The startup changing the future of software testing: Interview

By Sam Brake Guia November 1, 2018

Testing is an essential part of any processes in order for a product to be released, and the software industry is no different. In fact, some recent headlines have floated the idea that software testing is an underrated profession. However, thanks to the work of one innovative startup, software testing is heading for an upgrade which could dramatically change this industry and the professionals in it.

Ram Shanmugam, co-founder, CEO and President of AutonomiQ

Ram Shanmugam, co-founder, CEO and President of AutonomiQ

AutonomiQ is a cloud platform that enables product and IT teams to autonomously test, release and deploy software, thereby increasing the velocity of software releases without compromising quality. To get a better understanding of the company and what it is working on, we spoke with Ram Shanmugam, co-founder, CEO and President of AutonomiQ.

There appears to be a big gap in the market for what you are doing, providing an alternative to the “Goliaths” out there. Are there others out there doing what you are doing, and if so, how do you differentiate yourself from them?

There are a few vendors that are offering automation capabilities in software testing. We have heard our customers refer to them as “legacy” test automation, for the following reasons –

1) They were designed to work with applications that were designed ~20 or 30 years back. So yes, they fulfill test automation needs for a small and shrinking pool of applications in the customer environment.

2) They were not designed ground-up to be cloud-native and SaaS friendly. In other words, they were designed in a different era when there was no cloud, no SaaS and no micro-services. The world is very different now.

3) The other critical factor that has changed in the customer environment is the speed, complexity and volume of software releases and changes. The previous generation tools were designed when customers were still using “waterfall” approaches to software engineering and you didn’t have the same level of speed, complexity and volume of changes that you are seeing today and therefore these tools just cannot keep up.

We have designed our solution with these new set of requirements, with a view to what the future looks like and tightly inter-weaving intelligence and automation to ensure that we can keep up with the speed, complexity and volume of changes that our customers are seeing today and will see in the future.

We have taken this one-step further, and brought in autonomous technology to this space. With our autonomous technology, our customers can dramatically increase the speed and comprehensiveness of testing, without any incremental manual effort.

Why has manual testing been so prevalent for so long when it is considered highly inefficient and ineffective?

Just to clarify, we are not saying that manual testing is inefficient and ineffective. We are saying that when you combine testing with applications that are being built with DevOps speed, on the cloud, using new paradigms like micro-services, APIs, and SaaS etc., then manual approaches tend to not be able to catch up.

In our customer interactions, we see the value multiply when customers are starting to use –

1) Agile and DevOps in their software engineering lifecycle. This starts to increase the speed at which software needs to be engineering and tested, and eventually surpasses the ability for pure manual or legacy automation techniques to keep up.

2) Use of cloud, SaaS, APIs and micro-services in the software architecture. This starts to impact the complexity of use-cases needed to be tested which manual or legacy approaches cannot adequately address.

3) Increase emphasis on reducing risk. One of the unfortunate by-products of increased software engineering velocity is the inability to adequately test for risk in the software. We need an entirely new approach to software testing, where we are able to find all the corner cases that will help reduce the risk of software that is being delivered.

Addressing this situation requires a thinking outside the box approach, that leverages new techniques and fundamental research. As Einstein said, “doing the same thing and expecting a different outcome is the definition of insanity”. We decided to really think unconventionally and not limit our design approach with the current set of limitations, and the result has been a truly “autonomous” testing solution that addresses all these issues for our customers.

What was the main motivator to solve this problem, for example, did it arise from a personal experience or something you recognized others having issues with?

Most of us come from working in large software companies or have personally built software products, and testing was something we constantly struggled to keep up with. The key motivation was personal and see how we can address this problem for our own needs, and the result was something truly interesting an differentiated.

Disclosure: This article includes a client of an Espacio portfolio company