Agile? DevOps? What’s The Difference And Do You Have To Choose Between Them?

Any roles involved in a project that do not directly contribute toward the goal of putting valuable software in the hands of users as quickly as possible should be carefully considered.” – Stein Inge Morisbak

Does anyone remember the days when the Waterfall model was still around and widely adopted by the enterprises? Over the years most developers have stories of how they realized that it wasn’t giving the best results, that it was slow and inflexible as it followed a sequential process. Fast forward a few years and the principles of Kanban and scrum methodology organically evolved and gave rise to the Agile approach to software development –and we were all on board in a flash. Suddenly, software development teams were able to shift from longer development cycles to shorter sprints, fast releases, and multiple iterations.

How to use between agile and Devops?

But the evolution was not over, as we now know. As Agile shone a spotlight on releasing fast and often, enterprises started loving the opportunity to be more flexible and to speedily incorporate the feedback of their customers. However, this also revealed some drawbacks with the Agile approach. Though the development cycle was faster, there was a lack of collaboration between the developers and the operations team and this was adversely impacting the release and the customer experience.

This gave rise to the new methodology of DevOps which focused on better communication among development, testing, business, and the operations team to provide faster and more efficient development.

So now software development organizations face a choice –should they be Agile? Or do DevOps? Or perhaps somehow both? Let’s look at both approaches more closely, starting with filling in the essential backstory.

The Agile Approach Explained

Software Development approaches like the Waterfall model took several months for completion, where the customers would not be able to see the product until the end of the development cycle. On the other hand, the Agile approach is broken down into sprints or iterations which are shorter in duration during which certain predetermined features can be developed and delivered. There are multiple iterations and after every iteration, the software team can deliver a working product. The features and enhancements are planned and delivered for every succeeding iteration after discussions (negotiations?) between the business and the development teams.
In other words, Agile is focused on iterative development, where the requirements and solutions are developed because of collaboration between cross-functional and self-organizing software teams.

What is DevOps?

This is the age of Cloud and SaaS products. That being the case, DevOps can be defined as a set of practices enabling automation of processes between the software development and the IT teams for building, testing, and deploying the software in a faster and more efficient manner. DevOps is based on cross-functional collaboration and involves automation and monitoring right from the integration, testing, releasing, and deployment along with the management of infrastructure.

In short, DevOps helps in improving collaboration and productivity by integrating the developers and the operations team. Typically, DevOps calls for an integrated team comprising developers, system administrators, and testers. Often, Testers turned into DevOps engineers are assigned the end-to-end responsibility of managing the application software. This may involve everything from gathering requirements to development, deployment, and gathering user feedback to implementing the final changes.

How do they compare (or contrast)?

  • Creating and deployment of software:
    Agile is purely a software development process. That means, the development of software is an inherent part of the agile methodology. Whereas Devops can deploy software which may have being developed using other methodologies, based on either Agile or non-agile approaches.
  • Planning and documentation:
    The Agile method is based on developing new versions and updates during regular sprints (a time frame decided by the team members). Besides, daily informal meetings are key to the Agile approach, where team members are encouraged to share progress, set goals, and ask for assistance if required. To that extent, the emphasis on documentation is less.

On the other hand, DevOps teams may not have daily or regular meetings but plenty of documentation is required for proper communication across the teams for effective deployment of the software.

  • Scheduling activities and team size:
    Agile is based on working in short and pre-agreed sprints. Traditionally sprints can last for a week to 1 month or so at the extreme. The team sizes are also relatively smaller as they can work faster with fewer individuals working on the effort.
    DevOps can comprise of several teams using different models such as Kanban, Waterfall model, or scrum where all of them are required to come together for discussing regarding software deployment. These teams could be larger and are by design much more cross-functional.
  • Speed and risk:
    Agile releases, while frequent, are significantly less than what DevOps teams aim for. There are DevOps products out there that release versions with new features multiple times in an HOUR! The application framework and structure in Agile approach needs to be solid to incorporate the rapid changes. As the iterative process involves regular changes to the architecture, it’s necessary to be aware of every change related to the risks to ensure quick and speedy delivery. This is true of DevOps also, but the risk of breaking previous iterations is far greater in DevOps as the releases are much more frequent and follow much faster on the heels of one another than in the Agile approach.

Conclusion

DevOps is a reimagining of the way in which the software needs to be configured and deployed. It adds a new dimension to the sharp end of the value chain of software development i.e the delivery to the customers. There is some talk about that that DevOps will replace Agile, but our view is that DevOps complements Agile by streamlining deployment to enable faster, more effective, and super-efficient delivery to the end users. That’s a worthy goal –so why choose between the two!

How Analytics Will Make Test Automation Even More Intelligent?

Testing is a ripe field for applying AI because testing is fundamentally about inputs and expected outputs…… Testing combines lots of human and machine-generated data. Folks in testing often don’t have much exposure to AI, but that will change quickly, just like everyone else in the world is waking up to the power of AI.” – Jason Arbon, Author, and CEO of test.ai

We could say that automated software testing is essentially a quality control system that vets the operational aspects of a software product. The aim is to create a testing process that is rigorous and that operates through one or multiple test automation frameworks. Typically, upon completion, the tools report the results and compare outcomes with previous testing cycles. This is the age of Big Data and Analytics – it stands to reason that innovators have developed intelligent analytics solutions that offer insights designed to translate these test results into actionable information for future improvement. These solutions proactively identify problem areas in the testing process and indicate the way forward to achieve a high-quality software product. Let’s take a closer look at how analytics can help test automation.

How Analytics Will Make Test Automation Even More Intelligent?

Use of Analytics

In this context, analytics enables software developers to critically evaluate the performance of their test automation. They can track the various metrics and parameters involved in the creation of the test automation and the performance of the automated software testing exercise. Error logs embedded in the dashboard can spotlight the areas of improvement. Similarly, data about the number and the kind of functions that pass muster indicate the health of the software product that is being tested. The final status of the test results presents a perfect picture of the state of functionalities of the tested software. The graphical representations in the analytics dashboard portray a clear picture of testing outcomes that is easy to read and understand for everyone.

Predictive Analytics:

This aspect of analytics uses mathematical algorithms and machine learning technologies to forecast outcomes of software testing procedures. This technique uses current and past data to generate insights and locate potential points of failure in software testing outcomes. This enables the development and testing leaders to proactively address issues early in the lifecycle, and hence faster and easier. The use of predictive analytics also helps to detect delays and issues in software testing cycles. It also helps to monitor team productivity in testing cycles that involve human beings. Software developers can also run risk mitigation efforts when they use predictive analytics in testing procedures.

Benefits of Analytics in Testing:

Analytical reports draw on data that resides in multiple sources. This helps to present a more complete picture in real-time. The insights are clear and present, the actions to be taken are apparent, and the results can be tracked. The granular nature of the feedback generated by analytics should help software designers and testers to correct specific errors and the speed up slow processes.

The application of analytics should help software testing systems to overcome traditional or legacy limitations. The visual depiction of data in test performance and test history charts creates significant grounds to improve the testing procedures of the future. It is true that even today, automated software testing may fail for a variety of reasons, but the judicious application of analytics can increase the utility and the chances of success. In addition, interactive analytics-driven dashboards can offer enhanced monitoring and reporting capabilities for software testers and software developers. Further, analytics helps to expand the productivity of complex software testing tools while boosting the productivity of the testing team. This can help to release higher-quality products faster and more often.

The combination of test automation and advanced analytics will enable software development and testing managers to spend more time on strategic activities that drive greater business value over a longer term.

The Future of Automation in Testing:

Enterprises today are driving a relentless focus on quality. Current and future products are undergoing design changes that will make them even more intuitive and easy to use. The user interfaces will be the most critical aspect and they must be tested for reliable operation at all times. The deployment of analytics should help software developers and designers to better test software and create perfect products for clients. Intelligent observations and business insights derived from analytics will drive better, more targeted actions. Therefore, testing strategies and test plans will be refined and re-engineered to create greater scope for analytics in automation. It’s all set to be the and analytics-driven automated age in software testing – are your plans ready?

Are you ready for Robotic Process Automation?

