change. Most process-aholics, BPM blackbelts, or people who have learned about lean integration, know that many of these traditional processes can be reengineered to deliver 10x the throughput. It’s been proven by Netflix and several API management teams. You just need to learn how to help your organization make the transition from Agilefall to true agile.

If you want to see testing and security in action, watch the upcoming Webinar, Testing and Protecting Your APIs: Practical Tips to Achieve API Security Nirvana.

If you’re interested in DevOps, I recommend the latest issue of Java Magazine dedicated to DevOps. It covers a bit of the history, some examples, uses of Chef, Docker and Puppet, which are all good things to understand. I think the Netflix story highlights the real change in the process. One point I liked in the article. They talk about a delivery pipeline where each stage in the pipeline has tests on code quality, and if a test fails, everything stops until the code is fixed and passes. “Automated tests are the foundation of a delivery pipeline.”

Automated testing is a critical part of DevOps.  Compare DevOps to just-in-time manufacturing and what the Japanese refer to as “Kanban.”  With Kanban, the manufacturing lines are reengineered to deliver higher quality products much more quickly.  The inventory that buffered manufacturing from problems was removed.  But the process had to change to stop any errors from moving down the assembly line.  That’s where the “Andon” cord came in. When someone pulled the Andon cord anywhere along the manufacturing line, the entire line stopped until the problem was fixed.

Testing is the Andon cord of DevOps. It’s what keeps Agile, which can be chaotic, in control. Without it, quality will decline.  This is why the integration between Axway and SmartBear is so important to the industry as a whole, and for the successful transition to DevOps.

TOPICS: API Management

Mark O'Neill

VP Innovation, Axway

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