Testing as the Driving Force of DevOps: An Interview with Adam Auerbach

[interview]
Summary:

In this interview, Adam Auerbach, vice president of quality and DevOps engineering at Lincoln Financial Group, explains how the role of testing has changed thanks to DevOps. He also talks about how testers can lead the DevOps movement through the power of automation.

Josiah Renaudin: Welcome back to another TechWell interview. Today I am joined by Adam Auerbach, the vice president of quality and DevOps engineering at Lincoln Financial Group and a keynote speaker at this year's STARWEST conference.

Adam, thank you so much for joining us today.

Adam Auerbach: Yeah, thank you for having me. I'm excited to be a part of this.

Josiah Renaudin: Absolutely, and before we really dig into the meat of your keynote, can you tell us just a bit about your experience in the software industry?

Adam Auerbach: Sure, so, I've been in the QA world for over seventeen years. I've worked my way up from being a manual tester to working in automation performance to leading teams. Most recently I was at Capital One, where I led their enterprise QA group, and when I started at that role, we were beginning our agile transformation. Then it went to the testing framework. Then it became focused on how, as an enterprise, how do we become more around product enablement, like testing management, service virtualization, and then getting people to continuous testing, and ultimately to continuous delivery.

Then, most recently, I left Capital One, and now I'm at Lincoln and I'm helping them go through that same exact journey.

Josiah Renaudin: Because you've been in the software industry for so long you have seem, like you mentioned, agile, continuous delivery, continuous integration, and kind of start to spark up, but the crux of your keynote covers how DevOps and modern software have forced organizations to change their testing cultures. Can you just detail just how invasive DevOps has become? What about software development and testing has made DevOps so essential to success?

Adam Auerbach: Yeah, I think the big thing is when agile is here, right, and people are standing up team and sprinting, and a lot of them don't realize the true benefits of why they went to agile in the first place, which is, how do we deliver increments to our customers early and often? That's where DevOps is really hitting the ground because people are saying, "What are those impediments? What is it that's causing us to have a hardening phase or hardening sprints and still have all these extra teams doing deployments, or having to do manual testing?"

The move to agile has really helped also drive the DevOps adoption, but then you also see it in the companies that are having the most success today—the Netflixes, the Amazons, Capital One. The companies that have embraced DevOps are making a difference. They're able to spend more time on product development and innovation, and they don't have to have large groups that are only operations focused, and infrastructure groups, and whatnot. You're really seeing the beacon companies, if you will, have already embraced this and that in and of itself is driving this movement, as well.

One thing that is interesting is that, depending on where you are in the country, or what industry you're in, it might be more pervasive than another, but I think everyone is hearing the word and trying to dive in to more around, “Okay, how do we get started? How does this really apply to what we're doing?" That's what brought me over to Lincoln is that, in the insurance industry, one of the industries that maybe isn't as advanced as some of the other ones, they're feeling that same, we need to be digital, we need to get products into our customers' hand early and often, and so, how do we build out automation needed to have those efficiencies in order to do that?

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