Testing in the Agile Age: An Interview with Alon Girmonsky

[interview]
Summary:

In this interview, BlazeMeter founder and CEO, Alon Girmonsky, digs into why modern businesses must adopt agile methodologies. He talks about the advantages agile has over waterfall as well as how shorter iteration windows within the testing process affect manual hand-offs.

Josiah Renaudin: Today, I am joined by BlazeMeter founder and CEO, Alon Girmonsky. Alon, thank you very much for joining me.

Alon Girmonsky: My pleasure, Josiah. How are you this morning?

Josiah Renaudin: I'm great. I'm happy that I feel like I got your name right. That was the biggest challenge today. From here on out, it's all easy.

Alon Girmonsky: Good start.

Josiah Renaudin: First, could you tell us just a bit about your experience in the industry?

Alon Girmonsky: Sure, sure. My pleasure. BlazeMeter, where I’m the founder and CEO, was launched in late 2011. Ever since, we've been serving over 60,000 users, among which are many Fortune 2000 companies such as Adobe, Cubic Corporation, Direct TV, Disney, Pfizer, Thompson Reuters, and also Walmart.

Josiah Renaudin: You wrote an article this year about testing in the agile age. Why do you think people must adopt agile methodologies in order for modern businesses to survive?

Alon Girmonsky: First, I need to tell you that agile, in general, is something that fascinates me. It's something that is changing the way we think, the way we work, and everything. Agility basically facilitates competitiveness. To compete in today's environment, you must act and react fast, otherwise your competition will simply beat you to it. Today, the barrier to compete is minimal, and the only way to defend one's stature is by innovating in short iterations and basically meaning adopting agile.

Josiah Renaudin: A lot of people previously have been using a waterfall methodology. When I started writing about tech, when I got into the business, that's what a lot of people were talking about. Now agile is taking over as something that just seems faster and more efficient. Can you talk about the advantages agile has over waterfall?

Alon Girmonsky: Sure. I think only five years ago, many organizations used waterfall methodology and now agile is the dominant way to go to on with things. Product lifecycle is built out of iteration. During the waterfall age, iteration from product marketing specification through design, development, QA, deployment … usually took many months to complete. In the agile age, a typical iteration takes from a few days for a minor release to a few weeks to a major release.

What agile enables you to do is to survive in a highly competitive market. It also allows you to go to market faster and test the waters, so to speak, correcting mistakes and perfecting your business model quickly. And these are only a few of the advantages that agile bestows onto you.

Josiah Renaudin: Moving onto a little bit of a different subject, how have shorter iteration windows within the testing process affected manual hand-offs between development and QA? How big a role does continuous delivery really play in the industry these days?

Alon Girmonsky: Interesting you ask this question. A manual hand-off cannot be considered agile at all. It causes friction to any agile process. A true agile process is completely automated. It must be, otherwise you cannot predict for sure the time to release and the quality of the release. So far, the industry has dealt with taking the development and deployment profits to agile. While testing is the next chapter, as I believe, in the continuous delivery book.

Josiah Renaudin: You've been in the industry for a while. You've seen a lot of different changes in technology and changes in different patterns, like we say from waterfall to agile. If you don't mind, let's look a bit towards the future and make a few predictions. We just talked about continuous delivery. How prevalent will it be among developers in the near future?

Alon Girmonsky: I believe, first, also to answer that question you asked earlier, I believe continuous delivery plays a critical role and it facilitates agile, and without it there is no agility in the process. As for a 2015 trend, I see that testing will become inherent to the continuous delivery process. It will become fully automated and predictable. No manual hand-offs and avoiding any compromise to release quality.

I think that continuous delivery will be extremely popular in the coming year. I think that the industry has solved the first half of continuous delivery, which is continuous iteration. The second half, continuous deployment, is also becoming very popular. I believe the next chapter, as I mentioned, will be continuous testing. All three, by the way, represent continuous delivery.

Josiah Renaudin: You had just mentioned automation. That's the thing I want to talk about next. Automated mobile testing. We need it with all the different types of devices that are out there. You never really know what kind of phone someone is using, or what iteration they're using. Will this style of testing become more mainstream down the line?

Alon Girmonsky: If you look at any modern application, you will see it has a back end and several front ends. Web, mobile, and soon even wearable, like watches and clothes. At any point in time, you will need to be able to test API, regression, performance, and also obviously user interface. You will need to test the UI on various operating systems and devices. Organizations should strive to have all testing become obviously fully automated.

As for testing devices, devices-to-mobile will basically become as computers-to-browsers. At one point, as I believe, you will care less about the actual device and more about the operating system and the application.

Josiah Renaudin: One of the predictions that you've made in the past is that GUI tools will no longer be needed in the future. What makes you think this shift will happen?

Alon Girmonsky: It's very simple. I'm referring to testing tools. If the testing process will in fact become automated without any human intervention, no GUI is required. You will operate testing the same way you operate continuous utilization and continuous deployment tools, using consideration and recipes. By the way, since BlazeMeter is a backup testing tool, we are already prepared for that. Anything you can do to very rich UI, you can also be using an ATI and supporting DSL languages.

For example, whatever you could do with a very rich UI, now you can do full code.

Josiah Renaudin: It's very smart of you to do that. I think it's important, especially in an industry like ours, where stuff is always changing. There's always new devices out there, there's always new methodologies. It sounds like you're future-proofing, in a way. You're understanding the trends that are happening and you're making those adjustments to your products in order to support those changes.

Alon Girmonsky: We try to, yes.

Josiah Renaudin: I mean, as long as you try [laughs]. Now to close, to move on to the last question. What one prediction can you make right now for us that you think will have the most significant impact on the industry?

Alon Girmonsky: I believe the Internet of Things will take over the industry. If mobile was the first "device," now we will see an infestation of different devices all speaking to each other and making our lives easier and more interesting. This will take industry to a whole different level of intercommunication between devices, ATI, and obviously cloud services.

My final note to you is … welcome to the Matrix.

Josiah Renaudin: That's the perfect way to end it. All right. Thank you very much for your time, Alon, and hopefully I can talk to you in the future and maybe some of these predictions will come true and I can point this interview and say, "Well, he already knew."

Alon Girmonsky: First, it's definitely my pleasure, and we live at a time of a revolution, basically. Everything is changing. It's very tough to predict. But let's touch base to see if my predictions were on track.

Josiah Renaudin: Absolutely. I appreciate your time. You have a great day.

Alon Girmonsky: Thank you very, very much. You too.

Alon GirmonskyAlon brings over twenty years of technological expertise and innovation to the creation of BlazeMeter. Prior to founding BlazeMeter, he served as the CTO, VP technologies for Taldor and was co-founder of iWeb Technologies (acquired by Global Media Online, 2002), a Young & Rubicam backed New Media Company. Alon began his career in the technology sector as an officer in the software division of Israel's Defence Force Intelligence unit.

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