How MSPs Can Profit from Continuous Testing Services
In today’s digital economy, speeding application innovation is a business imperative. To realize this acceleration, continuous testing is critical. However, establishing continuous testing is a significant undertaking, and its one many development teams are looking for help with. This post examines why continuous testing is so critical and challenging for enterprises, and it reveals the opportunities this market demand presents for MSPs.
Introduction: Criticality of Fast Application Innovation
In the digital economy, it is increasingly applications that separate market victors from laggards. Personal interactions continue to be supplanted by the digital. Now, applications are where battles for customer loyalty can be won or lost.
In the digital economy, businesses need to deliver application innovations to market at an increasingly rapid pace. At the same time, they have to meet the increasingly stringent expectations for quality that today’s users have—or face dire consequences for failing to meet those expectations. Ultimately, to compete in this emerging paradigm, it is increasingly incumbent upon organizations to establish a modern software factory.
By establishing a modern software factory, organizations can begin to deliver innovations at the pace today’s markets require. In a recent post, we outlined why the need for enterprises to establish a modern software factory is so vital, and why it is an imperative for MSPs to support customers in pursuing this objective.
In building a modern software factory, organizations need to fundamentally change the way software is developed and tested. Continuous delivery represents an integral piece of this change. Ultimately, continuous delivery is key to enabling organizations to meet the key objective of building better applications, faster. As they seek to realize the gains of continuous delivery, quality assurance and testing often emerge as significant speed bumps.
The reality is that testing is an integral aspect of development and most developers dedicate a significant amount of their time to these efforts. Consequently, making strides in testing efficiency and automation can yield significant gains in overall development speed and quality.
These realities point to the urgent need for continuous testing in today’s development organizations. Continuous testing entails embedding testing as a fundamental and ongoing aspect of every activity in the software development lifecycle. As code is developed, QA and development staff must do continuous testing for application performance, quality and user experience.
By delivering testing-as-a-service offerings, MSPs can help customers establish vital continuous testing capabilities, so they can start realizing the benefits of this approach. The following sections look at the need for these services in more detail.
Challenges, Obstacles to Continuous Testing
Aligning testing with modern development environments is proving challenging in a broad range of organizations. In fact, one survey found 99 percent of testing teams highlight challenges with testing due to agile and DevOps adoption. Following are some of the primary obstacles:
- Slow. 63% of DevOps adopters say current QA processes are a bottleneck.
- Manual and labor-intensive. On average, only 16 percent of test activities are performed using automation technologies.
- Costly and complex. 63 percent see traditional testing tools as too complex and expensive.
- Insufficient. High-volume, low-variety copies of production data introduce high infrastructure costs and yet typically cover only 20% to 30% of the tests needed to ensure quality, according to CA audits of customer test data and test cases.
These limitations leave businesses exposed to defects being discovered later in the development lifecycle, as well as potential compromises in application quality and slow time to market for new features.
Addressing these challenges and realizing high-level continuous delivery objectives is not a simple, push-button exercise. Freeform Dynamics did a survey of more than 900 IT and testing professionals. Seventy-two percent of respondents indicated they believe continuous testing requires a major shift in mindset and culture.
To be successful, organizations need to embark on a cultural shift. This is an approach that requires buy-in and investment from top management. IT practitioners need to commit to the quality mandate and be accountable for delivering on this objective.
The Significant Upside of Continuous Testing
As outlined above, in the digital economy, the ability to roll out improved business applications on a continuous basis has become essential. Through continuous testing, DevOps teams can help speed the development of new digital innovations, channels and tools. Through continuous testing, organizations can begin to deliver new application functionality at the pace today’s digital businesses require.
The dividends of continuous testing can be immense. In the Freeform Dynamics survey referenced above, researchers found that those who implement continuous testing:
- Are 1.9 times more confident in their teams’ speed of delivery.
- Are 2.4 times more confident in the quality of their output.
- Are 2.8 times more likely to meet customer experience expectations.
- Have testing costs that are 25 percent lower.