I’d say that the biggest misconception about RPA is that it’s easy—It’s not easy. That’s why barely 10% of the buyer population in Global 2000 companies have embraced it.” – Frank Casale, founder, and CEO of the Institute for Robotic Process Automation and Artificial Intelligence (IRPA AI)

Given that warning, it would make sense to assess the internal readiness and capacity of your company before adopting or even considering RPA technology. RPA, or robotic process automation, sometimes conjures up images of a solution that helps with cognitive computing. While that may represent the ultimate level of artificial intelligence that exists, solutions that are being developed in the present focus more on automating repeatable, predictable, and fixed business processes. When we speak about enterprises, this technology is still perhaps hard to implement, but experts say that those that do adopt RPA will rapidly see the immense benefits. For companies, it could mean a winning strategy for all the stakeholders – employees included. Let us look in-depth into the possible benefits of embracing RPA.

Are you ready for Robotic Process Automation?

Firstly – what is Robotic Process Automation?

With the surge in digitization and the increasing demand on the already limited resources, the push towards adopting automation technology has now become a necessity. Technology adoption would help to empower organizations and accelerate their efforts towards gaining more business and staying ahead of their competition. Robotic Process Automation is specifically made software that is capable of simulating human conducted activities that would be routine and repetitive in nature. The software “robots” follow designated workflows, seeking information from clearly identified sources and then performing routine yet critical operations. The functions impacted could include back-office processing, support, and front office management. Today, several companies have begun using these solutions with resounding success.

Benefits of Robotic Process Automation to Organizations:

  1. RPA is best for transactional or rule-bound processes and for organizing data. Using robotic technology companies have a reduced effort and even lowered full-time equivalent employee (FTE) requirement.
  2. By incorporating RPA into the rules of business, companies would be able to simplify processes, conduct speedier transactions, maintain uniformity in their documentation, and afford complete transparency of their processes. These factors incidentally are among the top priorities for customers today, which therefore would lead to enhanced business and success.
  3. Using RPA reduces the opportunities for human error in rote tasks, and limits the exposure of sensitive and confidential information to humans – critical for the proper functioning of any company.
  4. Several companies require huge amounts of data to be added to various systems and myriad applications. Manual data entry is prone to errors especially given the mundane nature of the task. By using RPA in this process, companies can be sure of increased output of work with no errors, thereby removing the requirement of extra headcount to check and correct the errors. Re-work is eliminated as well.
  5. Since several tasks can be completed in less time and at a lowered cost, the ROI of the initiative can be achieved relatively quickly.
  6. Since RPA is a software, it has endless possibilities and capacity to work – meaning around the clock availability and work churned out. This means a lot more work with no interruptions or breaks.

Where Robotic Process Automation Stops

These RPA-driven software robots are capable of making only limited decisions and the cognitive ability is extremely constrained. In some ways, the primary objective is significantly improving the efficiency, not really the effectiveness. That’s to say, RPA allows organizations to perform these functions faster, with less effort, utilizing fewer human resources, and with greater accuracy. That said, if there is ambiguity about the inputs or if there is volatility in the functions to be addressed or the business processes are extremely fluid and dynamic, RPA is less likely to be successful.

A Bright Future for RPA

It has been said often that the downside of cognitive artificial intelligence is that it would reduce the number of jobs and dislodge employees from their roles. RPA on the other hand empowers employees by allowing them to engage in more creative and value-added tasks and removing the dull, rote ones.

Well-designed RPA solutions have this distinct advantage – companies can embrace them without the need to dismiss employees or spend too many resources in training them on the solutions. The great part of RPA is that it requires human supervision, placing control in the hands of the employees, thereby raising their morale, enhancing their development, and making them more productive on the job. Different types of organizations are already tasting success in areas like:

  • Government: Verifying existing processes; populating forms and assigning subcontractors to jobs, and integrating legacy systems with newer systems.
  • HR: Providing employee on-boarding; better managing leave of absence requests; more efficiently populating employee data into multiple systems, and offering performance appraisal management.
  • IT: Creating new accounts; installing software and updates more seamlessly, and setting up printers and workstations.

Conclusion:

It is probably time to integrate RPA solutions into your company, and the good news is technologies, including strategies borrowed from test-automation, are already at hand to seamlessly draw RPA into your business processes. Are you ready, is the question?

Challenges faced by the Agile testing team

Agile model is one of the trending and widely used software development approach based on the combination of incremental and iterative development, where software product is being continuous delivered in short and multiple cycles.

What is agile testing?

Agile testing is a testing approach based on agile principles of software development. In agile testing, continuous testing is being carried out with less or no documentation and regular feedbacks and reviews from the client/customers to improve software quality.
Further, agile testing methodology has following advantages:

  • Better and effective communication, as agile development involves the participation of developers, testers and client/customers, all at one platform.
  • With the collaboration of development team with the testing, defects are easy to locate and fix.
  • Incorporation of dynamic changing requirements.

Although, agile testing has certain advantages, which may attract a tester to follow and implement agile testing practices, but carrying out agile testing is not simple as it seems to be. Testers who have been the part of the agile testing team are very well aware of the challenges faced during agile testing.

Let’s put some light on the top 7 challenges faced by agile testing team during agile testing:

  1. Insufficient Test Coverage:The continuous incoming and changing requirements increases the chance of missing out the testing of essential or critical functionalities and features. Further, short cycles and continuous delivery mechanism of agile model may force and drive testers to consider and test only critical functionalities and leaving behind all other major/minor functionalities untested.
  2. Lack of documentation:Although, less or no documentation is one of the features of agile testing, still the non-availability of documentation work puts testing team in a difficult situation to verify and validate the software functioning in the absence of documentation work.
  3. Dynamic changing requirements:Frequently incoming and changing requirements after each iteration changes or modifies the software either in large or in small respect and irrespective of the changes brought, the system has to made go through regression testing to verify and validate the originality of the system. Thus, apart from regular testing, creating regression tests and executing them after each iteration increases the burden of the testing team.
  4. Last minute changes:Incorporation of incoming and changing requirements is an inherited feature of the agile methodology. The mechanism of the agile methodology lies itself on the fact that requirements would be evolved gradually with the collaboration of all teams including business team with the client/customers.However, when testing is about to close and product is ready for its market release, at that moment of time introduction of any more changing requirements is intolerable for the testers, especially when the deadlines are approaching.
  5. Performance parameter:As in agile methodology, software application gradually develops, complexity also increases gradually. Thus, performance issues with the software arises as the developers are not able to assess the performance attribute from end-user perspective.
  6. Tools selection:Selecting appropriate and desired automation tools for automating the tests not at early stage of development but in the later half is one of the major challenges faced by the agile testing team, as selecting tools for agile environment is much different to that for traditional approach of development.
  7. Communication:Although, development teams and client/customers collaboratively interacts after each iteration, still agile environment perceives the lack of proper communication due to absence of any effective communication medium or may be the absence of any sort of documentation.

Complete Bug Triage Meeting Process.

Let’s break this term and understand their meanings separately to derive the concept of bug triage. Bug is a common term, which you all must be aware of. In software engineering, the term ’bug’ has been assigned to flaws or errors present in the software application or programming which produces deviation in its intended functioning, resulting into incorrect or inappropriate or unexpected outcomes and results.

Now, what is triage? Wikipedia says “Triage is the process of determining the priority of patients’ treatments based on the severity of their condition”. Similar concept is applicable to bugs found during software testing also i.e. to conclude the priority of defects based on their severity. In simple words, bug triage may be defined as a process or mechanism to determine the defect priority with respect to their severity to impact the software functionalities and working.

Now, coming to the topic of discussion i.e. bug triage meeting process. As the name specifies, a project meeting held for the purpose of triage process i.e. sorting out the priority of open bugs, when it needs to be fixed, how to fix it, efforts and difficulty in retesting.

Who are the Participants in the Bug Triage Meeting?

Generally, the meeting is held by the Cross functional team consisting of QA group, project manager, QA manager, test manager, product manager and testing leads of all projects along with the participation of experienced and competent team members.

When to go for the meeting for Bug Triage Meeting?

