Delivering responsive, high-quality applications — with no vulnerabilities, and minimal downtime — is a must in today’s digital reality. That’s why modern applications have to undergo a series of tests before releasing them to the end users. Be that as it may, it’s almost impossible for an application not to have some kind of vulnerability, at some point in its lifecycle. However, by following the right application deployment testing practices, you, as a CTO, can drastically reduce them; and, deliver first-rate applications to your clients.
In this article, we’ll help you understand why testing is important, and discuss some widely-used practices for successful application deployments.
What is application deployment testing?
In simple terms, application deployment testing is analyzing every aspect and component of an application to detect the differences between existing and required conditions. Ideally, teams run tests before, during, and after the deployment process. In this way, they can identify errors before end users do.
Indeed, through testing, teams can spot bugs, gaps in the code, or any missing requirements. That’s how they can validate whether the application satisfies the expected requirements, or not. Should they detect that something’s off, they’ll take the necessary steps to promptly resolve the problem.
Why do you need testing practices in software deployment?
Without a doubt, testing is key to a successful product. By applying testing practices, teams can identify bugs early on — especially if they put automation into the mix, as we’ll see further below — and save valuable time. As a result, they ensure that their application is bug-free and robust. Ultimately, testing helps teams deliver more user-friendly applications. On top of that, it speeds up the development process and streamlines the DevOps flow.
The importance of having an application deployment strategy in the testing process
Having an application deployment strategy is essential for any successful testing practice. That’s because it makes sure that the application is deployed, consistently and reliably. And, of course, it meets all the requirements. What’s more, a well-planned application deployment strategy, ensures that any changes made are properly tested, before they’re released to users.
A good deployment strategy should include a detailed plan of how the application will be deployed; as well as any additional steps needed to ensure its success. It should also include a timeline for when each step needs to be completed; so that testing can begin on time. By having an effective application deployment strategy in place, teams can reduce the risk of errors, and increase their chances of delivering quality applications, fast.
At the end of the day, a team’s approach to the whole deployment process will define the responsiveness and reliability of the product that reaches the end users. That’s why deployment testing practices — along with the right testing methodologies — should be the basis for application deployment.
Widely-used testing practices and strategies in application deployment
As mentioned, testing is an integral part of the application deployment process — and, the overall DevOps lifecycle, for that matter. Therefore, as a CTO, you should clearly define and apply the testing practices that will support your DevOps strategy.
Now, as the application begins its journey from the development to the release pipeline — and, from there, to the production environment — teams run tests to ensure that everything’s fine, before deployment. This procedure includes:
- Detecting, and solving issues in the code.
- Ensuring that the application meets the standards for usability, reliability, availability, quality, performance, security; and, preferably, scalability.
Some of the most widely-used tests in application deployment include:
- Functional tests (e.g., unit, integration, smoke, system, acceptance, and user acceptance testing)
- Non-functional tests (e.g., compatibility, usability, security, load, and performance tests)
Each of these tests has its purpose and helps teams to identify and resolve problems in the application before it gets out to the market. By performing these tests regularly, teams can certify that their product is ready for deployment without any major issues. However, for these tests to fully validate the health of the application code and infrastructure, first, they must be supported by respective testing practices.
4 Best practices for application deployment testing
To highlight, once again, testing practices in application deployment are an essential part of the software development process. It’s the only way to ensure that your application has been deployed correctly, and performs as expected. Thankfully, there are several best practices you can follow; here, we’ll briefly discuss four of them.
1. Preparation and planning
In this pre-deployment phase, you discuss and plan with your team all the tasks that need to be completed, to prepare the application for deployment. For instance:
- Make a checklist with all the requirements the application must meet
- Create an environment to test the application — similar to the production environment
- Run all the necessary tests
- Identify, and resolve any bugs and errors
- Engage in regression testing (re-running functional and non-functional tests)
2. Automation, and Agile workflows
Automating (as much as possible) the tests you run in the deployment phase, will ultimately save a lot of time, streamline the entire process, and increase team productivity. Besides, your CI/CD pipeline must also integrate testing automation to ensure that only bug-free code is deployed into production. Automated testing practices can also benefit Agile workflows, as they can perfectly integrate into them for more consistent results.
3. Rollback strategy
In case something goes wrong, having a rollback strategy in place will help your team address issues early. At this point, it would also be good to enable automated rollbacks for deployments that don’t pass health tests. Doing so will allow your team to restore the application to its previous version — that is, before the change that caused the issue — or its initial state. This will help them spot steps or requirements that they missed, before — or during — the deployment. It will also help you, as a CTO, improve your change management approach.
4. Post-deployment monitoring
You probably already know, as a CTO, that developing and deploying an application is only the beginning. In reality, you should constantly monitor its health and performance, since many unexpected problems may arise in a real-world environment. For this purpose, you need to create an alerting mechanism to promptly notify the responsible team when something seems off, to avoid mishaps, as much as possible.
The final step in the application deployment process — and, arguably the most crucial — is testing the application. By all means, your application needs to be available every day, every minute, no matter what. If you launch your application to the market without following proper testing will eventually create more work for you, and your team; not to mention higher costs, and, unfortunately, unhappy end users.
Thus, as a CTO, you should provide your team with the right methodologies, tools, and processes; along, with your guidance, of course. There’s no better way to help them integrate testing into the deployment process, discover any underlying issues, and prevent them from getting into production; and, in the end, at the hand of end users.
Other than that, having a deployment strategy will allow you to determine which tests your team needs to perform every time — or with every new feature; depending on the requirements. Successful deployments also require coming up with a plan that integrates testing practices and leverages a variety of tests. Each test should cover a different aspect of the application, verifying whether it’s ready for deployment, or not. In the long run, a thorough approach to application deployment testing contributes to the overall success of the product.