How Real User Monitoring can support Continuous Delivery in a DevOps scenario
When we talk about DevOps we basically mean – delivery of application changes at the speed of business. One of the most important aspects of DevOps is Testing, while focusing on business objectives and other parameters like development activities that include design, development and delivery. The mantra of DevOps is to work towards continuous improvement in delivery by collaborating, sharing responsibilities and accountability. As per experts and industry influencers the core focus of DevOps is delivering robust systems with world class reliability. “World class reliability” means delivering high quality which actually means testing.
It’s understood by the above given definition that Testing is critical to DevOps. While its imperative for a DevOps scenario to work in sync with the speed of Business it definitely does not mean at the cost of quality and broken customer experiences. The app has to provide consistency in Quality of Service and meet business expectations. Brands cannot aspire to have top notch rating if their apps are inconsistently performing, crashing or popping random error messages. So what should be our approach to delivering fast without compromising quality? By going the Continuous Integration way that introduces automated unit testing to validate changes and ensure all is well. In Continuous delivery, the apps and changes to it are run through an automated testing to validate performance and function.
New Era for Testers
The world is certainly changing for testers in a positive direction. The older and exhaustive ways of manual testing and use cases building are losing their grip and automated testing is becoming an essential part of the delivery pipeline.
In continuous integration (CI) environments, it makes sense to propel testing into development. The best way of doing this is by monitoring the user behaviour in production and using the data to automatically construct development testing. This will save the hassles of making guesses with the help of business analyst who many a times ends up being wrong as user behaviour is highly unpredictable in nature and needs continuous monitoring.
Importance of a Real User Monitoring Tool
A Real User Monitoring tool can enable continuous and real time monitoring of entire user base and generating a analytical as well as predictive pattern. A real user monitoring tool that can not only monitor the uptime, latency, geographical data, user-wise/ device or OS wise insights buts also can correlate the data and provide smart insights as well as recommendations can be instrumental in this whole exercise.
Traditionally RUM (Real User Monitoring) products have been predominantly used to create incidents and troubleshoot issues by IT operations teams, meanwhile the dev teams were using their own tools and processes. As DevOps is diluting the line of distinction between various teams, its redundant to have separate processes and tools for each team. It is far more insightful when the user behaviour data is pulled from production environment and fed into the test environment. In theory, this can be done manually however, the amount of work involved is pretty vast and therefore its far more effective to have automated tools.
Automatically pulling real user behaviour and application performance data into an automated test environment, gives much more accurate, consistent and scalable testing process to DevOps teams. Once it is clear what the users are experiencing for real instead of making guesses or working around the data received from a small sample size, dev and product teams can work more effectively around enhancing the end user experiences for their applications.
Contextually these insights can also be used in other scenarios. For example, Site Reliability Engineers can leverage this data to get a head start on testing processed thereby enhancing the overall Time to Market.
Some tips for automating testing process:
- Remember the end goal is much bigger than continuous delivery, it is delivering the highest quality of user experience with each release.
- To ensure that the performance of app and user experience if of the highest quality, the tool needs to record activity on the most affected user flows or business processes. This is where a Real User Monitoring tool can help.
- To ensure that you get the complete picture, with every app release more and more production data should be added to the test suite.
There are cases where less evolved teams or maybe more conventional teams prefer to manually analyze the error-logs to understand what the users are doing. Some organizations like that level of control. But as a company grows, that approach is not scalable. Its important to let the data do the work for you in real time.
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