Bug triage meeting should be carried out on a regular basis throughout the testing life cycle. Number of meetings and the gap between each of them is derived by the need and requirement of the project. Adding to this, the quantity of defects reported, time schedule and progress of the project may also paves the path for the meeting.

What are Roles and Responsibilities of each Individuals in the meeting?

  • Project Manager: Project manager is involved in the task of defect prioritization with the additional responsibilities of sending meeting minutes, tracking issues and discussing the next possible date of meeting in consultation with the QA leads.
  • Product Manager: Generally, assists the team in the process of prioritizing the defects.
  • Test Lead: Test lead or QA lead are the ones who call the meeting. They are involved in the task of defect prioritization. Further, they have the responsibilities to submit bug report to cross functional team prior to meeting, managing defects and distribution of updated bug report.
  • Development Lead: Assists in the task of bug prioritization by analysing and assessing the severity of each bug to impact system. Further, involvement of developers in the meeting helps in locating the root cause of the defects, and subsequently bugs are assigned to desired developer for its correction.

What are the activities carried out in the Bug Triage meeting?

Prior to bug triage meeting, previous status report along with the bugs found in the current phase is being sent to all concerned members by the QA Leads. Further, bug triage meeting usually involves execution of following activities:

  • Ensuring that the identified bug has sufficient and useful information to convince developer(s) it as a bug.
  • Correct filing of the bug.
  • Bug is defined on the basis of appropriate severity and priority.
  • Consideration of defects for their fixation which may be derived by following two factors:
  • If project is at its initial stage, then all bugs, even the lowest priority ones may be included for the correction process.
  • If the project is approaching deadlines or is in the final stage, then only high priority bugs, having high risk needs to be considered for the fixation process.
  • Reassigning the bug priority and severity, and accordingly updating bug tracking system.
  • Post meeting, the minutes of the meeting is being distributed to the concerned members.

Bug Triage Report Format:

Below given is a basic template of a bug triage report which may modified with the needs and requirements arises.

  • ID
  • Headline
  • Reported Date
  • Submitted by
  • Severity
  • Priority(fix)
  • Owner
  • Status

When to conclude this meeting?

Prioritizing each opened bug with the task of assigning the defects to the concerned person marks the ending of the meeting.

Conclusion:

Overall, it may be stated bug triage meeting is an effective approach to manage and fix defects throughout the testing life cycle.

Here’s Shift Left Testing – But Should You?

As we dive deeper into the software economy the role of software testing becomes ever-more important. After all, there is hardly any place for buggy or defective products in this software-driven world. Today, concepts like driverless cars, hovering drones, manufacturing automation etc. are all a reality not just because of technological advancements buts also because of the immense emphasis on the quality of testing. Testing, that was once relegated to the end of the development cycle has now changed completely owing to the rise of development methodologies such as DevOps and Agile. Now it is a key enabler of robust and solid product development. As the testing process becomes more integrated with the development process and becomes more continuous throughout the development lifecycle, we meet another testing approach. Welcome ‘Shift-left testing’.

Shift left testing approach

Shift-Left Testing – An introduction

When the software development industry was using the traditional waterfall development approach, testing was kept on the extreme right side of the software development lifecycle. This development approach looked something like this:

Requirement gathering -> Design -> Coding -> Testing

With software testing being on the extreme right, bug detection happened at the very end of the development lifecycle. As a direct consequence, the time, effort and money spent to rectify bugs and errors became enormous. In many cases, it also led to delayed product releases and missed opportunities. As organizations realized that defects and errors were less costly to fix when detected early, the concept of Shift-Left testing was introduced. This concept essentially shifted testing from the far right, i.e. from the end of the development lifecycle and was introduced at every stage of the development lifecycle.

In Shift-Left testing, testing teams collaborate with the stakeholders involved in software product development earlier in the development process. With this approach, the testing teams are able to understand requirements, expected functionalities, software design and architecture, coding etc. to gain complete product knowledge. They can draw up thorough testing plans that consider all the possible scenarios to identify software defects.

Shift-Left testing and its relevance in today’s software development landscape.

Today development cycles are becoming more iterative and involve shorter sprints. Development methodologies today such as Agile and DevOps demand faster feedback and continuous development and deployment to meet the changing needs of a volatile market. With the Shift-left approach, the development and testing teams run in tandem and ensure that all defects are fixed on the go. In fact, unless testing is involved in each step of the development process, these new methodologies will not be able to deliver on their promise – that of releasing great quality software products into the market, faster. Shift-Left testing allows software development companies release new software any time during the development process. In essence, this allows frequent product upgrades to meet the changing needs of the user.

The benefits of Shift-Left testing:

Shift-Left testing promises better software quality.

Let’s see how.

  1. Comprehensive testing from the word ‘go’:

    The Shift-Left testing approach is as rigorous as it is aggressive. Since the testing process is introduced right at the beginning of the testing process, testing teams are better equipped to create more comprehensive tests that cover every aspect of the product in production. A much-quoted study said that “56% of defects originate during the requirement phase of the project as compared to a meager 7% during the coding phase”. With the Shift-Left approach, the attention to quality begins right at the inception. Testers can ensure that the software gets tested for each and every functionality and performance aspect. Enhanced test coverage automatically translates to better quality software that is commercially more viable.

  2. Effective and faster bug resolution:

    With Shift-Left testing, bugs can be identified earlier in the development process as testing becomes a proactive contributor to the development lifecycle. The software thus is open to review and to rectification right from the beginning. When bugs are identified earlier they can be fixed faster. This consequently increases the speed of development.

  3. Better product development:

    Shift-Left testing takes the main stakeholders of product development, the developers, the testers, the business heads etc. and ensures a collaborative approach to product development. With a better understanding of what the product is expected to accomplish and who it is targeted towards, testing teams can create better and more comprehensive test plans. This ensures better quality of the product in production while eliminating the frictional differences between teams.

  4. Faster time-to-market:

    As the key stakeholders of software development work in a collaborative manner in the Shift-Left testing approach, it aids the velocity of development too. The development teams are able to resolve bugs and defects proactively in the development process. This means that the number of bugs and defects to be fixed at the end of the development process and the ensuing regression testing to ensure that all connected parts of the software are operating as designed is reduced considerably. This ensures speed of development -the products can be released in the market faster.

Conclusion:

The idea of Shift-Left testing is not just to introduce testing earlier in the development process. It is also about combining the right set of tools, methodologies, frameworks, and approaches to enable predictability, and the detection and prevention of defects from the beginning to the end of the project. This enables agility and boosts productivity. The result should be a better product, released faster, and eventually greater profitability.

Software Trends You Should Be Excited About In 2018

2017 was an exciting time to be in the software product development and testing space. We witnessed the rise of DevOps as a solid development methodology, saw Agile become more mature, and the establishment of test automation as an essential to the success of any software development methodology. Iterative software development emerged as the enabler of delivering high-quality software and this resulted in generating greater customer satisfaction. 2018 promises to be no less transformational in the world of software development. Here’s a list of things that we are, and you should also be keeping an eye on in 2018.

Software Trends You Should Be Excited About In 2018

  1. Artificial Intelligence:

    While AI has made its presence felt in our lives in the form of Siri and Cortana, 2018 will witness AI influencing development and testing too. Right from conceptualization to software development and testing, and deployment and maintenance the AI impact is expected to be quite pronounced in 2018. Using AI, developers can create better software by creating richer functionalities that are more user responsive. The use of AI in software testing is also going to be quite tangible. With the use of AI, testing teams will be able to better optimize test automation cases, validate hard to process artifacts, simplify complex tasks, and create intelligent test scripts that are adaptive in nature -amongst other things.

  2. Progressive Web Apps:

    2018 is also looking like the year of Progressive Web Apps. Introduced by Google in 2015, PWA’s got a lukewarm reception in 2016. 2017 saw these apps gradually gain momentum as they presented a potential alternative to designing a native mobile app. Presently there are over 6.5 billion apps for download while the corresponding number for regular app use is on the decline according to Statista. As the number of mobile apps increase but lose their appeal, PWA’s present themselves as the next big hope for the mobile web. PWA’s makes use of the latest technologies to combine the best of web and mobile applications. These are more reliable, load quickly, respond faster, and provide an immersive UX all while being more maintainable.

