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Accelerate Test Automation with Containerization

Augmenting Software Development with Containerization in Automation Testing

March 30, 2023
 by 
Rohan SinghRohan Singh
Rohan Singh

Introduction

The testing community is currently focused on revolutionizing the way testing is conducted through containerization in automation testing. With the need to make testing faster and more embedded in continuous delivery pipelines, containerized testing has become increasingly popular. Gone are the days of drawn-out testing projects; testers now have limited time to test new software batches. To combat this issue, automation and parallelization are being leveraged, and technologies like Docker are at the forefront of this movement. Docker enables teams to spin up different containers with a local laptop or cloud service, allowing for concurrency at the level of "a hundred of parallel machines." With containerization in automation testing, a multi-container strategy reduces and solves bottlenecks, transforming the way testing fits into the CI/CD pipeline.

Read: A Comprehensive Guide on Automated Testing

This blog focuses on Docker, synonymous with containers, and how it can be used for containerized automated tests in various scenarios. Containerization is not limited to testing but is used in every phase of the software release life cycle. This blog further explores the implementation of containerization for testing purposes.

Containerization: What Is It and How Does It Enhance Automation?

Containerization allows developers to package software code and required OS libraries and dependencies into lightweight containers that run consistently across any infrastructure. Compared to virtual machines, containers are more portable and resource-efficient and have become a standard for modern cloud-native applications.

Containerization enables faster and more secure application deployment, eliminating issues from transferring code between different computing environments. Containers share the machine's OS kernel, making them inherently smaller in capacity and requiring less start-up time, resulting in higher server efficiencies and reduced costs.

Containerization is also increasingly being used for testing docker containers and containerized automated tests in the Software release life cycle. It allows for easy fault isolation, simplified security, and easy management. The adoption of containerization technology is accelerating and has become a popular choice among organizations for building new applications and modernizing existing ones for the cloud.

Also read: Pros and Cons of key test automation frameworks

Why Is Containerization Beneficial for Automation?

Containerization provides significant benefits to development teams in various ways. Some of these benefits include:

  • Portability: Containers offer the ability to create an executable package of software that is portable and able to run consistently across any platform or cloud.
  • Speed: Containers are lightweight and share the machine's OS kernel, which reduces server and licensing costs and speeds up start times.
  • Agility: Containers provide a universal packaging approach working on both Linux and Windows operating systems, enabling developers to use agile or DevOps tools and processes for rapid application development and enhancement.
Related Blog: How Does Continuous Testing Accelerate DevOps?
  • Efficiency: Containers offer faster start-up times, enabling multiple containers to operate on a single compute capacity compared to a single VM. This leads to increased server efficiency and reduced costs associated with server usage and licensing.
  • Fault isolation: Each containerized application operates independently of others, and the failure of one container does not have any impact on the continued operation of any other containers, enabling development teams to identify and correct technical issues without any downtime in different containers.
  • Security: Containers isolate applications to prevent malicious code from harming other containers or the host system, and security permissions can be defined to block unwanted components from entering containers or restrict communications with unnecessary resources.
  • Ease of management: Container orchestration platforms automate the installation, scaling, and management of containerized workloads as well as services, easing management tasks, including scaling containerized apps, launching new versions of apps, and providing monitoring, logging, and debugging.

In the field of automation testing, containerization provides a way to create and run containerized automated tests, enabling developers to test their software in a consistent and reproducible environment.

Check out: The Essence of Shift-Left Testing in Organizations Today

What Are Some Ways Software Testers May Embrace Containers In Test Automation?

Testing new builds is critical to ensure consistent core functionality of an application. With the automation of installation and configuration of dependencies through containerization in continuous deployment, manual testing may no longer be necessary. Automated build tests using continuous integration tools like Jenkins can be leveraged for testing docker containers. However, manual testers can still add value by becoming experts in business use cases and using techniques like exploratory testing. Automation testers should develop quick and robust tests that run in parallel across multiple environments created by Docker for automation testing. Testing techniques can transition from UI-driven tests to direct API interaction to achieve faster and less brittle tests. Effective processes must be developed to identify and fix script defects quickly to prevent interruption of the build process by problems in the test automation.

Also check: Continuous Monitoring and it's types

Container-Based Setup with Docker

The use of containerization has rapidly increased in the market, particularly in test automation, where Docker is widely implemented. Let's explore the different areas where containerization can be leveraged for automation testing.

