Continuous Testing and Open Source Integration: An Interview with Alex Martins

[interview]
Summary:

In this interview, Alex Martins, the CTO of continuous quality at CA Technologies, explains how continuous testing, continuous integration, and open source testing tools can help modern software teams keep up with the speed and demands of agile.

Jennifer Bonine: All right, we are back with another virtual interview before our next technical presentation. And Alex, you happen to work for the company giving the next technical presentation.

Alex Martins: That's correct.

Jennifer Bonine: All right. So Alex, in case you haven't seen, works for CA. Alex, tell us a little bit about how did you get to CA? And what's that journey look like for you?

Alex Martins: It's been an interesting journey. I've always been on the other side of the tables. CA, as a software company, as a vendor, I've always been on the other side as the customer—like CA and other companies as well, working for HP Enterprise Services, EDS, Cognizant Technology, and a few other companies. It came to a point where we were really developing a lot of technologies to really bring testing to a different level. When I was talking to CA, I just felt like they had a good portfolio that was really going the direction where I felt testing needed to go, being a practitioner myself.

About nine months ago I joined the software company to try and really start changing the market.

Jennifer Bonine: How interesting for folks out there that are customers right now, seeing that it should make everyone feel good that someone who used to be a customer who lived in their shoes, who had to deal with the pain and the things that keep you up at night is now on the side of helping solve those challenges, right? And coming from that perspective of a been there, done that, and I know what works and doesn't work, and helping inject that into what you guys are doing right now.

Alex Martins: Exactly. That's really my main role as the CTO for continuous testing. In our continuous delivery unit, it's really about not just about the products and the services and the solutions, it's really about how do we adopt and scale in a real customer environment, right? Working in an agile landscape or a waterfall traditional, and how do we really influence the transformations around testing in the SDLC, how do we help teams shift to the left, not just with products, but really with practices and etymologies that can help customers get there?

Jennifer Bonine: Exactly. We hear a lot of those terms, and there's software out there. There's also open source. So, as a company, what are you guys looking at or doing to make sure you're, like you mentioned, agile and adapting quickly so that people understand that just because you're a structured software company doesn't mean you can't deliver quickly and get them updates and changes and new functionality that they want? Because technology's moving so quickly.

Alex Martins: It is, and nobody can keep up. It's just one of those things. As a practitioner, we had to deal with so many tools that were coming up every week, basically.

Jennifer Bonine: Right. Brand-new tools all the time that pop up and you're like, "What do I do with this? And do I need it? I don't know."

Alex Martins: Exactly. How does that fit into my testing strategy? It's always a challenge. And now being on the software side of things, it's really about integrating with those different tools. It's very hard these days with all the speed that everybody needs and the quality to really stick to one single end-to-end platform. That is just like, we don't find customers that have environments that are unified in one single platform. The ones that are, are trying to get out of that simply because like we were saying, things changes so fast and there's always something better to explore. Right now what we're focusing on is really on connecting and the interfacing with the open source and commercial side of things.

Jennifer Bonine: Right. And that's kind of ... I had a session earlier this week and we talked about IOT and creating that secret sauce below the surface, kind of the ice berg model. But having that open API where you allow people to connect to what they need to connect to. So CA as a brand is really what I'm hearing, embracing that capability to know we're gonna let you connect to other stuff too that we know you probably need in conjunction with what we offer you.

Alex Martins: Absolutely. And it's all about that integration. We give the customers freedom to choose the best of tools in the open source world or commercial world. And we believe that we have the best pieces of that puzzle that will augment their existing diverse landscape. And it's truly about that integration. There's no way in what customers require today that they're gonna stick to one single platform.

Jennifer Bonine: That's great to hear. That's kind of a mindset shift in terms of where software companies are going and it's great to see people like yourself coming over and helping them understand how to shift and how to keep up because things change all the time. Now, from a customer perspective, any particular trends you're seeing? Or things they're telling you they're begging for or wanting and needing right now?

Alex Martins: Absolutely. Continuous testing is the big topic of the hour, everybody's talking about continuous testing. One thing that I like to point out is, as having been on that other side of the customer side, it's not really about transforming just the testing practices from QA team, it's really about going all the way to the left really where everything start with the requirements, through the BAs, if you still have a BA organization, or if you have a more agile organization with product owners. It's really starting with them, working with them so that you can accelerate your testing and derive as many testing assets at the unit level, component integration level, system level from the beginning. And not just thinking this is a testing team that needs to get better and use better tools and so forth.

Jennifer Bonine: Are you guys advocating that test driven development or some form of that, right? Where you actually ... Testers play, I think, a really neat role right now where they can help architect, having people like the architects, the product owners, think through, "What does this actually gonna look like sooner in the process?"

Alex Martins: It's a very interesting journey and the interests keep changing all the time, but basically, test-driven development is certainly a practice that developers are starting to see benefits if they invest the time to learn it. And it's becoming more and more natural for the developers that are doing that. We're seeing a lot of testers starting to help them through acceptance test-driven development by giving them acceptance tests so they can code against after their test-driven development unit test that they create. It's an interesting shift of how an approach, like TVD is helping testers work better together with developers and then start right from the beginning as opposed to looking for problems later on.

Jennifer Bonine: Right, just shifting all that farther up front, shifting left. If people ... Our time goes so fast. I know people want to catch the CA ITP to learn more. If people have more questions and want to learn more about CA and your product roadmap and what's coming in this space, where can we direct them?

Alex Martins: Ca.com. And we have a great blog series called Excuse-Free Testing that's really walking developers and testers through that journey from different angles, from different personas. Just look it up. #excusefreetesting across social media as well as in our ca.com website, and it's a great starting point.

Jennifer Bonine: Awesome. Thanks for joining us, and we appreciate having you and the insights, and we'll look forward to having people join CA's technical presentation up next.

Alex Martins: Absolutely. Thank you.

Jennifer Bonine: Thanks, Alex.

Alex MartinsAlex Martins is a practitioner with more than 18 years of experience in large-scale application design, development and testing. For the last 13 years Alex has been focused on software quality engineering and testing discipline. Going through all levels, from Tester to Practice Leader in various technology companies such as EDS, IBM Global Services, HP Enterprise Services, Cognizant Technology Solutions and CA Technologies, Alex built and ran several Enterprise Testing Organizations in Latin America and the US for multiple clients. He led HP’s Global Testing Innovation capability and was one of the innovation leaders in Cognizant's Mobile and IoT QA practice. More recently he joined CA Technologies to help organizations truly accelerate their Continuous Delivery pipeline by shifting left through Continuous Testing. Alex is passionate about increasing software quality through defect prevention across the entire SDLC.

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