  3. Single Page Application (SPA):
    Single Page Applications or SPAs continue to climb up the popularity charts. Initially used to build the private dashboard portions of SaaS platforms or Internet services, SPAs based on JavaScript will continue to rise in popularity in 2018. This is driven by the sense that they are high performance, reduce development time, and are device agnostic. While it still might be too early to assess the likely success levels, the growing popularity of SPAs in the development circles is already visible.

  4. Automation and Continuous Testing:
    Continuous testing is all set to become an overarching theme in 2018. This is owing to the accelerating shift towards DevOps, continuous delivery, agile etc. With this, we will see an increase in automation in the software testing space. We are sure to witness test automation become a first-class citizen in the age of digital transformation. As continuous delivery pipelines along with running software and services become an omnichannel business, software development and testing companies will want an even greater convergence of testing tools. In 2018, we can expect to see this convergence of functional test automation tools with mobile front-end test automation tools. These companies will no longer want to use one tool for running functional tests for browsers and other environments and another for mobile environments.
  5.  Motion UI:
    Web design trends in 2018 are all about being more cutting edge. As web design becomes more dynamic, smooth animation becomes a design imperative. In 2017, we saw Motion UI gain rapid popularity. This was because it gave developers the capacity to animate content faster and with greater ease without any in-depth knowledge of jQuery or JavaScript. Motion UI helps in capturing the attention of the user by easily adding movement and drama elements to pages.

Conclusion:

Along with all this, we could also expect to see the further evolution of strategies to engage the users more. An example in 2018 could be chatbots based on artificial intelligence to increase the efficacy of online communication.
2018 promises to be an important year in the software development business as software begins to touch our lives and work in every possible way. Clearly, technology is all set to embed itself in everything we do as almost all businesses become software driven. As the way people and companies use software changes – can the way we develop software afford to stand by the wayside and ignore the change?

There’s a Transformation Underway in Test Automation – Here’s What To Look For

The change in software development methodologies has not only impacted the manner in which software products are developed but have also turned software testing and QA on its head. Today, testing is not a solitary function anymore. Organizations now realize the role of great testing in the development of robust, high quality, and error-free software. This has increased the potential impact area of testing. As applications grow in complexity the test automation market experiences change as well. Here’s a look at the transformation that is underway in test automation:

Transformation in Test-Automation

  1. Increased Focus On Mobile Testing:
    With the number of mobile devices increasing consistently and the consequent ‘appification’ of the economy, the focus on mobile testing is only going to increase. Mobile application testing will continue to focus on performance, functionality, usability, compatibility and security testing. As the market for mobile devices continues to expand, mobile test automation will likely out-run cross-browser test automation. The growth of the open-source frameworks, the emergence of Mobile DevOps, and the app economy will contribute to the expansion of mobile test automation.

  2. Shift-Left Testing: 
    Shift-left testing is on its way to becoming a standard in the testing industry. As development mythologies such as Agile and DevOps mature, as does the complexity of software products and applications, the need to test early and test often become critical. We are increasingly witnessing software organizations lean towards Shift-Left testing where the testing process starts early in the development cycle. The objective of Shift-Left testing is to start testing right from the requirement phase itself to reduce the cost of bug identification. The adoption of Shift-Left testing is also dovetailing into Test Driven Development and Behaviour Driven Development. The aim? To develop error-free products without delays.

  3. The rise of Microservices testing:
    Instead of developing monolithic pieces of software, organizations are developing software that comprised smaller pieces. This independent and decoupled architecture a.k.a Microservices reduces inter-modular dependencies and enables faster releases along with ensuring scalability and manageability. Testing these applications can become quite complex. Hence the demand for enhanced levels of test automation and an increased focus on API testing.

  4. Focus on testing of SOA architectures:
    Testing of the web services and SOA architectures in today’s age of complex application integrations has become extremely important. Test automation initiatives have to focus on checking the end-to-end performance of applications. The aim is to ensure that the interconnected systems and parts communicate efficiently with one another and generate the expected response.

  5. End-to-end lifecycle automation:
    Test automation is ready to move out of the confines of functional test automation. There is a rise of web services, API’s and a growing data reliance. This demands end-to-end lifecycle automation. Automation of everything across the entire software lifecycle is becoming a necessity.

  6. Unification of collaboration tools:
    With collaboration becoming an imperative in the software development lifecycle, the growing need is for speed as well as agility. Developers, QA, operations engineers, and testers are looking at a unification of collaboration tools. Instead of using a separate set of tools according to the roles, to increase the effectiveness of testing initiatives and improve collaboration between teams, these teams will now be able to use the same set of tools and IDE’s.

  7. The DevOps impact on testing:
    Testing is increasingly feeling the DevOps impact. And this is only going to grow over the next year. We can expect to see a greater merging of roles of testing experts with developers and operational engineers. This is due to the rising need for collaboration in developing superior quality products and to accommodate the continuous agile cycles. This will also demand an increase in test automation as the need for continuous updates for quality and continuous integrations, rises in the development lifecycle.

  8. The move from performance testing to performance engineering:
    In order to drive user experiences, performance testing will make a shift towards performance engineering. The focus will be more on ensuring consistent application performance across different platforms, mobile devices, and operating systems. The demand for better user experiences and an increased focus on UX will further drive this shift from performance testing towards performance engineering. This approach will not only confirm that the software meets the performance requirements but will also ensure that the cost of development goes down.

  9. AI meets test automation:
    The adoption of Artificial Intelligence is gaining momentum. Software testing too is expected to become a playing field for AI. The use of AI in test automation will be to make the testing suites more intelligent, validate hard to process artefacts, automatically create test scenarios, and help test automation tools develop a learning approach. AI can do the heavy lifting in test automation and help testing teams generate possibly 100 times more test coverage and improve app performance by increasing testing performance.

Conclusion:

2016 and 2017 witnessed some major defining moments in the software testing landscape. We saw the role of testing become dominant in the development lifecycle. It has now been widely accepted that software testing and development cannot function in isolation if the end objective is to create a reliable and robust software product. In 2018 we can expect testing and test automation to continue with this evolution as new technologies and development methodologies emerge. The question for those of us in the software development game is – will we be ready?

Succeeding at test automation

The 5 Secrets Of Succeeding at Test Automation.

The report Testing Trends in 2017 – A Survey of Software Professionals” showed that an increasing number of development teams are deploying software faster – 14% doing so hourly, up from 10% last year. Clearly, to enable this pace of deployment the speed of testing has to increase too so that bug fixes can be faster and the feedback loop can be shortened. Perhaps, the prime enabler of faster testing is test automation and hence software development companies are focused on strengthening their test automation initiatives. Reports are that the test automation market is all set to expand at a CAGR of 15.4% from 2017 to 2025 to hit US$ 109.69 billion by 2025.

Having said this, test automation is no magic wand that can be simply waved to cure all testing related ills. Automation initiatives also demand investment, so there is increased pressure on organizations to ensure the ROI of these initiatives. In this blog, we look at the 5 secrets to ensuring test automation success.

