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How do I move from QA to DevOps Engineer?

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Software Development methodology is a fast-evolving space, integrating all functions from development to operations within the same lifecycle. As IT thought processes and methodologies keep evolving, more and more companies are bringing on board the DevOps culture. According to a survey, about 74% of companies have adopted DevOps in some form.

And it’s a foregone conclusion that DevOps is impacting QA (Quality Assurance). 

As the goal of DevOps is also to cut down defects while improving feature releases, the traditional ways of improving software quality are no longer working. The task of QA teams during discrete testing windows is thus changing to embrace Continuous Improvement in DevOps culture. 

If you are a Software Tester wanting to migrate to job roles with lucrative salaries, opt for DevOps training. Register for an online DevOps Engineer course and make a seamless career shift from QA to DevOps with a certification to add value to your resume.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lpk7VpGqkKw&t=549s 

Test Automation in a DevOps environment

DevOps is all about speed and agility. This is achievable with the automation of testing processes configured for deployment. 

In DevOps, the Developer and QA roles are not distinct. Developers implement strategies by prioritizing testing. While all teams are responsible for the quality and timeliness of deliveries, the traditional function of Developers was to focus on the development and testing, while that of the QA Analyst was to get a build deployed in the designated environment before Regression Testing. However, the functions of the QA Analyst for DevOps testing changed along the way. 

As the need arose to align QA efforts within the DevOps cycle, QA teams were assigned the responsibility of ensuring 

  • Automation of test cases achieved near 100% code coverage.
  • Testing environments are standardized with the deployment of automated QA boxes. 
  • Automation and alignment of all pre-testing and post-testing tasks, cleanups, etc., with the Continuous Integration cycle.

Coordination between various functions of the deliverable chain is the hallmark of DevOps. This is where the QA team comes in, as team members can contribute to the chain and configure deployments. At the same time, Deployment engineers can add test cases to the QA repository, and QA Engineers can configure automation test cases into the DevOps chain.

A QA Analyst is required to assure the robustness of a product, especially in DevOps, where application updates take place very frequently. With recurrent changes, outages become common, affecting the service of a product. But instant fixes need to be tested thoroughly before deployment in Production. Thus the role of the QA Analyst is to evaluate and do the balancing act. Does an instant fix affect any other functionality in the application? How to satisfy the thorough testing and prevent future outages?

Role of QA Testing in DevOps

In conventional non-DevOps setups, Developers dump code to QA Analysts to discover the testing environment for bugs which is then carried back to Developers for debugging. It is common for Developers to pass on the blame to QA Analysts and conversely have the QA Analysts hold Developers responsible for the bugs. 

The stronghold of DevOps is the purging of silos between QA and Developer roles. For this, seamless communication and collaboration between Developers and Testers are critical for the successful implementation of Testing. 

A QA role is critical in the Developer environment for DevOps. This is because the Developer environment is constantly in a state of flux. With Agile Scrum Development, customer demands are ever-changing, making it almost impossible for a QA Analyst to perform a complete round of Regression Testing. Besides, Developer tools also obstruct a robust QA validation. This necessitates a best practice in every SDLC to remove the breakdowns in communication and build a proactive ecosystem.

How are cohesion and consistency achieved between DevOps, Operations, and QA? 

By ensuring that the developers, DevOps teams, and QA teams are on the same page throughout the project lifecycle, software success is achieved for customer satisfaction. It means removing the gaps for the seamless functioning of teams along the SDLC and assigning distinct roles. Developers thus prioritize testing strategies using QA as the link between Development and Operations, with the collaborative machinery functioning at the core of DevOps. Developers conduct unit tests on the code before using it in the main codebase. And the QA Analysts engage in fixing bugs. Such a DevOps software testing ecosystem keeps the code clean and error-free for a faster time to product release and customer satisfaction.

How to move from QA to DevOps

Pursuing a career in DevOps from a QA background is always easier than coming from a non-technical and non-testing background. 

The DevOps role combines Development, Operations, and QA. As a QA Analyst, your job role is much similar to that of a Developer. For Operations, a Support/Admin background and hands-on experience with a few DevOps tools can get you started along the DevOps path.

Some tools to know are:

  • Configuration Management: Puppet, Chef, SaltStack, Ansible
  • Log management: rsyslog, Logstash, Graylog2 
  • Continuous Integration: Jenkins, Hudson
  • Monitoring and Measurement: Graphite, StatsD, Collectd, Zabbix, Munin
  • Deployment: Fabric, Mcollective, ControlTier
  • Virtual Environment management: OpenStack, Vagrant, Docker

Browse through hiring job descriptions and check out what tools companies are looking for. Prepare your skills to make that changeover to a DevOps Engineer. The learning curve can be three to six months, depending on your existing background and QA role. Generally, you must learn more about Automation, grasp new scripting languages (shell, Perl python), check Linux administration experience (Redhat, Ubuntu), master the basics of Jenkins or Dockers and the fundamentals of Build tools (Ant, Maven, MSBuild), and ramp up your experience with Amazon Web Services. With this, you are ready for a transition to DevOps. However, a formal certification makes you more career-ready and helps you land that much-coveted DevOps role in a large enterprise. 

At the same time, you may adopt an alternate pathway to become a DevOps Engineer. Instead of moving from QA to DevOps, you may implement the DevOps approach with a QA Analyst role. For instance, for Manual Testers, learning Automation Testing is critical before adopting the DevOps methodology. This way, you can migrate from a Manual Tester role to an SDET (Software Development/Design Engineer in Test) role that incorporates the duties of both Tester and Developer. You can be a Developer, and instead of working in Product Development, work in the testing team writing and testing the code. In DevOps, SDETs have the responsibility of continuously writing, testing, and fixing the written code. So you can adopt the DevOps methodology with a QA Analyst role.

Once you have successfully navigated your chosen path, begin applying for jobs most suited to your capabilities and get relevant work experience on industrial projects.

Takeaway

DevOps is the future of Software Development. It is a Continuous Improvement cycle, and team members need to embrace the DevOps culture and master the Automation and Continuous Integration tools to add value to the chain. 

With Automation emerging as the new mantra across successful DevOps implementation, QA professionals must envisage how to hone their skills and learn DevOps for a successful career step-up. However, if you are in manual testing, you must learn Automation Testing and then DevOps methodology, or move from the Manual Tester role to the SDET role with a formal DevOps certification.

 

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