To sum up, continuous testing represents a vital, strategic business imperative, and it’s one many DevOps teams are struggling to address. As mentioned above, instituting continuous delivery and testing is not a simple, push-button exercise. It is one that involves changes not only in terms of tools but workflows, teams and cultures. Within many organizations, it is difficult to marshal the skills, expertise and time needed to effectively pursue continuous delivery initiatives. For these reasons, many organizations are turning to MSPs for assistance with these efforts.
By delivering high-value, testing-as-a-service offerings, select MSPs will be able to help customers address the challenges outlined above. Through these services, MSPs can help their customers be better positioned to realize their digital transformation objectives.
As mentioned in one of our prior posts, to help our service provider partners address customers’ evolving requirements, we’ve been undertaking whitespace assessments. Through these analyses, we’ve been taking an extensive look at a number of MSP websites and assessing how they match up with emerging customer requirements. (See one of our recent posts to learn more about this effort.)
Through these assessments, we’re seeing that many service providers are moving into areas that support digital transformation. In this arena, application-centric services, and specifically testing-as-a-service offerings, present many MSPs with significant opportunities for service expansion.
MSPs can address a range of needs for internal DevOps teams. They can bring in high-level strategic expertise as well as practical assistance. They can also deliver comprehensive, end-to-end offerings or more targeted services that address a specific effort or area. Following are some examples of the types of services that can be delivered:
- Automation. Within continuous testing, MSPs can deliver services focused on establishing automation, helping in such areas as service virtualization and test data management.
- Service virtualization. Service virtualization offerings can provide clients with capabilities for ensuring that teams can gain consistent, cost-effective access to the systems and services that are needed to do effective testing.
- Test automation enablement. MSPs can deliver test automation enablement services, which could include establishing capabilities for capturing and modeling business requirements and automatically generating test cases based on those requirements.
- Test data management services. Through test data management services, MSPs can help clients ensure that test data is available on an on-demand basis. In addition, these services can support organizations in helping ensure test data management is aligned with security policies and compliance mandates. For example, they can help establish capabilities for ensuring personally identifiable information (PII) of customers isn’t introduced in testing environments, where it can pose exposure from a security and compliance perspective.
- Advisory services. MSPs can offer advisory services that help clients enhance, expand or optimize their testing capabilities and approaches. For example, MSPs can help customers refine testing model approaches so they gain maximum test coverage with the fewest number of test cases.
CA Solutions: Powering Testing-as-a-Service Offerings
Having the right tools can be invaluable for MSPs looking to establish or optimize their testing-as-a-service offerings. If your MSP business is looking for tools that can power winning testing services, be sure to include CA solutions in your evaluations. CA offers a range of solutions that support high-value, testing-as-a-service offerings. Following are a few of the solutions that are available:
- CA Agile Requirements Designer. This automated testing solution accelerates requirements model creation. The solution offers model-based testing capabilities that simplify requirements engineering and automate the design, development and maintenance of executable test cases.
- CA Service Virtualization. This offering simulates unavailable systems across the software development lifecycle to facilitate continuous testing. The solution can be used to emulate external services and applications, offering robust simulations that accurately model behavior, data and performance of systems.
- CA Test Data Manager. This solution helps customers identify and model the exact data needed for rigorous testing, offering capabilities for sophisticated visualization and coverage analysis. The solution can create synthetic test data from scratch.
To see more of our solutions in this area, be sure to visit our continuous testing solutions page.
In the digital economy, applications increasingly represent the way organizations will compete and win in their markets. By delivering services that support continuous testing, MSPs can address an urgent, strategic and growing demand in their customer base. If your organization is contemplating a move into the continuous testing area, be sure to check out the resources below:
- Novel: “The Kitty Hawk Venture.” Senior CA executives recently wrote a novel on the topic of continuous testing in DevOps. The novel offers a compelling read and sound lessons on the importance of continuous testing. Follow the link to review a blog post that offers some background on the novel and why it was written. Learn more.
- eBook: “Continuous Testing: The Final Frontier of Continuous Delivery.” This ebook looks at how teams can leverage continuous testing to achieve continuous delivery. Learn more.
- White paper: “Continuous Testing for Continuous Delivery: What Does It Mean in Practice?” This white paper examines how, by integrating continuous testing into an end-to-end continuous delivery ecosystem, teams can take ideas from design to operations faster, without compromising quality. Learn more.