  1. Align testing with business goals:
    First, it is essential to align testing with the expected business goals of the software application or service under development. Taking a requirement-driven approach that addresses all functional and non-functional needs of the software, and discussing these needs with the development team is essential to develop a relevant testing suite. Testers must also ensure maximum code coverage through smart test design that not only tests the boundary considerations using multiple test cases but also ensures thorough and detailed test coverage of the codes that implement the requirement.
  2. Optimal utilization of all testing and QA assets:Manual testers, automation engineers, domain experts, and product owners are also key QA assets along with test cases, test data and the testing infrastructure. While many might feel that manual testers are no longer relevant when test automation is implemented, this is not true. There are certain tests such as exploratory testing that can only be done by manual testers. Remember that test automation cannot test for everything. It is essential to rely on manual testers to identify problems at a contextual level since automated scripts are restricted by boundaries. Similarly, automation engineers should be employed to ensure that the right test automation technologies are being used, the scope of automation is well-defined and that the test preparation is such that it hastens the testing process.
    Testing teams should also take into consideration the expertise of domain experts and product owners. They can give a deeper understanding of how the user wants the software to perform and what needs it must fulfill. Test cases and test data are other areas of focus that improve the quality of test automation initiatives by ensuring comprehensive coverage of all testing scenarios. It is essential to pay close attention to the testing infrastructure for better software testing, downtime management, and utilization management.
  3. Focus on ‘what’ to test as much as ‘how’ to test:Some test automation initiatives fail because organizations look at achieving 100% automation. For the success of test automation, testing teams need to first identify the right candidates for automation. As a thumb rule, testing teams should identify those that are repetitive in the development cycle, identify the development environment, and validate the functionalities across this environment. Those tests that are repeatable and have to be done often such as functional testing, regression testing, unit testing, integration testing, smoke testing, and performance testing are more likely automation candidates.
  4. Treat the test suite like a product:To stay in step with today’s dynamic business environment, organizations have to keep product evolution in mind. This suggests that as the software product evolves the test suite has to evolve too – just like a product would. Therefore, testing professionals should analyze their test suite carefully and identify test plans that will stay relevant in the long run and which test plans will become redundant. Changing the entire test suite in the event of a product upgrade is impossible. Instead of having a monolithic test plan it makes greater sense to have more modular test plans. A modular test plan that is built using smaller and independent test cases ensures that if one test fails then the entire test suite does not come tumbling down and that if something breaks in one test then only that one segment can be changed and you don’t have to change all the scripts associated with it. Along with this, testing teams should also focus on the maintenance needs of the test automation suite and chart its lifecycle to determine its maintenance needs. Testing teams should also focus on creating automation suites that are resistant to changes in the UI to ensure that the suite can work with future versions of the product.
  5. Integrate testing with development:The aim of test automation is to speed up development, increase code coverage, and assist in keeping timeline overruns under control. To achieve this, it is essential to place testing at the heart of software development for better testing and faster delivery. As more and more organizations are adopting development methodologies such as DevOps and Agile, it becomes all the more essential to be ready with all the components of your test automation strategy before the development process begins. This will ensure the success of the test automation initiative and that the final product matches the expectations of the user.

In closing, here’s a bonus tip! Testing teams should not be lax when designing the testing code as the quality of your testing code will impact the testing process. b, robust, and quality code will ensure that the testing code becomes an asset for future use while ensuring the success of the existing test automation initiative.

Now that you are equipped with 5 secrets to Test Automation success, it’s time to go out and look at your initiatives – and make them work for you!

performance testing consideration

The Top 10 Performance Testing Considerations

Today’s digital consumer has no time for slow, error-prone apps or applications that crash when the load is high. Sadly, there are abundant examples of websites and portals crashing under the weight of heavy traffic. Target, Amazon and other such giants have been subject to crashes that have resulted in the loss of millions on their big sale days. The banking industry too has been subject to these crashes. In recent times, customers of banks such as Barclays, RBS, couldn’t access their banking mobile app since their sites were experiencing major traffic on payday. However, such events can dent the confidence of customers and ultimately have a negative impact on the bottom line. This is why thorough performance testing is essential.

What is Performance Testing?

Performance testing measures validates and verifies the quality attributes of the system such as responsiveness, scalability, stability, and speed under a variety of load conditions and varying workloads.

The Types of Performance Testing are:

  1. Load Testing –
    Testing to check the system with incrementally increasing load in the form of concurrent users and increasing transactions. Done to assess the behavior of the application under test, till the load reaches its threshold value.
  2. Stress Testing –
    Testing to check the stability of the software when hardware resources are not sufficient.
  3. Spike Testing –
    Testing to validate performance characteristics when the system under test is subjected to varying workloads and load volumes that are increased repeatedly beyond anticipated production operations for short time periods.
  4. Endurance Testing –
    This is a non-functional testing and involves the testing of a system with expected load amounts over long time periods to assess system behavior.
  5. Scalability Testing –
    Testing to determine at what peak level the system will stop scaling.
  6. Volume Testing –
    This tests the application with a large volume of data to check its efficiency and monitors the application performance under varying database volumes.

While undertaking performance testing, these top 10 considerations need to be kept in mind:

  1. Test Early And Test Often:
    Leaving performance testing as an afterthought is a recipe for testing disaster. Instead of conducting Performance testing late in the development cycle, it should take the agile approach and be iterative throughout the development cycle. This way the performance gaps can be identified faster and earlier in the development cycle.
  2. Focus On Users Not Just Servers:
    Since it is real people that use software applications, it is essential to focus on the users while conducting performance testing along with focusing on the results of servers and clusters running the software. Along with measuring the performance metrics of clustered servers, testing teams should also focus on user interface timings and per-user experience of performance.
  3. Create Realistic Tests:
    Assessing how a software application will respond in a real-world scenario is essential to ensure the success of performance testing. Thus, creating realistic tests that keep variability in mind and taking into consideration the variety of devices and client environments to access the system is essential. Also important is mixing up device and client environment load, varying the environment and data, and ensuring that load simulations do not start from zero.
  4. Performance is Relative:
    Performance might mean something to you and something else to the user. Users are not sitting with a stopwatch to measure load time. What the users want is to get useful data fast and for this, it is essential to include the client processing time when measuring load times.
  5. Correlating Testing Strategy With Performance Bottlenecks:
    In order to be effective in performance testing creating a robust testing environment and gaining an understanding of the users perspective of performance is essential. It is also essential to correlate performance bottlenecks with the code that is creating these problems. Unless this is done problem remediation is difficult.
  6. Quantifying Performance Metrics:
    In order to assess the efficacy of the performance tests, testing teams need to define the right metrics to measure. While performance testing, teams should thus clearly identify:

    • The expected response time – Total time taken to send a request and get a response.
    • The average latency time.
    • The average load time.
    • The longest time taken to fulfill a request.
    • Estimated error rates.
    • The measure of active users at a single given point in time.
    • Estimated number of requests that should be handled per second.
    • CPU and memory utilization required to process a request.
  7. Test individual units separately and together :
    Considering that applications involve multiple systems such as servers, databases, and services, it is essential to test these units individually and together with varying loads. This will ensure that performance of the application remains unaffected with varying volumes. This also exposes weak links and helps testing teams identify which systems adversely affect the others and into which systems should be further isolated for performance testing.
  8. Define the Testing Environment:
    Doing a comprehensive requirement study, analyzing testing goals and defining the test objectives play a big role in defining the test environment. Along with this, testing teams should also take into consideration logical and physical production architecture, must identify the software, hardware, and network considerations, and compare the test and production environment when defining the testing environment needed.
  9. Focus on Test Reports:
    Test design and test execution are essential components of good performance testing but to understand which tests have been effective, which need to be reprioritized and which ones need to be executed again testing teams must focus on test reports. These reports should be systematically consolidated and analyzed and the test results should be shared, to communicate the results of the application behavior to all the invested stakeholders.
  10. Monitoring and Alerts:
    To ensure continuous peak performance, testing teams have to set up alert notifications that can intimate the right stakeholders if load times fall below normal or in the event of any other issue. This ensures proactive resolution of performance bottlenecks and guarantees good end user experience.

Along with these points, in order to be successful with performance testing, testing teams should utilize the right set of automation tools. These will help in fast-tracking testing initiatives with the least amount of effort, identify the right candidates for automation and create robust and reusable tests to further testing efforts. They should also have a defined troubleshooting plan that includes responses to known performance issues. Finally, testing teams should think outside the box and take into account a broad definition of performance that takes into account factors that users care about, the infrastructure needed to execute realistic tests and look at ways of collaborating with developers to create performance-driven software products. In a performance-driven world – shouldn’t your app have the strength to keep up?

Talk to Our Performance Expert Today

software testing and digital transformation

Will Software Testing Prove Digital Transformation’s Achilles Heel?

