Fine Tuning Automated Testing with Test Orchestration

Automated Testing

Test orchestration is an important part of any test automation strategy. And with test automation gaining substantial traction in software testing spheres of late – so much so that it may just be the undisputed future of testing – the necessity of orchestration has only grown. Despite the fact that test automation is a fairly new introduction to software testing, DevOps teams are realizing the importance of it being implemented earlier in the software development lifecycle (SDLC). And even if their intentions are good at heart, DevOps technicians can easily cause more harm than good if they fail to fully understand automation.

To get around this problem, DevOps teams require a way to see the “bigger picture”. In simpler terms, they need help trying to look away from the code and see the product for what it is. This is where test orchestration comes in – a powerful strategy for holistic and continuous automated testing software QA. But with such a strong version of automation power, comes greater orchestration responsibilities.

The Foundational Element of Testing

In essence, test orchestration or test automation orchestration is a simple concept and is a testing framework that is used to create a set of automated tasks. Within this framework, tasks are conducted in a linear way or put simply, in a certain order which follows one after the other.

To better understand the term, test orchestration, you may want to look at the term at face value. Similar to an orchestra – where a collection of instruments are played together and led by a conductor to create a harmonious composition of music – test orchestration takes a set of tests and makes them work in synchrony to better optimize software testing. The instruments in this case are tests and the role of the conductor is played by test orchestration.

Another perspective on trying to understand test orchestration may be to think of it as the foundational element or structure for automated testing. It requires the base layer – in this case, manual and automated tests – to create a stable structure in the form of a total test plan. As a result, test orchestration makes way for the aforementioned “bigger picture” that DevOps technicians require and form a higher level of development. And now, its usage is becoming more important than ever to guarantee the successful deployment of modern software services.

Test Orchestration vs. Test Automation

Automated Testing and orchestration may seem similar at first but they are separated by a few key differences. And understanding these differences can be the defining factor for success.

Test automation is typically done by designers and developers and takes place at the scripting level. Tests are created by testers, and the DevOps technicians come in to create the environment to run the tests. This is the case for both unit and functional testing in testing companies. Once the tests and their environment is made, various automation tools are used to execute them to ensure the software and its code are well behaved and work as intended.

Test orchestration is slightly different in that it is done at the level of the development team. It is a test plan and not a technical tool. Summarising the two, automation conducts the tests while orchestration controls which tests are to be executed, in which order, determine if it requires human interference and how to interpret the results. By following this approach, test orchestration aims to optimise the testing process while minimising human interaction. 

Why You Might Want to Consider a Test Orchestration Strategy

Let’s not beat around the bush here: test orchestration is difficult to work. Not only does it require a great deal of technical prowess but is also difficult in an unfamiliar way. These days, it is not uncommon to find DevOps technicians without the principles of test optimization. To perform test orchestration properly, you may require new skills on your team and in cases where it is a large enough project, you may even need to find yourself a completely new and specialized team for the task.

So one might wonder: if test orchestration brings complexity to product testing and development, why even include it in the first place? This is one such case where the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. Some of the benefits test orchestration brings to the table include:

  • Lessen the testing time through optimization.
  • Cuts down testing costs in the long term.
  • Faster deployment of new features.
  • Greater time for DevOp for the “heavy lifting” of feature development.
  • Allows for true continuous testing.

Without a solid strategy in place, moving from test automation to test orchestration can add more time to your overall testing plans than it subtracts. What makes the situation worse is the countess number of tools flooding the market that promise to ease your orchestration burdens.

What are Orchestration and Scheduling Tools?

Orchestration and scheduling tools make up a vast category that encompasses everything from basic script-based application deployment tools to much more complex and specialized container orchestration solutions, such as Kubernetes. The vast majority of orchestration tools are quite complex and require interaction with various systems, which may make integrating everything a hassle. Additionally, they have a tendency to possess convoluted price models that start with an inexpensive base but become pricey quickly thanks to plug-ins and add-ons that has got to be included to make way for all the functionalities.

Aside from price, you ought to consider the subsequent factors carefully before choosing an orchestration tool:

  1. Your organization and IT deployment size: This is often especially important when taking into consideration licensing levels.
  2. Your operating system: Traditionally, Windows-based products work best with the Windows operating system. You could make the case to settle on a tool that’s inherently compatible with your organization.
  3. Open source vs. commercial: Support is typically a key differentiator here. Open source products often count on continued community support, while commercial products have assigned experts that are nice to possess for critical business systems.

At the end of the day, the goal of test orchestration is to increase efficiency and better optimize the entire test management process. By incorporating test automation orchestration and building a smart and complete test strategy a business greatly accelerates the entire development process which ultimately results in shorter release cycles and better quality releases.