In today’s world, a lot of organizations face IT challenges that are more complex than ever before. Businesses need to be ahead of the competition and for that they need to quickly iterate and release their applications for their consumers. For businesses seeking optimum functionality and better time-to-market, test data management (TDM) is a crucial component of their organization’s IT strategy.
Imagine you were looking to buy a new car. One of the obvious first things that you would do is to take it out for a test-drive! During the test-drive, you would pay attention to how the steering feels in your hand, how the vehicle feels while it is turning, how the brakes respond, how comfortable are the seats, how easy it is to get in and out of the car and so on. The list goes on and on. If as a prospective car customer you put in so much effort to test, for someone who uses your organization’s application, you should expect to do the same due diligence so that your customers have a seamless app experience.
And this is exactly why having a sound test data management strategy is critically important. Without a proper test data strategy, businesses are more vulnerable to production environment application failures and the subsequent data breach fines which can run into several million dollars.
But test data management is no easy task. Enterprises are faced with these key challenges in testing their applications and software products.
Improper test data coverage
A lot of test data management solutions and tools that are available in the market today help you create a subset of your data or even create synthetic data for testing. So let’s say you have 100TB of a database, you will probably create a subset of 5TB for your test team. Or worse, you are going to create synthetic data of 5TB and give to your test team. Such less amount of coverage will in no way ensure that your entire application gets tested end-to-end. The fallout of such improper testing is that your application may fail in production environments, resulting in grief for your customers and ultimately business loss.
High storage cost
Another challenge to test data management is the high storage cost that come with replicating full production copies for testing. Imagine you have a 10TB database and you want to provision 3 copies of it, one for QA team, one for UAT team and one for security testing team. You would have to provision 30TB of storage for just testing! All this results in inefficiency as a lot of copies of data just lie without serving any purpose once their testing is done. This results in increased storage consumption and the total cost of ownership goes through the roof!
Poor test data quality & data integrity
Data ages. It becomes old and obsolete over time. And so if you are subsetting data for test data management, you should be aware of the fact that old data may lose context. And if you can’t validate the data and trace its integrity, it may be difficult to test and troubleshoot any issues that arise. With heterogeneous systems that have different file formats and multiple touch points, inappropriate processes such as data subsetting can lead to serious data quality and integrity issues.
Protection of sensitive data
Virtualization of data has definitely added a lot of business value, but at the same time, it can also result in exposure of sensitive data. Within test data, there could be sensitive user database information that the application requires. For a bank or a financial institution, this might be of utmost importance. If your test team gets hold of actual production data that reveals your customers’ credit card details or account details and this information gets hacked, that might be catastrophic for your business. Hence, it is very important to safeguard the test data and protect sensitive information.
Huge effort spent on test data management
A lot of significant effort & time is spent in taking a large volume of production data to various environments for different kinds of testing. There is no self-service in this process and testers need to log IT tickets, get the test environment setup, get the storage provisioned for the test data. All of these processes take a lot of time (sometimes days) and the time to market for apps gets delayed due to lack of self service. Some estimates put the effort consumed in test data identification, extraction and provisioning to be around 12-14% of the total testing cycle. Imagine how much effort could be saved if you could just eliminate the complex processes in TDM life cycle!
In a world where there’s an app for everything you need, it becomes really crucial that your software applications and products work well and stand out. One of the first steps to a successful performance of your products depends on your quality of your testing. With all the above test data management challenges, the right approach and right solution to testing will help you launch quality products and win your customers’ trust.
Learn more on how you can adopt a sound test data management strategy that helps you overcome the challenges listed above!