“MarketsandMarkets research estimates the global digital transformation market is expected to grow from $150.70 Billion in 2015 to $369.22 Billion by 2020

Digital Transformation is on everyone’s lips today. Companies across the globe are looking at opportunities to use technology to transform business processes, improve enterprise performance, and consequently achieve better business outcomes. We have seen the adoption of analytics, embedded devices, business process digitization, rise of RPA (Robotic Process Automation) etc. as some elements of the digitization drive. Improved business models and operational processes and enhanced customer experience are the three key areas of focus. Enterprises are leveraging technology heavily to remain relevant and ahead of the curve in today’s digital enterprise. According to Forrester Research, the top three drivers of digital transformation are improved customer experience, improved time to market and increased the speed of innovation. Thus, the fact that almost two-thirds of CEO’s of the top Global 2000 companies plan to put digital transformation at the heart of their corporate strategy by the end of 2017 hardly comes as a surprise.

Our contention is that given that the heavy lifting for pretty much all transformation initiatives is done by software-driven technology, these initiatives can only be successful if software testing gets its due place in the transformation cycle.

While a lot of importance is placed on increasing the level of automation within the enterprise and streamlining processes when embarking on the digital drive, far too many organizations ignore the role of testing in making these initiatives successful. Since digital transformation initiatives demand heavy investments organizations can justifiably claim the rewards of the transformation initiatives only when software testing ensures software that works exactly as intended.

One of the key elements of digital transformation is Business Process Automation. Using technology enabled automation, organizations are looking at simplifying and improving business workflows and increasing efficiencies. Business Process Automation reduces human error and helps businesses adapt to dynamic market demands faster. During BPA, organizations have to focus on infrastructural upgrades and identify redundant processes and replace them with newer, efficient processes. In this transition period, the role of QA and testing becomes indispensable. In order to ensure that the new processes deliver on the promise of greater productivity, efficiency, and reduced errors, and to guarantee the quality and stability of the process, it becomes imperative to test early and test often. By testing the new business processes, its components and application area thoroughly, organizations can confirm that all business rules and business logic are working correctly. Any defects or deviations in the same are recorded and suitably amended before the process is launched.

Along with improving business processes and workflows, organizations are embarking on digital transformation initiatives to improve customer experiences. Driving good customer experiences has always been an enabler of business success. The customer of today is more technologically informed, digitally savvy, and on the lookout for differentiated experiences. Organizations thus, have to ensure that the quality of their customer experience lives up to these expectations. In order to deliver experiences of the future, organizations have to ensure the flawless quality of their products, as well as of every interface the customer has with the organization in buying or using the product or service. Whether it is an application created for customer experience or improving processes to deliver high-quality products, organizations have to focus on testing to deliver on these metrics.

The role of testing becomes even more pronounced in digitization initiatives when it comes to security. While digital transformation initiatives do benefit the enterprise, inadequate testing and QA strategies can leave the applications exposed to hacks, bugs, and vulnerabilities. Business critical applications that contain customer sensitive data must have the highest level of security and cannot be subject to vulnerabilities and risks. Security breaches can cost organizations heavily and lead to loss of customer trust and consequently the loss of market share.

Organizations are embarking on digital transformation initiatives to create value both within the organization and for their customer. With a plethora of technologies at their disposal, organizations are spoilt for choice to build the right experiences and services. The main aim of digital transformation is to drive quality transformation. In their digital transformation journey, organizations will witness the need to adopt new age technologies and will witness many challenges in the process of implementing digital change. Integration of new technologies with existing platforms, the efficiency of new business applications, the implementation of new technologies within the new work culture etc. are just some of the challenges. There is also the growing dependence on the digital backbone that gets created – in a sense, there is no going back but this creates a single point of failure too. These challenges become inherently easier to manage if the organization focuses on building quality assessment models and metrics to measure the efficiency of the digital processes.

With the rise of the digital enterprise, software testing cannot remain confined to the realm of the development lifecycle alone. To enable seamless integration and working of software systems and processes as demanded by digital transformation, it is imperative that organizations ensure that strong QA and testing processes become a part of the transformation initiatives. Otherwise, software testing will prove to be the Achilles’ heel in digital transformation journeys.

Should Beta testers be Professional Testers?

Handing over the newly developed software application or system to its intended user or group of users to evaluate its functional and non-functional quality is a good move as the system’s functionalities would be executed by the end users from the user’s perspective in the real world environment and condition. This process of evaluating the quality of software quality by hands of its targeted users is generally termed as beta testing in software quality assurance process.

Beta testing phase marks the absence of professional testers and involves the participation of intended users. The primary advantage of performing beta testing both from technical and business perspective is that before the release of the software application, it is actually tested by the real users at a much lower cost compare to cost to be incurred on professional testers. Game testing is a live example of beta testing, where passionate and ardent gamers are invited to test the features and qualities of the beta version of the gaming application. Although, involvement of non-professional testers(end users) for testing the gaming application could be acceptable at some extent due to absence of multiple & larger functionalities, features and complexities, but may lacks quality testing for other types of software applications.

So, Should beta testers be professional testers?

It would be irrelevant to give judgement in favour or against the involvement of professional testers in beta testing as beta testers. Here, we are stating some advantage/pros of employing users and professional tester as beta tester in beta testing.

When beta tester is an user.

  • Evaluation and assessment of software application from user’s perspective.
  • Consistent focus and inquisitiveness to improve or correct the defects or issues imparting the need to improve quality from user’s perspective.
  • Most of the time, beta testers are the loyal users where they are affectionate by the organization or company’s brand, value or products. Therefore, they will be interested and sincere in their task of testing.
  • Less cost of testing the system.
  • Ultimately, it’s the customer who validates the system.

When beta tester is a professional tester

  • Involvement of professionalism, skills and experience.
  • Professional testers are well aware of the techniques, methods and tools to dig, explore and test each and every, minute and major features and functionalities.
  • User will find difficult to distinguish between a feature and a defect but not the professional testers.
  • Professional testers will be able to explain defects precisely and perfectly compared to user, to fix or correct the explored defect.
  • Professional testers can effectively write & describe the steps to reproduce defects, which may seems to be impossible for the users.
  • Sometimes, the user may not be available due to its commitment towards any other home or official work. However, Professional testers are bound to their roles and responsibilities with fixed hour of their duty.
  • Professional testers can make and know the usage of tools and devices to effectively and qualitatively test the system, which may seems to be infeasible from user side.
  • Professional tester helps in defining and stating the severity and priority of each identified bug, whereas a user will find difficult to relate bugs with the terms severity and priority.

Based on the above stated facts and points, you can yourself decide the answer to the question- “Should beta testers be professional testers?”

devops and CI

Achieving Assured Quality in DevOps With Continuous Testing

DevOps has finally ushered in the era of greater collaboration between teams. Organizations today realize that they can no longer work in siloes. To achieve the required speed of delivery, all invested in the software delivery process, the developers, the operations, business teams, and the QA and testing teams have to function as one consolidated and harmonious unit. DevOps provides organizations this new IT model and enables teams to become cross-functional and innovation focused. The conviction that DevOps helps organizations respond and adapt to market changes faster, shrinks product delivery timelines, and helps to deliver high-quality software products is reflected in the DevOps adoption figures. According to the Puppet State of DevOps Report, in 2016, 76% of the survey respondents adopted DevOps practices, up from 66% in 2015.

One of the hallmarks of the DevOps methodology is an increased emphasis on testing. The approach has shifted from the traditional method of adding incremental tests for each functionality at the end of each development cycle. The accepted way now is to take a top-down approach to mitigate both functional and non-functional requirements. To achieve this DevOps demands a greater testing emphasis on test coverage and automation. Testing in DevOps also has to start early in the development process to enable the DevOps methodology of Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery.

The Role of Testing in Continuous Delivery and Continuous Integration:

In order to deliver on the quality needs, DevOps demands that testing is integrated into the software development and delivery process and acts as a key driver of DevOps initiatives. Here, individual developers work to create code for features or for performance improvements and then have to integrate it with the unchanged team code. A unit test has to follow this exercise to ensure that the team code is functioning as desired. Once this process is complete, this consolidated code is delivered to the common integration area where all the working code components are assembled for Continuous Integration. Continuous Integration ensures that the code in production is well integrated at all levels and is functioning without error and is delivering on the desired functionalities.

Once this stage is complete, the code is delivered to the QA team along with the complete test data to start the Continuous Delivery stage. Here the QA runs its own suites of performance and functional tests on the complete application in its own production-like environment. DevOps demands that Continuous Integration should lead to Continuous Delivery in a steady and seamless manner so that the final code is always ready for testing. The need is to ensure that the application reaches the right environment continuously and can be tested continuously.

