Updated on August 2, 2016 by Sam Lee
Prior to making a software system available for public consumption, a series of tests should be conducted to ensure the software runs as intended. Flaws are fixed and inefficiencies removed to come up with a program that runs seamlessly. A battery of tests is conducted with a view towards identifying and fixing bugs, which are a precursor for system failure. It is an essential part of the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC), and may perhaps be considered the most important aspect, aside from design and coding. Indeed, the quality of the product plays a huge part in setting the stage for the acceptance and success of subsequent ones in the market. With this in mind testing hitherto release of software should not be taken for granted.
The multifaceted tests are aimed towards testing the load capability, compatibilities, as well as integration abilities with other systems. They involve the use of special data on the system and the checking of the consistency of solutions given therein. This data may be referred to as dummy data, as the required results are known beforehand and as a result deviations of solutions issued may be identified and corrected as required.
The Configuration Management Database (CMDB) plays an important part in release testing. This is because configuration management involves mapping out the entire IT backbone in a detailed format. It is necessary to keep the CMDB updated, as it will enable you to view the entire map of the IT infrastructure from the perspective of a single component. Testing to discover how much the CMDB is updated will reduce configuration drift, and make the process of prediction of future component failures much easier. Ultimately, the formulation of recovery plans will become a simple affair, with what's at stake clearly depicted at all times in the event of failure. For instance, the CMDB will issue reports on what stands to be lost in the event that a server crashes, and will guide the distribution of risks to other servers, to ensure sustained and substantial security features are maintained in the system. This may imply the necessitation of new hardware, and is an important task before rollout is implemented. The success of the implementation goes a long way into creating an efficient, self correcting system, which is every developer's dream.
Release Testing and ALM
Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) fuses together business management and software engineering, encompassing the design process and release management. It brings together executives from all levels of management, from the business to the information technology departments. ALM stresses the importance of testing as part of the software lifecycle, and will encourage the use of applications dedicated to the automation of the process. Dedicated software will test all aspects of software and give detailed suggestions and recommendations on how to improve the software. Indeed, quality software runs seamlessly, and will ensure economical and efficient rollout. This will guarantee a greater acceptance and reduced inertia, which is the tendency to desire to stick to old norms and procedures in lieu of taking to newer, better improved systems. These pieces of software have been tried, tested and found to make release testing a manageable activity. They are made available to organizations at a marginal cost, which should be factored into the software development budget.
ITILs describe the means and procedures employed by organizations to achieve a minimum level of competency, with a view towards compliance and measuring improvement. With regard to release testing, ITIL service validation and testing is geared towards ensuring that the releases adhere to customer expectations, and that the IT infrastructure supporting the system is adequate and able to support the system. It is comprised of a set of procedures which ensure that the aspects of the Information Technology Infrastructure Library are tested and evaluated on all levels. This is done using measurements known as Key Performance Indicators. The application of the various constituent tests will guarantee that only components that meet strict criteria are deployed into the actual release phase. In addition, ITIL testing serves to guarantee express user consent that the system fulfills the requirements set out at the beginning.
Puppet and Release Testing
Puppet is a fast becoming a household name with regard to system development and ITILs. Its brainchild, Labs Inc, is credited for making the release testing and debugging processes very easy. It simplifies system administration, thus making system agility a reality. The platform represents a remarkable migration of system administration methods from more traditional ones, and provides a double pronged approach to system testing and debugging. If the system encounters a syntax error with the configurations, it gives a relevant file name and line number for immediate correction of the error at hand. With regard to evaluating the overall configuration, it provides detailed output, which will ensure the administrator figures out if the configuration drifts from its intended format. Chef is also among the hallmarks of the Open Source Software Movement, and plays an all important role in unit testing for infrastructure development. The developers are keen with keeping up with developments in the sector, with newer versions being rolled out to provide testing solutions for all platforms.
UpGuard is also among the systems dedicated to making release testing a worthwhile and efficient process. It works hand in hand with Chef to automate release and configuration testing, marrying automation implementation and unit testing for infrastructure to guarantee software of remarkable quality. It makes the definition, running, and issue of test reports a touch and go process, while encouraging collaboration across the board.
Indeed, before its release, any product has to be tested for quality and adherence to stringent conditions and requirements set by the increasingly discerning consumer. Failure to adhere to fill any consumer needs warrants rejection of the product, spelling failure for the research, design and development team. Considerable effort should be channeled to ensuring a release testing process that extends beyond accuracy and consistency. It should also cater for the intended consumer's needs, and as such a means to evaluate to what extent this is achieved should be initiated before rolling out can truly be contemplated.
Misconfigurations are an internal problem that emanate from within the IT infrastructure of any enterprise; no hacker is necessary for massive damage to occur to digital systems and stored data. And the problem is pervasive, with Gartner estimating anywhere from 70% to 99% of data breaches result not from external, concerted attacks, but from internal misconfiguration of the affected IT systems.