Hyper-Automation and AI meets IT and Application Lifecycle Management

Ram Shanmugam, Co-Founder & CEO, AutonomIQDuring the last industrial revolution, use of industrial and process automation was the only way companies were able to meet the demand for quality, speed, and quantity of industrial products. In today’s context, the demand for digital transformation is driving the need for high-quality software products. This demand for quality, speed, and quantity of software products requires intelligent product and process “automation” capabilities across the entire IT and software lifecycle.

In the software lifecycle, there are two distinct phases—the design phase is the process of writing software code, and the production phase—or the industrialization of software—encompasses the testing, deployment, and management of software after its release.

The industrialization phase of today’s IT and software lifecycle is largely a manual process, which requires developers, testers, release engineers, automation engineers, and production operations, and support to spend countless hours and resources. For example, software testing alone is a process where up to 90 percent of the tasks are done manually.

That was until now. AutonomIQ is a cloud platform that enables product, and IT teams to autonomously test, release and deploy software. Simply put, AutonomIQ has built the automation tools and platform required to automate the industrialization of IT and software products— by helping both IT organizations and software development companies to reduce or eliminate the manual steps required from testing to releasing the software, and everything in between. “We have created an automation that is the machine-equivalent of a tester, a release engineer, an automation engineer, etc.,” says Ram Shanmugam, co-founder and CEO of AutonomIQ, and a part of the elite list of Indian technologists leaving their imprint on the Silicon Valley.

AutonomIQ’s AI-based solutions are a direct response to “the new normal” with regard to software development and testing. The sheer volume of software being written is growing exponentially, and so is the velocity at which applications are being tested and released. Since first-generation dev-ops tools (DevOps 1.0) are unable to keep pace with the changes, AutonomIQ leverages the cognitive capabilities offered by AI and machine learning to automate and accelerate the release of software into the cloud. Shanmugam elaborates, “To deliver innovative software products at high velocities and exponential scale, businesses need to automate certain aspects of the software engineering pipeline, such as testing. Presently, they face acute talent shortages in modern software engineering processes. Our intelligent and cognitive automation is a game-changer, from a DevOps perspective.”

A game-changer, indeed! Since its 2018 launch, AutonomIQ’s AI-based platform has been utilized by over 500,000 developers in 130 countries, across 4,000 global enterprises.

From Manual Automation to Intelligent Automation

While DevOps 1.0 enabled automation and collaboration across all functional teams, the automation prevented organizations from reaching their goals of one-click deployments or continuous integration without manual testing. “In DevOps 1.0, automation existed, but it had to be manually set up and configured. Engineers had to write test scripts themselves, someone would have to test and maintain them, and only then would automation be possible,” explains Shanmugam.

On the other hand, DevOps 2.0—represented in the form of AutonomIQ’s solutions—moves away from manual automation to intelligent automation. The need for such a change is, again, due to the sheer volume of applications being released into the cloud. “In DevOps 1.0, the world was still testing the possibilities of the cloud and DevOps, and enterprises were not moving their core applications to the cloud. However, in DevOps 2.0, change is constant, and critical cloud-based applications need to be maintained. As such, businesses need two lanes of automation to enable their critical system applications and infrastructure to scale as well,” adds Shanmugam.

At its core, AutonomIQ increases the velocity of software releases without compromising the quality of applications. With pre-built integrations of common web applications and SaaS providers, users can instantly create test cases, generate test scripts and test data, and execute tests. Using deep-learning and AI algorithms, AutonomIQ detects changes, enables self-healing for test assets, and provides advanced diagnostics. In real-world situations, AutonomIQ has been shown to provide over 50 percent improvement in speed and quality compared to existing tools and techniques.

Just take the example of a global automobile manufacturer that leverages AutonomIQ’s solutions. Previously, it took the client approximately nine months to test its critical applications.

Since there hasn’t been any innovation for a while, we strongly believe we are on the right path to becoming the next disruptor in the industry

“They had a large team of engineers doing all the testing manually, writing the cases, generating scripts, and executing functions on the cloud,” recalls Shanmugam. After switching to AutonomIQ’s AI-based platform, the client accomplished the exact same goals within two weeks. Shanmugam adds, “They went from nine months to two weeks to test and successfully deploy a mission-critical cloud application.”

Also worth highlighting is the value AutonomIQ brought to a global financial services customer. While writing a new cloud-based application, the development team made constant modifications, delaying the launch of the software. “With every new change, they didn’t have enough time to test the application. When they finally launched the application, they had to contend with a lot of quality issues and bugs,” recounts Shanmugam, before adding that the client laid out sprint goals that the development team struggled to keep pace with. When AutonomIQ was brought onboard, the client eliminated the defects by 60 percent, discovered problems at a quicker pace, and re-released a bug-free application into the cloud. “Most importantly, we allowed them to meet their sprint goals,” adds Shanmugam.

