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Containerization: Better Quality Assurance Through Automation

Author: Victor Kaitell | | October 21, 2021


 
“Quality assurance” (QA) refers to the procedures for verifying that a software application meets the defined standards, auditing, and evaluation of a product at each stage of development—from requirements gathering all the way through testing and maintenance. There are many benefits of improving your QA pipeline, including:
 

  • A higher quality end-product that passes software tests and fulfills user expectations.
  • Cutting IT costs and expenses by finding and fixing bugs and vulnerabilities before the software is released.
  • Faster speed-to-market by catching issues quicker and making software production-ready sooner.
  • Switching from a reactive stance to a proactive stance that focuses on preventing issues instead of detecting them.

 
While everyone can agree on the advantages of better QA, not every company is sure of the best way to make these benefits a reality. For example, can your QA organization stretch and scale to meet levels of increased demand? Do you even have what could be described as a “QA organization”?

Enter containerization technologies such as Docker and Kubernetes. Containers are software “units” that bundle an application together with all the libraries, configurations, and dependencies required for execution. By deploying your software in a container, you can ensure that it runs predictably and reliably, even in very different IT environments.

It’s easy to see how containers can make software development easier: they ensure a consistent environment for your applications, making it easy for developers to share modules and collaborate. But how can containers improve your QA processes as well? In this article, we’ll discuss how containerization technologies can work hand in hand with QA, in particular by enabling QA automation.

Learn more about our Containerization Services and how you can get your legacy IT into the cloud, without having to modernize the rest of your technology stack immediately.

The Benefits of Containers for QA

  1. Portability

    Virtual machines (VMs) are a natural comparison for container technologies: both use virtualization to create a more predictable and stable IT environment. But while VMs use hardware-level virtualization, containers virtualize the operating system, allowing multiple workloads to share and run on the same OS.

    This distinction means that containers are much more portable and lightweight than VMs. Containers take up only a few megabytes of space and can start up nearly instantaneously—as opposed to VMs, which are bulky and can take minutes to boot. This makes it easy for QA professionals to spin up a new container in the cloud within seconds and then test the containerized application against real user behaviors.

  2. Reliability

    The other great advantage of containers for quality assurance is their reliability. With new software versions and features being continuously rolled out, it can be surprisingly challenging to ensure that the application you’re testing is actually the application you deploy for end users.

    Containers solve this problem by creating a highly predictable, consistent environment in which applications can run. For example, if two different containers exhibit different behaviors or bugs, with only different configurations to distinguish them, then you know that the error is located somewhere at the configuration level, significantly reducing the time you need to track down the source of the issue.

    In general, containers can help limit the workload for your testing and QA employees by standardizing the environment and configurations between different machines, which reduces the number of QA tests your team needs to perform.

Containerization and Automation

If your development process is getting bogged down by software quality issues, containers may be the solution you need. Yet as powerful as containerization is on its own, it’s even more effective when paired with other QA techniques such as automation.

For example, each time developers push new changes or features to the code base, QA teams need to pull the new build from the server and install it inside a new testing environment. Instead of this tedious manual process, you can use containers and automation to simplify and streamline the QA workflow.

Another benefit of containers is that they are highly modular and scalable. Because multiple containers can run on the same operating system, you can use automation to test multiple configurations at the same time (e.g., running the same actions in different web browsers), speeding up the testing process.

In addition, containers are highly flexible; they can accommodate many programming languages, libraries, frameworks, tools, and middleware components. This flexibility allows your QA automation workflow to easily try out multiple variations and configurations, without having to manually change the parameters of the testing environment.

Conclusion

Looking to streamline your QA processes and workflow? By improving the portability and reliability of your application builds, containerization and automation might be the twin solutions you need. But if you’ve never used either technology before, how can you find the right IT managed services partner?

Datavail is ready to help with your next containerization and/or automation project, especially in cloud environments. We’ve partnered with countless clients on their cloud migration projects by containerizing their legacy on-premises applications, whether they’re moving to Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, or Oracle Cloud. To learn more, get in touch with our team of IT experts today for a chat about your business needs and objectives.

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