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DevOps & Beyond: Tech Mahindra’s Continued Focus on Testing Automation

Tech Mahindra Testing Services recently briefed NelsonHall on several of its IP investments, specifically around DevOps, its Integrated Automation Framework (iAF), and its connectors for scriptless automation software products.

Software testing remains a labor-intensive activity, and the main testing automation software products continue to be mostly used in test execution. IT services vendor IPs therefore remain a must-do activity for bridging gaps in test automation. Testing automation becomes even more important as clients, vendors and investors now turn their attention to robotic process automation and AI for BPS and IT services activities.

In the last two years, the nature of IPs has evolved beyond traditional repositories of test cases to be reused across clients to solutions capable of responding to specific automation needs such as SWIFT protocol testing or pair-wise testing (for determining the optimal number of test cases). Innovation in IPs and accelerators now lies in covering the full testing process lifecycle from requirements definition to test execution. In short, these new IPs (‘meta-IPs’) integrate across traditional IPs and in particular testing frameworks, open source tools and COTS.

Meta Tools & DevOps

With this in mind, Tech Mahindra continues to develop its DevOps offering. The company initially developed its core DevOps offering around CA Technologies’ service virtualization and application release automation software products, and expanded with testing environment provisioning and developing a virtualized mainframe testing service.

Tech Mahindra has introduced its new DevOps offering, Continuous Test Management (CTM) IP. CTM includes new features, e.g. scheduling and executing test script batches and existing functionality – service virtualization (whether based on CA Technologies, its preferred vendor, or around IBM’s Green Hat software products), and model-based testing (based on Conformiq software testing products).

What’s interesting about CTM is not so much its features but the integration of functionality. CTM helps automate the testing lifecycle from the test design phase, using model-based testing (and UML diagrams) or templates (mostly specific around telecom equipment input and output data formats) to the creation of test cases and then test scripts and scheduled execution, using its Integrated Automation Framework (iAF, see below,). In short, CTM has integrated the Dev part of DevOps activities.

CTM goes further: Tech Mahindra is gearing it up for managing several application releases in parallel and running those releases in batches, either immediately or scheduled. The intention is to accommodate the needs of applications developed and tested as agile, with several releases, by offering as much automation as possible.

Tech Mahindra is also working on the next step of automation which is related to AI, around root cause analysis. Currently, CTM offers the ability to categorize causes for test failures. Tech Mahindra is developing an algorithm to provide suggestions for root cause analysis of test failures, though this is work in progress.

Tech Mahindra has used CTM for about a year. The testing practice estimates that it could potentially automate up to 85% of test case design activities and 75% of test case execution. This is a high number as Tech Mahindra believes the only constraint to CTM adoption is the economics of certain COTS, rather than technology.

Adoption of CTM is still nascent. Tech Mahindra sells CTM as a software product. It has one large client who has used CTM over 25 applications.

Integrated Automation Framework

Tech Mahindra also continues to invest in other initiatives such as its Integrated Automation Framework (iAF). iAF is a testing framework intended to be used by career testers (and potentially by business users) but not by automation specialists. iAF relies on standard English-based semantics that make its usage easier than traditional testing product scripting language. iAF training time for career testers is just three days and, to date, Tech Mahindra has 20 clients using iAF.

Testing Services has expanded its framework capabilities from supporting Selenium and HP QTP, to mobile app testing, web services testing, database testing and API testing. iAF now integrates with HP QC/ALM, Testlink, Mantis, Microsoft TFS, and continuous integration tools including Jenkins, Hudson and Bamboo. Of all these new features, the company highlights its salesforce.com and mobile app testing capabilities within iAF:

  • Salesforce.com (SFDC): early work with iAF showed automation effectiveness of SFDC at ~40%. Tech Mahindra has made iAF more configurable to adapt to SFDC specificities, e.g. time-out  in security testing or changes in the SFDC user interface
  • Mobile apps: support for most OS, browsers and cross-browser testing of native, web and hybrid apps.

Scriptless Testing Tools Connectors

Finally, IPs targeted at point issues remain very important and Tech Mahindra continues its focus here too. Testing Services has developed “Scriptless Connectors” (interfaces) for connecting/integrating test management tools and defect management tools with two main scriptless automation testing software products: Tosca from ISV Tricentis and Testing Anywhere.

Tricentis is an ISV focused on automated model-based testing, while Testing Anywhere provides a number of scriptless options, a traditional test recording approach (based on objects, images or actions), or based on application simulation.

Deployment time for Scriptless Connectors to testing professionals’ desktops is very short (measured in minutes). The company is currently reviewing its clients proactively to identify which have invested in Tosca and Testing Anywhere.

NelsonHall Perspective

Of the IP and accelerator initiatives Tech Mahindra Testing Services is building, the most interesting and relevant to clients is DevOps testing. The value proposition of such a DevOps IP is no more about the relevancy and effectiveness of a specific feature, but of the full process. The software testing services industry now has two main levers for improving testing processes: process improvement thanks to the traditional TMMI and TMap methodologies, and now with meta-IPs.

The approach taken by Tech Mahindra (but also by the leading vendors in this space) is modular. This means, at least in theory, that the DevOps meta-IP can integrate with existing client software product license investments or with products with enhanced point features.

With regards to DevOps specifically, Tech Mahindra is doing a good job expanding its meta-IP initially from service virtualization to the full Dev process. Of course, the next step is to automate the Ops process, i.e. driving experience from operations/production back into the testing and development process. The first step probably starts with ITSM tools and tickets, but there is more to come. It’s certainly an exciting time for the software testing market.  

NelsonHall will cover Tech Mahindra’s automation IPs and initiatives in much more detail in its H2 2015 update of Tech Mahindra’s software testing profile. For more information, please contact Guy Saunders at [email protected]

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