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Make no mistake - automated testing in DevOps maintains a fast, accurate pace for 5G

Over the last few years, I’ve had the chance to discuss the challenges of 5G with some of the world’s leading operators.

A common theme today is developing and deploying new software. Despite the market demanding faster launches, operators actually face potentially longer deployment cycles due to 5G’s complexity and more frequent software updates.

That’s why DevOps is fast becoming the norm for reducing the time and effort to create software. Continuous, automated testing is a crucial component of DevOps success.

Continuous, automated testing maintains the pace

Conventionally, in the so-called Waterfall method, software is tested in a single phase at the end of a lengthy development cycle. DevOps is a process of continuous, rapid development, making automated testing essential.

We divide this testing into four phases.

  1. The first phase, Lifecycle management validation, checks if the software is correctly enabled throughout the system. Once the network element is deployed, it is configured and the Virtual Network Functions (VNFs) integrated to verify, that they communicate with each other.
  2. The second phase examines how the software works in the network. Although this is usually done through simulators, Nokia performs this testing using real devices, making it much more realistic. This Functional regression testing ensures that not only does the new software work, for example performing a normal call and a conference call, but that it will not compromise the existing network. Unlike manual methods, automation offers increased scope of testing, allowing us to cover the entire regression test plan.  
  3. The next phase is Capacity benchmarking, which examines how the software behaves when running at a realistic capacity of tens or hundreds of thousands of users. This phase is best achieved by designing the test architecture to be scaled with simulators, making testing efficient, lower cost and fast.
  4. The final phase, Robustness testing, puts the software under extreme or unusual conditions. Different kinds of failures are simulated to ensure the system can recover.

Such automated testing is fast, taking hours instead of days, and automated reports are generated, allowing us to validate that the software is performing safely and reliably. In short, we can be sure the update is ready to be deployed.

Faster, cheaper and better

These automated methods accelerate testing dramatically, cutting the time to validate new software at one Nokia customer by 80 percent. They also produce valuable cost savings - experience with a Tier 1 operator has demonstrated savings of 62 percent.

The reliability of the results also increased by 90 percent. Automation cuts human error, giving more consistent results. Manual testing often leads to faulty software being introduced into the network, potentially damaging the customer experience.

Another major benefit is that Nokia provides the testing ‘as a service’, cutting the need for operators to invest in their own testing tools.

Automated testing is the way to go

Please read our previous blog for further insight into using DevOps in the telco industry and how it is changing the way operators and vendors work together for their mutual benefit. Continuous, automated testing is a vital part of the DevOps pipeline, delivering the agility and pace needed to compete in the 5G world.  

A demo of how Nokia is automating and implementing agile delivery of a core network, including deployment, integration and testing will be on show at Mobile World Congress in February. If you are attending the Congress, please come along to the Nokia stand (#3A10 in Hall 3) to see for yourself how DevOps can change your business.

Test automation

Share your thoughts on this topic by joining the Twitter discussion with @nokia or @nokianetworks using #5G #cloud #DevOps #ICT #innovation  

Gonçalo Jara

About Gonçalo Jara

Gonçalo takes a keen interest in how telco operators run their operations. He continuously tests new ideas that can help them do more with less.

With 14+ years in the telco industry, Gonçalo works in the Nokia Software Core Services & Care, Portfolio Lifecycle Management team, as Test Automation Services lead. He was previously a product manager at the Portuguese telco NOS and worked as head of products at InnoWave Technologies. 

Tweet us at @GoncaloJara

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