Use ALM/Quality Center in Your Toolchain

by Micro Focus Employee in Application Delivery Management

One of the most common questions I get is whether you can use ALM/Quality Center in a CI/CD or DevOps pipeline.

Absolutely!

ALM/Quality Center’s integration capabilities have modernized significantly in recent years. Adding it to your custom toolchain is both convenient and inexpensive. Let’s go deeper to see how.

Toolchain Considerations

At this point, DevOps has been with us for more than 10 years. The vision it presents is so attractive that every company wants to do it. Technologies around DevOps have advanced greatly compared to 10 years ago. But one thing hasn’t changed—every organization’s toolchain is different.

Most refer to their toolchains as “custom” because they serve the organization’s specific needs. For that reason, the tools you choose require careful consideration.

You want your toolchain to:

  • Provide comprehensive coverage.
  • Leverage existing tools.
  • Be easy to build at a low cost.
  • Provide visibility and analytics.
  • Adapt to future changes.

Connection and Orchestration Are the Base

A DevOps toolchain is like a mechanical system with connected parts and an engine. In a toolchain, you first need a way to connect all the parts of your application lifecycle. Then you need an orchestration tool to let the machine run.

ALM/Quality Center can join that connection, with Micro Focus Connect Core as the integration hub. This hub connects over 15 popular third-party and Micro Focus tools used during various phases of the application lifecycle. Portfolio, requirement, test, release and change management, are just a few.

Atlassian Jira, Microsoft Azure DevOps, and ServiceNow are among the connectable tools. Building your toolchain with these out-of-the-box integrations is fast and cheap. Micro Focus Connect Core enables a robust, high-performance integration architecture that ensures smooth data flow in your toolchain.

Next, all the parts need to hook to the engine—the orchestration tool. ALM/Quality Center can join the popular Jenkins-driven toolchains through the Application Automation Tools plugin.

The Importance of Test Management

It’s tempting to think that test management is no longer important with automated DevOps toolchains. Why use ALM/Quality Center when there are ready-to-use toolsets and all-in-one DevOps products?

In reality, speedy automatic flows make rigorous and efficient quality management even more critical. When testing mission-critical products or services, you need the ability to manage complexity, scale, and regulatory compliance.

Nowadays, major cloud service providers include DevOps toolsets in their cloud environment. Leveraging them—especially the cloud-based pipelines—is very convenient. Meanwhile, you can use ALM/Quality Center to conduct full-blown QA. Take Microsoft Azure DevOps as an example. By synchronizing its bugs and tasks with ALM/Quality Center, you take advantage of both solutions to achieve optimal enterprise-level QA.

Maybe you’ve heard that ALM/Quality Center doesn’t work with third-party testing tools. Don’t believe it for a second. It works with a wide range of great tools through its Jenkins integration. Tools include testing, artifact management, deployment automation and many others.

The result? Your DevOps toolchain becomes even more powerful with ALM/Quality Center.

Connect Dev, QA & Ops

The purpose of DevOps is to connect dev and ops to break silos. QA is a big part of it, as dev and QA are always coupled. When you connect these teams, don’t forget that each has their favorite tools. Forcing them to migrate to something else is not optimal for productivity.

Many dev teams use Atlassian Jira, Azure Boards, or some other Agile planning tool to manage their daily development. Likewise, QA teams have ALM/Quality Center as their trusty companion.

ALM/Quality Center continues to be a highly rated test management tool that our customers endorse, as you can see from our PeerSpot ranking.

When we look at the ops side, IT Service Management tools like ServiceNow and Micro Focus SMAX are among the most popular.

Connecting these tools  

  • Gives QA a holistic view of overall product quality across multiple dev projects.
  • Offers developers immediate feedback on the quality of their work.
  • Links incidents or enhancement requests from ops (production environment) in your IT Service Management tool to the defects or requirements that the dev and QA team see in their tools.
  • Gives the ops team visibility into the progress of dev fixes or enhancements.
  • Helps the QA gets a more complete understanding of software quality because they can see defects detected both before and after release.

