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Test Data Management in DevOps | The Advanced Guide

Navdeep Singh Gill | 02 January 2023

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Overview of Test Data Management

Automated testing is an integral part of modern software delivery practices. The ability to run comprehensive unit, integration, and system tests is critical to verify that your application or service works as expected and can be safely deployed in production. Giving the tests real data is essential to ensure that your tests validate real situations. Test data is essential because all test types need this data in your test suite, including manual and automated tests. Good test data allows you to validate popular or high-value user journeys, test edge cases, reproduce errors, and simulate failures.

It is challenging to use and manage test data effectively. Over-reliance on data defined outside the test scope can make your tests fragile and increase maintenance costs. Reliance on external data sources can cause delays and affect test performance. Copying production data is risky as it may contain sensitive information. Organizations can manage their test data carefully and strategically to meet these challenges.

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Current Stage of Test data management

In today's digital age, every organization is bringing high-quality applications to market at a competitive pace. Although companies have adopted Agile and DevOps methods to pursue this goal, many have over-invested in test data, which has become an obstacle in the innovation race.

The (Test Data Management)TDM market has shifted to a new set of strategies driven by an increased focus on application availability, faster market time, and lower costs. TDM is proliferating alongside other IT initiatives like DevOps and the cloud.

As the number of application projects grows, many large IT organizations realize the opportunity to achieve economies of scale by consolidating Test data management functions into a single team or department, allowing them to take advantage of Use innovative tools to generate test data and operate more efficiently than single, decentralized, and unstructured TDM pools.

How to implement Test Data Management?

Analysis by DevOps Research and Evaluation shows that successful teams approach it with the fundamentals.

Appropriate test data is available to run a fully automated test suite. Test data for automated test suites can be collected on request. Test data does not limit or restrict the groups of automated tests that can be run.

To improve it, try to meet each of these conditions in all your development teams. These methods can also positively contribute to test automation and continuous integration capabilities.

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How to measure Test Data Management?

Test data is available to run a fully automated test suite. Organizations can measure this by tracking the time developers, and testers spend managing and manipulating data in test suites. They can also capture this through sensory measurements to ask teams if they have enough data for their work or if they feel it is a limitation for them.

Test data for automated test suites can be collected on request. They can measure this by the percentage of critical datasets available, how often these are accessed, and how often they are refreshed.

Test data does not limit or restrict the groups of automated tests that can be run. They can measure this by the number of automated tests that can be run without needing to obtain additional test data. They can also capture this with perception metrics to ask teams if they feel the test data limits their automated testing activities.

Strategies to improve Test Data Management

Test data automation is a comprehensive technology set that delivers complete data and compliance to parallel teams and infrastructure. This DevOps Ready Kit includes:​

  • Data records and masks
  • Analyze coverage
  • Compare data, and generate data
  • Check data duplication
  • Allocate test data
  • A complete subset of data
  • Data virtualization

These technologies combine to create complete, compliant, and available data in parallel. However, Test Data Automation goes a step further by making these technologies reusable as required by manual and automated data requesters. In other words, test data automation helps align test data delivery with the speed, automation, and flexibility of CI/CD and DevOps processes. This ability to automate and react to changing needs automatically responds to a wide range of data requests made by teams and executives in tandem.

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What are its common challenges?

  • Provisioning a test environment is a slow, manual, and demanding process- Most IT organizations rely on a request processing model in which developers and testers see their requests line up behind others. Since creating a copy of test data takes a lot of time and effort, providing updated data to the test environment can take days or weeks.
  • Development teams need more high-precision data-Development teams often need access to test data suitable for their purposes.
  • Data mask adds friction to the release cycle - For many applications, such as those that process credit card numbers, patient records, or other sensitive information, data masking is essential to ensure regulatory compliance and protect against fraud data breaches.
  • Storage costs continue to rise-  IT organizations create multiple redundant copies of test data, resulting in inefficient memory usage. To meet concurrent demand within storage capacity limits, operations teams must coordinate the availability of test data across multiple pools, applications, and releases.

What are its best practices?

  • Data Delivery: Reduce test data delivery time to developers or testers.
  • Data Quality: Meets high-fidelity test data requirements.
  • Data security: Minimize security risks without compromising speed.
  • Infrastructure costs: Reduce the cost of storing and storing test data. The following sections highlight the main criteria for evaluating the TDM method.

What are the major benefits of Test Data Management?

  • Quality improvement: The test data quality affects the product's overall quality. To produce a high-quality product, you need to use high-quality test data.
  • Avoid security issues: If the data is not secure, there is a risk of a data breach, which can be costly to the organization.
  • Reduce data-related errors: Due to the accuracy of test data, data-related errors or false positives are significantly reduced, thus increasing the efficiency of the testing process.
  • Drive agility: It is essential for delivering IT projects because it reduces test data generation time and helps reduce delivery latency and overall test execution time. This improves development and testing by allowing for faster feedback on code changes.
  • Cost reduction: Test data management enables early detection of bugs in the software development process, resulting in less expensive fixes. Additionally, not having to struggle to find relevant data allows development teams to focus on creativity and drive the organization forward.
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Conclusion

Managing test data can improve compliance, optimize storage spending, and improve the end-user experience. A robust test data management strategy enables organizations to efficiently meet the test data needs of their DevOps automation cycle by supporting data profiling and analysis, governance, provision, creation, and management environments and privacy.