Using the staging environment, the Operations teams too have to run their own series of tests such as system stability tests, acceptance tests, and smoke tests, before the application is delivered to the production environment. All test data and scripts for previously conducted application and performance tests have to be provided to the operations teams so that ops can run its own tests comprehensively and conveniently. Only when this process is complete, the application is delivered to production. In Production, the operations team has to monitor that the application performance is optimal and the environment is stable by employing tools that enable end-to-end Continuous Monitoring.

If we look at the DevOps process closely we can see that while the aim is faster code delivery, the focus is even more on developing error free, ready for integration and delivery code by ensuring that the code is presented in the right state and to the right environment every time. DevOps identifies that the only way to achieve this is by having a laser sharp focus on testing along with making it an integrated part of the development methodology. In a DevOps environment, testing early, fast and often becomes the enabler of fast releases. This means that any failure in the development process is identified immediately and prompt corrective action can be taken by the invested stakeholders. Teams can fail fast and also recover quickly – and that is how to ensure Quality in DevOps.

Complete Guide to Penetration Testing

With the increasing cyber attacks in recent years, organizations have started focussing on security features of software applications & products. Despite, applying sincere and attentive efforts towards the development of safe and secure software applications, these software products gets lack into one or more than one security aspect or feature, owing to various tangible and intangible errors. Thus, it has become essential to explore each and every vulnerable area present in the application which may invite and provide opportunity to hackers and crackers in exploiting the system.

What is Penetration Testing?

Penetration testing is one of the useful testing methodologies to identify and reveal out vulnerable areas of the system, which may provide passage to number of unauthorized and malicious users or entities for intruding, attacking and compromising the system’s integrity & veracity.

The process of penetration testing involves the wilful and authorized attacks on the system in order to identify and spot the weaker areas of the system including security loopholes and gaps, vulnerable to multiple security threats and attacks. These revelations help in fixing various security bugs and issues in order to improve and ameliorate the security attributes.

In addition to its defined objectives, penetration testing approach may also be used to evaluate and assess the defensive power mechanism of the system; how strong or capable is the system to defend different types of unexpected malicious attacks?

What are the Reasons for System’s Vulnerabilities?

Number of activities contributes towards the occurrence of security vulnerabilities in the system such as:

  • Designing Error: Flaws in the design may be seen as one of the most prominent factors for the occurrence of security loopholes and gaps in a system.
  • Configurations and settings: Sometimes, inappropriate setting and configuration of associated hardware and software may results in introduction of vulnerabilities in the system.
  • Network Connectivity: Safe and secure network connection prevents the incident of malicious and cyber attacks, whereas insecure network provides gateway to hackers for assaulting the system.
  • Human Error: To err is human; Mistakes committed intentionally or unintentionally by the individual or by the team, while designing, deploying or maintaining system or network may also lead to occurrence of security glitches in the system.
  • Communication: Improper and open communication of confidential data and information amongst the teams or the individual using internet, phone, mail or any other mean also leads to security vulnerabilities.
  • Complexity: It is easy to monitor and control security mechanism of a simple & sober looking network infrastructure, whereas it is difficult to trace leakages or any malicious activity in the complex systems.
  • Training: Lack of knowledge and training over security to both in-house employees and those functioning outside the organizational boundary, could also be seen as one of the prominent factors of security vulnerabilities.

Is Penetration Testing = Vulnerability Assessment?

No, penetration testing and vulnerability assessment are two different approaches, but with the same end-purpose of making software product/system safe and secure.

People are often ambiguous between the differences or similarity between these two techniques and use them interchangeably. However, both methodologies have different workflow to ensure the safety and security of the system.

Penetration Testing is a real time testing of the system, where the system and its related component are thrashed by the simulated malicious attacks in order to reveal out security flaws and issues present in it. It may be carried out using both manual approach and with the help of automation tools. While, Vulnerability Assessment involves study and analysis of system with the help of testing tools to identify and detect security loopholes and flaws present in the system and making it vulnerable to multiple variants of security attack.

Vulnerability Assessment methodology follows a pre-defined and established procedure, unlike penetration testing where the sole purpose is to break system, irrespective of adopted approaches. Through, vulnerability assessment, vulnerable areas are being spotted which may provide opportunity to hackers to attack and compromise with the system. Further, various remedial measures are provided in the approach of vulnerability assessment to remove or correct the detected flaws.

Why Penetration Testing?

As stated earlier, security loopholes, gaps and weakness prevailing in the system provides doorway to unauthorized user or any illegal entity to attack and exploit the system affecting its integrity & confidentiality. As such, penetration testing of software products has become the necessity to get rid of these vulnerabilities in order to make system competent enough to get protected and survived of expected and unexpected malicious threats and attacks.

So, let’s go through and recall the need of penetration testing in below given points:

  • To identify weaker and vulnerable areas of the system before the hacker spots it.
  • Daily, frequent and complex upgrades to make your system up-to-date may affect the associated hardware and software, resulting into security issues. As such, it is pertinent to monitor and control these upgrades to avoid any kind of security flaws in the system.
  • As discussed earlier, it is preferred to evaluate the current and existing security mechanism of your system in order to assess its competency in defending or surviving unexpected malicious attacks. This ensures the level of security standards maintained in the system along with the confidence in the system’s security traits.
  • Along with the system’s vulnerabilities, it is recommended to assess different business risks and issue including any sort of compromise with organization’s authorized and confidential data, with the help of business and technical team. This helps organization to re-structure and prioritize their plans and execution in order to avoid and mitigate different business risks and issues.
  • Last, but not the least, to identify and meet certain essential security standards, norms and practices, a system is lacking or is deficient of.

How to perform penetration testing?

Penetration testing of a system may be carried using any of the following approaches:

  • Manual Penetration Testing.
  • Automated Penetration Testing.
  • Manual+Automated Penetration Testing.

1. Manual Penetration Testing:

To carry out the manual penetration testing of a software product, a standard approach involving following operations or activities is being followed in a sequential manner:

  • Penetration Testing Planning:Planning phase involves the gathering of requirements along with the defining of the scope, strategies and objectives of the penetration testing in adherence to security standards and norms. Further, this phase may include the assessment and listing of areas to be tested, types of testing to be performed, and other related testing activities.

Scope may be defined using following criteria:

  • Reconnaissance:This phase involves the gathering and analysis as much as detailed information as possible about the system and related security attributes, useful in targeting and attacking each and every corner of the system to carry out effective and productive penetration testing of the system.Reconnaissance involves two different forms of gathering and analysing targeted system’s information; passive reconnaissanceand active reconnaissance, where former involves no direct interaction with the targeted system, and the latter approach needs direct interaction with the system.
  • Vulnerability Analysis:During this phase, vulnerable areas of the system are being identified and detected by the tester to get entry into the system and initiate the task of attacking the system using penetration tests.
  • Exploitation:This phase may be seen as the actual penetration testing of the system, where both internal and external attacks are being carried out, compromising both internal and external interfaces of the system.
    • External attacks are the simulated attacks from external world perspective, prevailing outside the system/network’s boundary. This may include gaining illegal or unauthorized access to system’s features and data pertaining to public facing applications and servers.
    • Internal attacks may be seen as those attacks which already intruded the system & got access to network perimeter, and carrying out various malicious activities to compromise with system’s integrity and veracity. This attack is useful from the purpose that those authorized entities within the network perimeter may intentionally or unintentionally compromise with the system.
  • Post-Exploitation:After exploiting the system, the next step is to perceive and analyse each and every different attacks on the system independently from different perspectives to assess the purpose and objective of each different attack along with its potential impact on the system and the business process.
  • Reporting: Reporting task involves the documentation work of the activities carried out prior to this phase. Further, reporting may also include different risks and issues identified, vulnerabilities identified and detected, all vulnerable areas whether exploited or not and remedial solutions to correct identified flaws and issues.