Analyze, Improve & Collaborate

With your tools connected, data from multiple sources can offer useful insight into where you can improve. You can leverage the analytics available in ALM/Quality Center with the built-in anomalies graph, cycle time graph, composite graph, and trend graph.

Here’re a few examples of integrating ALM/Quality Center with an IT Service Management tool:

Defect escape rate—Among the total number of defects, what percentage comes from the production environment via service management tickets? A higher rate indicates you need to improve your testing processes.

Mean time to resolution (MTTR) - The average end-to-end resolution time for customer-reported defects. You can find out how long defects stayed in which state using the cycle time graph. For example, if they stay in the “Pending Dev” state very long, you may have a capacity problem in your development team.

As you can see, such analysis across boundaries tears down the silos of individual departments.

You can take it one step further by fostering Dev-QA-Ops collaboration by enabling knowledge sharing and discussion among them. That’s why collaboration tool is an important component in a DevOps toolchain. Your teams are already using a tool like Microsoft Teams or Atlassian Confluence for collaboration. All you need to do is to bring people to the same workspace and ”hook”  their tools here— whether it’s Azure boards, ALM/Quality Center, or ServiceNow. Imagine how efficient they’ll be when tackling issues together.  

Level Up

Moving forward, you’ll find ways to finetune your toolchain. Micro Focus ValueEdge can help:

Prevent defects from code.

Testing against executables helps you detect issues in your software. But modern quality practice is shifting more to defect prevention. Many defects are avoidable by reviewing and scanning things like architecture and source code. The earlier you find defects, the less it costs to fix them.

ValueEdge Quality lets you integrate with tools like SonarQube and Fortify Static Code Analyzer to analyze code quality and security vulnerabilities. You can also track how committed changes, branches, and pull requests relate to your backlog items and defects. Moreover, you can identify risky areas in application source code and take actions to mitigate risks.

Strengthen release processes.

It can be dangerous if DevOps doesn’t control automated flow into production. Even a small increase of production defects can cost millions of dollars.

For mission-critical releases, ValueEdge enables setting up quality gates to strictly ensure quality criteria are met. Its artifacts and environments management makes everything in the production environment traceable and easy to maintain.

Gain pipeline visibility.

Pipelines can be highly complex, especially for enterprise applications. Under Agile and DevOps practices, build and test frequently happen, which creates massive pipeline run data. But what does all this data mean?

Build failures and automated test failures are also challenges. They slow you down and affect pipeline performance. How can you efficiently troubleshoot them? This is where ValueEdge comes in handy. Whether you use Jenkins, GitHub Actions, Bamboo, or GoCD—ValueEdge deliver the visibility you need.

Apply AI in analyzing data.

DevOps brings data together from all phases of application lifecycle. You can apply AI-powered analytics on these data to do many things—root cause analysis, for example.

When you bump into problematic work items—such as defects with high reopen rate—you need to investigate and learn why it happens. Specifically, what attributes are causing it.

The more attributes, the more challenging to identify root cause manually. AI, on the other hand, is very good at it. It can tell you the top three from hundreds of suspected attributes. Leverage the ValueEdge root cause analysis widget to dig into the root of problems.

Optimize value streams.

DevOps connected your Dev, QA and Ops teams, but eventually any business is to serve the customers. Are your teams together delivering value to your customers? DevOps pipelines make it possible to map software delivery processes to the stream of delivering customer value, and then measure and improve.

ValueEdge detects wastes and visualizes flow efficiency, so that you can drill down into those wastes and optimize your processes.

Conclusion

With its rich set of out-of-the-box integrations, ALM/Quality Center is a good fit for test management in your DevOps toolchains. After all, you have the advantage of using the testing assets you’ve already created.

As your DevOps practice matures, you want to get more out of it. You will care how well your pipelines perform, what activities truly deliver value to end-users, and whether there is waste you can eliminate. That’s when it’s time to adopt Micro Focus ValueEdge.

Labels:

Application Lifecycle Management
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