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Bell Media

Contino Helps Bell Media Speed up Deployment and Release Times With Test Automation

The Client

Bell Media is Canada's leading content creation company with premier assets in television, radio, out-of-home advertising, digital media, and more. This includes Bell Media brands like Crave, CTV, and Noovo.

The Challenge

Bell Media’s web application team in charge of delivering the Crave, CTV, and Noovo products had lengthy deployment and release times. The business wanted to have the ability to release faster and more frequently.

After an initial assessment by Contino, it was determined that they had roadblocks in their deployments and releases due to:

  • Environmental Inconsistencies
  • Unstable Test Environments
  • Lack of Test Automation
  • Poor Test Data Management
  • Unclear Acceptance Criteria
  • Siloed Teams

The Solution

Bell Media needed to apply DevOps first principles to assist with removing the identified roadblocks. These were categorized as follows:

1. System Thinking

Contino introduced the “3 Musketeers” approach for standardizing processes for build/test/deploy. This ensures the same processes are being used across the software development life cycle (SDLC) from local development to production pipelines.

We also addressed the inconsistencies with the various environments and build/deployments by containerizing the service stack. This allowed for consistent environment standup and configuration for local and CI/CD pipelines.

2. Amplify Feedback Loops

Test automation was introduced to eliminate manual testing. It also allowed testing to be shifted to earlier parts of the development lifecycle. Automated acceptance testing was the highest priority. Behavior Driven Development (BDD) using Gherkin/Cucumber was also introduced and established as a standard for the organization.

The 3 Amigos” model from BDD was leveraged and set as an operating standard for the organization in support of improving acceptance criteria codification. This model brings together the business, QA testing, and software engineering to collaborate.

3. Development Strategy and New Tooling

The existing services stack and monolithic deployment of the services was not conducive to a viable environment across all use cases and did not support practical testing.

A proof of concept (POC) was done to start to break up the monolithic services into containerized microservice with proper image promotion.

A strategy and new tooling was developed to create testing content data that was known/predictable and could be deployed in the ephemeral test environment when they were spun up.

The Business Outcome: Reduced Deployment Time from Days to an Hour

Bell Media was able to improve their overall deployment times from days to an hour. Delays in feature creation were also reduced by days with the more complete acceptance criteria. Additionally, the acceptance testing cycle was also reduced by days with their automation and repeatability.

The team's implementation of a “shift-left approach” for the development process has resulted in greater confidence in how a feature is being tested and provides assurance that failures will not be due to unstable environments.  Contino’s guided and collaborative meetings with Bell Media ensured at the beginning of conception, teams understood exactly what the desired outcome was, resulting in better estimation, less churn, and higher team dynamics.

Finally, the ability to release any microservice as needed will result in shorter and faster releases, accelerating the time to market and reducing risk.

Contino also facilitated these additional outcomes:

Upskilling: upskilling was accomplished through dual-delivery and pair-programming with Bell Media team members, to increase their capabilities in these areas.

Reusability: developed a POC on a single service for deployment to each environment following identical processes as a model for rollout to remaining services.

Standardization: established a standard for writing importable JSON content specifically for each test.

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