microservices testing strategy

Get the Most from Microservices Testing Strategies

Effective and efficient testing is the goal for defining a microservices test strategy. Tests must be valid and exercise the functionality of each component as well as the application as a whole. Make the most of your testing by including manual and automated testing against components, connection points, and system tests. 

What is a Microservices Testing Strategy?

Microservice test strategies represent a plan or method of providing full coverage testing within a microservice architecture. Having a microservice testing strategy is part of an overall microservices plan for software development. In a microservice software development approach the application is created by developing individual modules capable of running independently. Modules are then connected through APIs or other connectivity points to run as a full application. 

Microservices Testing Strategies

Developing a microservice testing strategy is essential for testing a microservice application suite. Creating a test strategy helps a QA testing and development team tackle the full scope of testing microservice-based applications. 

Common microservice testing types include:

Shift-left testing means testing early and during the entire development cycle starting with prototypes. Testing early combined with testing small coding increments helps find and address issues quickly and simply. It’s more efficient and productive for developers to fix as they code rather than returning later and trying to debug or troubleshoot an issue. 

Service virtualization is used to model or simulate the behavior of dependencies that are not yet in the code. For example, third-party services or applications, APIs, or messaging systems a microservice module interacts with. Service virtualization enables testing to continue during the entire development cycle. 

Canary testing means taking a group of users and having them acceptance test functionality iteratively to ensure the application is ready for production. Consider doing a canary test run for each microserve module to help flush out defects before the full application is released to production. 

Chaos engineering is a microservice testing strategy for identifying issues with resiliency and failover. In other words, what happens when dependencies fail or there is an error in an application functionality? Does it stall completely, crash, or fail gracefully? 

Continuous testing means exactly what it says. Testing continues from day one to the production release. Instead of scheduling test execution after development is complete, testing simply continues day in and day out until the production-ready application is complete. 

Load testing is a microservice test strategy that is handy for ensuring each microservice module handles a designated load. It’s related to performance testing. Load testing ensures the application handles variances in network, connectivity, and system speeds under different usage levels. 

Resiliency or Failover testing ensures microservice modules manage errors and failures adequately. It usually involves reviewing logs and generating failure scenarios to ensure the microservice responds appropriately. 

Tips to ensure the success of your microservices testing strategy

Successful microservices testing strategies start with reviewing the microservice development plan and architecture. It’s important to understand how the system is designed to function and the role of each microservice. 

Successful microservice testing strategies include:

  • Verifying the microservice architecture and design.
    • Understand how it works to identify defects better and create valid tests. 
  • Implement automated testing that’s intuitive to edit repeatedly.
    • Automating tests from the start helps save time and increase test consistency and repeatability.
    • Automated testing is useful but not required for continuous testing.
    • Consider using a modular test design pattern that mirrors each microservice.
  • Test each microservice individually and again as a fully connected application.
    • Testing each component helps identify errors within components. 
    • Testing the fully integrated applications ensures all the connectivity functions as expected. 
  • Use diverse types of testing techniques for more thorough test coverage.
    • The greater the diversity, the more defects are found in different areas. 

Benefits of Microservices Testing Strategy

Benefits of a microservice test strategy include:

  • Each module can be deployed as a single independent unit. 
    • Easier to test, debug, and troubleshoot issues within a single functional unit.
  • Helps to parallelize development.
    • Developers can work on each module in parallel to help with coding quality.
    • Enables more focused integrated unit test development. 
  • Directs the design of test automation for cohesiveness and validity. 
    • Helps to organize test automation for a single module. 
    • Assists in creating end-to-end test automation using a modular test design. 
  • Improved time to market
    • Get your high-quality application into the hands of customers sooner. 

Challenges in Implementing Microservices Testing Strategy List

Implementing microservices testing strategies comes with a few challenges. The first is risk. Using a microservices architecture inherently introduces a high level of risk as a distributed model. In other words, there are more possible points of failure especially with integrated connections. 

Another challenge is an increase in the complexity of testing. Testing microservices involves being able to test not only each component but also all connectivity points. The breadth of testing increases when having to test application components, APIs, database connections, and messaging systems. Add to that all embedded third-party applications and you see there’s a great deal of testing to cover. 

Include time for development to create mocks of dependencies so testing is continuous throughout development. Mocks or similar constructs allow testing to continue when the final dependency code is under development. It takes additional time for developers to create working fakes to ensure testing can continue. 

Be sure to include service variability in your microservice test strategy. Service variability refers to the possible variances in service behavior and configuration between environments. Services may not behave the same way in production as they do in a development or staging system. 

Conclusion

Developing a comprehensive and detailed microservices testing strategy helps uncover risks and ensure effective test coverage. Take the time to understand the microservice architecture and design to ensure valid test development. 

Microservice application development provides multiple benefits including improved productivity and time to market. Microservices provide a component-based system that is simpler to develop, debug, and identify defects during development. Production releases can be better controlled to prevent customer issues resulting in a higher-quality application. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Can we reuse our existing regression tests for microservice testing?
    1. Possibly. If your team has developed modular functional tests it may be possible to reuse them. 
  2. Who does the testing for microservices? Is it a QA task?
    1. Either or both. Some tests may be implemented within the code base by developers. Others may be created and executed by QA testers. 
  3. Is microservice integration testing necessary?
    1. Yes. Testing only each component leaves integration to chance. Integration testing finds issues with connected systems. 
  4. Can you add microservices to a non-microservice architecture?
    1. Yes. Some applications use microservices to perform only specific functions.

What is the test approach for microservices?

Microservices testing strategies vary but include four cornerstone testing types include:

  • Unit 
    • Consider unit tests built directly into the code for each service.
  • Integration
    • Can be built from unit tests or executed manually or with automated tests that exercise all connection points. 
  • Component
    • Test each component individually.
  • End-to-End or System
    • Can be combined with integration testing to ensure the application functions as a whole. 

See image 1 below for an example of a test strategy for microservices:

Microservices testing strategies

How do you automate microservices testing?

All testing needs planning to improve both effectiveness and efficiency. Save yourself time, energy, and increase productivity with solid test strategy planning. Test automation is an excellent example of how a good project can go wrong without planning. 

Build successful test automation by:

  • Setting realistic goals that result in creating valid test automation. 
  • Select which testing types to test with automation. 
  • Prioritize what you automate for the greatest effectiveness. 
  • Use a modular automated test design to make test automation more maintainable.




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