Continuous testing is healthy testing

In a DevOps driven world there is a great deal of emphasize on monitoring which could cause ‘data hypochondria’ if you are not careful. In order to keep up with business demands and new technology continuous monitoring and analytics are a necessity. The value of the data being gathered depends on the actuality and context provided by the human observer or consumer of that data. Therefor we need to separate false positives from false negatives.

This is where I draw the analogy with human healthcare and more specifically commercial assessment scans that you can buy to scan your private health indicators (from multiple day full body scans, to smart watches). Being healthy and feeling healthy are both objective and subjective observations of the complex systems that we are. I will provide examples showing that we use similar quality judgments (as we describe our health) when we discuss IT systems by saying things like: “The service looks healthy”, “The website is life”, “The heartbeat signal is interrupted”, “the drives are infected”.

As our human body and health can marvel us so can the data derived from it become overwhelming. We need careful filtering and testing to gather the facts that are relevant. As our health is a continuous process (during our lifetime) we cannot take the signals that it provides for granted so continuous measurement and judgement of the data is required, however we should not forget to actually live without too much worry. I will give a few examples drawing further on the health analogy to show the continuous nature of complex systems and how they transform and sometimes even mutate. As change is a given, we need to adapt in a way that is both ‘healthy’, productive and fun.

To conclude: in order to find a nice balance, we need testing to provide valuable insights to make good (healthy) decisions.

About Albert-Jan van Blaaderen
Albert-Jan works for 15+ years in software testing in both management and principal executive roles. Acts as a liaison between product development and technical services. Likes technical challenges, troubleshooting and root-cause analysis. Lives in the Netherlands with his girlfriend and three cats, enjoys travelling, fencing and sipping mezcal.

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