Is Automation Complete Without Automated Testing?

In order to achieve real process automation and to make a service factory really work in a commercially viable manner, it is of great importance to consider testing as an integral part of the process throughout the entire lifecycle of the service.

So, you have sophisticated development tools to design your services, but how automated can the development process be if you have to go through a manual testing cycle after every change? Similarly, what level of automation is achieved if service deployment is automated but testing needs to be performed in a case by case, manually driven process.

Both development and production lifecycles should be integrated and coupled together to build a consistent end-to-end CI/CD pipeline.

How can this be achieved?

During the design and packaging of a network service or VNFs, any time a new version of a package is saved, it should be automatically tested without the manual requirement to set up test environments, install and configure test devices, (like traffic generators or monitoring devices), or to run test scenarios. To make this possible, test design should be embedded in the service or, VNF modelling and test scenarios should be stored with the package to make them available in any environment the package is onboarded to. Also, it is important that design tools can be used not only to model the actual service but also to test environments and applicable test resources enabling the automated ‘spinning up’ of test environments. Finally, you need to include testing as part of your CI/CD pipeline to secure automated triggering of test scenarios in a systematic manner.

When service packages and associated VNFs are ready and tested during development lifecycle, it is time to deploy them in production. But how can we tell that the service really behaves as it should before releasing it to the end customer?

To secure the expected behaviour of service, Ready For Service (RFS) testing should be performed as part of the deployment process. Pre-defined applicable test scenarios built into the design process which include the definitions in your service package, RFS testing can be integrated into the deployment process and triggered automatically as a step of your CI/CD pipeline.

The value of automated testing spans the whole duration of the production lifecycle of a service. Automated behavioural testing of services provides a highly useful toolset for diagnostics and in finding hidden quality issues, for example, when all indicators show a green light, but the customer is still suffering from service quality issues.

As testing is seen as an integral and elementary part of CI/CD process and test automation as a prerequisite for process automation, Accanto has developed integrated behavioural testing capabilities in its Stratoss™ Lifecycle Manager. Stratoss LM’s service designer has integrated graphical tools for test design, and standards-based VNF and Network Service packages are extended to include test scenarios. While integrated to a CI/CD pipeline, Stratoss LM provides end-to-end test automation, covering all phases from design and service deployment to service monitoring and diagnostics.

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Esa Nyman

Monday 9 September, 2019