With their resource isolation capabilities provided by the Namespace API, Docker containers have become a popular choice for containerization in automation testing. Their lightweight nature, as they do not launch the entire OS, allows ten or more instances to be run simultaneously on a single server, making them highly efficient and providing extensive coverage for testing scenarios.

Read: Gaps to Avoid in UI Test Automation Strategy

Here are some benefits of containerized testing using Docker:

  • Containers provide consistency in the environment, making tests highly repeatable without worrying about environmental factors and dependencies.
  • Dependencies and configurations are established once and can be used throughout the SDLC for continuous testing.
  • Supports versioning, making it easy to roll back to the previous version.
  • Well-managed test suits that are easy to set up and execute.

● Web Automation Testing Using Docker

When it comes to Web Automation Testing, integrating Docker with Selenium Grid provides an efficient solution. Selenium Grid is used to configure the distributed execution of automation tests by using a hub and many nodes, where each node can have a different execution environment. However, setting up a grid can be time-consuming, but Docker simplifies the process. 

Let's check out the steps for setting up a Docker-based Selenium Grid for automation testing:

  • Download and install the Docker Toolbox for Windows or Linux machines.
  • Install Docker image for Selenium Hub and for each node to configure.
  • Start Selenium Hub from the Docker container.
  • Start Selenium nodes, ensuring different nodes have different browsers for cross-browser testing.
  • Start executing test cases.
Also read: Everything you need to know about Selenium automation testing

One significant advantage of this approach is its efficiency in running test cases on different operating systems and browsers once set up. Docker for automation testing provides an excellent solution for Web Automation Testing using Selenium Grid.

● Continuous Integration with Docker

Continuous testing involves running tests automatically every time a developer updates a module to ensure that changes don't negatively impact other system components. Containerized automated testing can simplify this process by standardizing the deployment of app testing and simulating production environments accurately. Docker can achieve this standardization by executing modules in containers that simulate the production environment on a local machine. To automate containers, Docker Compose can be used to build identical testing environments for apps and include all their dependencies for each testing cycle. Standard test procedures can be authored in this way to reduce errors, especially in the repetition of phases.

Related Blog: Continuous Testing: A Complete Guide.

How Can HeadSpin’s Platform Enhance Continuous Automated Testing with Containerization?

The HeadSpin Platform is a powerful tool for enterprises looking to implement continuous testing in their DevOps process. Key components for successful continuous testing include continuous automation, continuous integration, and continuous delivery, all of which are supported by the HeadSpin Platform. The following testing processes are integral to the HeadSpin Platform's comprehensive testing capabilities across applications, devices, and networks for mobile, web, IoT, and 5G technologies:

  • Integrated Testing: Seamlessly integrate with load-testing platforms like LoadRunner and Jmeter.
  • Automated Testing: Support all major testing automation frameworks, such as Appium, Selenium, XCTest, Espresso, and more.
  • Continuous Monitoring: Provide 24/7 access to any device, running any application on any network worldwide for continuous quality assurance. 

Containerization in automation testing is also facilitated by the HeadSpin Platform, allowing for smooth deployment and simulation of production environments.

Conclusion

Containerization is a valuable solution for continuous testing as it ensures consistency across environments, reducing the number of discrepancies between development and QA teams. This enables end-users, testers, and programmers to see and test the same application, eliminating potential issues.

HeadSpin Platform supports the entire software development lifecycle with continuous testing features like CI/CD integration, automated critical user journeys, performance regression, and API usage monitoring.

Experience streamlined continuous testing with HeadSpin.

Book a trial.

FAQs

Q1. What impact will containerization have on DevOps?

Ans: Containerization involves encapsulating a software component, along with its dependencies, configuration, and environment, into a self-contained unit known as a container. As a result, applications can be deployed uniformly across any computing environment, be they cloud-based or on-premises.

Q2. Is it possible to run many programs in one container?

Ans: To maximize the benefits of Docker, it's recommended to avoid having one container responsible for multiple aspects of your application, even though it's possible to have multiple processes in a container. Instead, you can connect multiple containers using shared volumes and user-defined networks.

Q3. Is containerization classified as IaaS or PaaS?

Ans: Container as a Service (CaaS) is a cloud-based service that falls between Platform as a Service (PaaS) as well as Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) models. It is often considered a subset of IaaS and uses containers as the basic resource instead of virtual machines.

Augmenting Software Development with Containerization in Automation Testing

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