2. Automated Penetration Testing:

Another useful & effective approach of performing penetration testing is with the help of penetration testing tools. In fact automated penetration testing is very faster, speedy, reliable, convenient, and easy to execute & analyse approach. These tools are efficient in precisely and accurately detecting the security defects present in the system in a short period of time along with the delivery of crystal-clear reports.

Some of the popular and widely used penetration testing tools are:

  • NMap.
  • Nessus.
  • Metasploit.
  • Wireshark.
  • Veracode; and many more.

However, it is preferred and recommended to select tool based on below given criteria to meet each different requirements.

  • The tool should be easy to deploy, use and maintain.
  • Supports easy and quick scan of the system.
  • Able to automate the process of verifying the identified vulnerabilities.
  • Able to verify the previously detected vulnerabilities.
  • Feature of producing crystal clear, yet simple and detailed vulnerability reports.

3. Manual + Automated Penetration Testing:

A better approach of two combine the pros of manual and automation to ensure effective, monitored, controlled, reliable, precise and accurate penetration testing of software product in quick and speedy manner.

Types of Penetration Testing:

Depending upon the elements and objects involved, penetration testing may be categorized into following types:

  • Social Engineering Test: This test involves the usage of ‘human’ element to astutely reveal & gain the confidential & sensitive data and information over internet or phone from them. These may include employees of the organization or any other authorized entity present within the organization’s network.
  • Web Application Test: It is used to detect security flaws and issues in multiple variants of web applications and services hosted on client or server side.
  • Network Service Test: This involves the penetration testing of a network to identify and detect the security vulnerabilities, providing passage to hackers or any unauthorized entity.
  • Client Site Test: As the name suggest, this test is used to test applications installed at client site.
  • Remote Dial-up Test: Testing the modem or similar object which may provide access to connected system.
  • Wireless Security Test: This test targets the wireless applications and services including its different components & features such as routers, filtering packets, encryption, decryption, etc.

We may also categorize penetration testing based on the testing approaches to be used as stated below:

  • White Box Penetration Testing: In this approach, tester will have complete access to and in-depth knowledge of every minute and major attributes of system, in order to carry out the penetration testing. This testing is very much effective in comparison to its counterpart; white box approach, as the tester will be having complete and in-depth knowledge and understanding of each and every aspect of the system, useful in carrying out extensive penetration testing.
  • Black Box Penetration Testing: Only high-level of information is made available to testers such as URL or address of the organization to perform penetration testing. Here, tester may see himself as a hacker who is unaware of the system/network. Black box testing is a time consuming approach as the tester is not cognizable of system/network’s attributes and he/she will need considerable amount of time to explore system’s properties and details. Further, this approach of testing may result into missing out of some areas, keeping in view limited time period and information.
  • Gray Box Penetration Testing: Limited information available to testers to externally attack the system.

Penetration Testers:

The professionals or the individuals who proceeds and execute the task of penetration testing are called penetration testers. His/her job is to identify, locate and demonstrate the security flaws, loopholes and deficiencies present in the system.

In case of manual penetration testing of the application, the responsibilities of penetration testers increases manifold times. As such, it is essential and pertinent to state some of the characteristics and responsibilities of a penetration tester.

Characteristics and Responsibilities of a Penetration Tester:

  • A Penetration tester should be very much inquisitive to trace and explore each and every corner of the system/network.
  • He/she should be aware of & have hacker’s mindset.
  • He/she should able to identify and detect different components and areas of the system, which may be seen as the prime targets of hackers.
  • A penetration tester should be skilled and proficient in reproducing bugs or defects identified by him/her in order to assist developers in fixing them.
  • Penetration tester will have full access to each and every component of the system including confidential data and information, and thus it is expected from them to keep these data & information confidential and secure. He/she will be fully responsible for any sort of compromise, damage or loss to system’s data & information.
  • He/she should be well-proficient in communication to convey & report vulnerabilities, their details and other related information in clear, precise and effective manner to related teams.

Penetration Testing Limitations:

Amidst its various positives, penetration testing is affected by some limitation as stated below:

  • Limited time and increased cost of testing.
  • Limited scope of testing based on the requirements in the given period time, which may results into overlooking of other critical and essential areas.
  • Penetration testing aka pen testing may break-down the system or put system into failure state.
  • Data is vulnerable to loss, corruption or damage.

Conclusion:

Advancement in technologies has armed hackers with wide variety of resources and tools to easily break into system and network with the intention to cause loss to you or your organization name, reputation and assets. More than the testing, pen testing may be seen as a precautionary approach to identify and detect various symptoms of security deficiencies in order to nullify the potential security threats to system.

stagewise security testing

You Need Stage-Wise Security Testing For Reduced Product Vulnerabilities

A few lines of code can wreak more havoc than a bomb”
– Tom Ridge (Former Secretary, Department of Homeland Security, U.S)
In today’s digital age an increasing amount of vital data is being stored in applications. As the number of transactions on the web is increasing significantly, the proper testing of security features is becoming of critical importance. Technology is evolving at a very fast pace and the number of possible security vulnerabilities is also rising. Some research suggests that 75 % of all cyber-attacks occur at the web application level and almost 70% of websites stand at the risk of immediate attack. In the last couple of years, we have witnessed many security vulnerabilities and malware attacks in the form of URL manipulation, SQL injection, Spoofing, XSS (Cross Site Scripting), Brute Force Attack etc. According to a report by Symantec, even in 2015 alone there were more than “430 million new unique pieces of malware”, up by 36% YoY. Clearly, the success of any application in today’s world depends on how secure it is. Why would anyone use an application for personal or business use if they knew that it was vulnerable? It’s really as simple as that!

Security testing can be considered as one of the most important areas of testing that reveals the flaws in an applications data protection security mechanism. Fixing these ensures that confidential data is not exposed to individuals or identities or entities for whom it is not meant. Only authorized users would be able to perform authorized tasks on the application and no user is able to change application functionality in an unintended manner.

Today, testing is a core part of the development process owing to rise of development methodologies such as Agile, Test Driven Development, Behavior Driven Development, DevOps etc. Security testing too, like other testing areas should ideally begin at the first phase of the product development to ensure a high-quality end product. Let’s look at some areas where security testing should be included in the product development.

  1. Information Gathering:
    Security Testing should start from the requirement gathering phase itself to understand the security architecture that the application would demand. Understanding the business requirement, objectives and security goals can help testers to factor in the security factors to achieve PCI compliance. The testing team must conduct a security architecture analysis and understand the security demands of the application under test. Once this is done, the testing team should create an elaborate security test plan and test suites. The plan should identify the tools set to be used, the tests that should be manual and automated, and outline the vulnerabilities that need to be covered.
  2. Unit Testing:
    Security testing at the unit testing phase should be conducted to discover vulnerabilities in the development phase. Using static analytics tools, vulnerabilities can be identified based on a set of fixed patterns. By starting security testing in the unit testing phase, testers can dramatically reduce the number of bugs that make their way into the Black Box testing phase. This also has the advantage of discovering vulnerabilities with source code.
  3. Integration Testing:
    Black Box security testing can be introduced in the Integration Testing phase to identify security vulnerabilities before the application is deployed. Doing this helps in uncovering implementation errors and bugs that impact the application security that may have gone unnoticed in the unit testing or White Box testing phase. Security testing conducted during integration testing also uncovers security complexities and concerns that stem from interactions with the underlying environment or during interactions with third party components and the whole system.
  4. Application Deployment:
    n the application deployment phase, testing teams can conduct Penetration Testing to discover security threats that still exist in the system and assess if there are any open gates that leave the application vulnerable to malicious attacks. Along with uncovering these vulnerabilities, security testing conducted in this phase also helps in regulatory compliance and in saving network costs later.
  5. Post Production:
    While security tests are generally done in the pre-production phase, however running some security tests post production helps in making an application even more secure. This can help ensure high performance and that the use of scanners for security testing has not impacted the application in a negative manner. This is also a good time to assess the efficiency of the SSA(Software Security Assurance) program in use.

For security testing, the testing team needs to focus on identifying areas where a product is most vulnerable and address those comprehensively. By starting security testing early in the development, testers can understand the application better and find the chinks even in the most complex application designs. A thoroughly tested code, ensures that the end product is robust and more secure – and isn’t that what we all want?

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