The success stories echo the sentiments of not only enterprises but thousands of individual software developers using AutonomIQ. Shanmugam says, “We have received hundreds of thank you messages from developers across the world. Due to our AI engine, they are saving a ton of time and thereby able to focus on other critical tasks.”

The Autonomous Testing and Operations Management (ATOM) Engine

AutonomIQ is truly at the forefront of AI rewriting the rules by making automation more pervasive across the software lifecycle. The special weapon lies in the platform’s unique ATOM Engine that comprehends exactly what an application is “attempting to achieve,” and a developer/tester intends to accomplish.

This level of automation was not possible in “the old world” that predated AutonomIQ. The AI-empowered ATOM Engine automatically generates test cases, scripts, and test data by understanding the developer’s big picture intentions. “If there’s a hidden malfunction in the code, the engine immediately informs the developer of the gaps in the testing code and then proceeds to fix the same. In the old world, the developer wouldn’t have even discovered the bug until a later stage,” says Shanmugam.

The ATOM Engine is intelligent enough to ascertain the differences between “the intent of the application and the functionality that the developer/ application owner intended to deliver” and fuse the two aspects, according to Shanmugam, “Combining the two is critical to achieving faster results.”

Building Communities

Since AutonomIQ’s Developer Edition is a hit among developers across the world, Shanmugam and his team pay close attention to various scenarios that users encounter, and the feedback they receive to enhance the application. “We utilize community crowdsourced data to constantly fine-tune the AI engine’s testing algorithms. Our competitors rarely undertake this kind of approach, and are typically set in their ways,” reveals Shanmugam.

Offered as a SaaS solution, AutonomIQ’s simple onboarding process requires customers to register their details before using the software. According to Shanmugam, the platform constantly receives praise from the community for its cross-purpose, multi-domain capability. Shanmugam elaborates, “Once you capture the application intent, the same intent can be used across multiple scenarios. For example, in the case of an ecommerce application, the same intent can be used for development and testing.” The multi-domain capability allows users to automate not just testing but other software functions like release management, operations support, and eventually, the entire application lifecycle.

Another key differentiator of AutonomIQ is its 100 percent industry-agnostic technology. Although the solution has been largely adopted across industries such as financial services, healthcare, high tech, and manufacturing, Shanmugam expects other verticals to embrace its AI-enabled automated software testing sooner rather than later. “As more industries adopt cloud and DevOps, we are seeing interest from other sectors. There is nothing unique about our product that’s specific to an industry vertical,” he says.

Already a major player in the AI software testing landscape, AutonomIQ is admittedly only “scratching the surface” of its long-term vision. With billions of dollars invested annually in software testing and IT services, AutonomIQ expects to scale new peaks in due course. It will soon launch new products based on the latest applications of AI techniques in the field of neural networks, learning, and vision. “We will be releasing new capabilities in the next few releases,” reveals Shanmugam, before adding that “the integration of AI, machine learning and software engineering domain knowledge is a non-trivial problem” for its seasoned team that comprises decades of experience in solving science-related problems at leading universities.

Although AutonomIQ’s solutions essentially reduce human intervention, the company is firm in its stance that it doesn’t aim to “replace human beings with machines.” In fact, AutonomIQ is heeding the call of a talent shortage in the software testing industry. Shanmugam clarifies, “Today, there are hundreds of thousands of DevOps jobs that remain unfulfilled— owing to the demand for more cloud-based applications. We are not replacing humans with machines but merely improving operational efficiency, helping businesses to meet industry demands.”

Innovations aside, AutonomIQ takes pride in its work culture and believes that “a company’s culture supersedes its economic purpose.” Headquartered in San Jose, CA, AutonomIQ is extremely conscious and deliberate about how it determines its priorities and operation agenda. “We promote and coach behaviors such as continuous learning, paying close attention, the ability to understand another’s point-of-view, high energy, clarity of thought, and high tenacity,” says Shanmugam. AutonomIQ is a strong proponent of team-related exercises and encourages all its employees to challenge and debate decisions made by C-Suite. “We exhibit compassion and kindness to our colleagues. Being compassionate allows our team to be honest with each other, without fear of being blamed for failures,” adds Shanmugam.

On a closing note, AutonomIQ has ambitious plans of establishing itself as “the market leader in the software industry. The software and IT lifecycle management industry has been devoid of innovation for a long time. The giants such as HP and CA have either been divested their software lifecycle management assets or have been acquired for their balance sheets. Since there hasn’t been any innovation for a while, the AutonomIQ team strongly believes that they are on the right path to becoming the next disruptor in the industry. They want to take over the leadership spot from an application lifecycle management perspective. AutonomIQ, which coined the term “autonomous testing,” plans to eventually disrupt the entire software lifecycle. Watch this space!