Easy test data provisioning

Software (Quality) Engineers are in need of up-to-date test data or certain specific test cases to test their newly developed software products. This data is often difficult to find in large production environments and for the provisioning of this data they depend on a Database Administrator (DBA) to refresh a database or to extract certain test cases. The hunt for this test data often goes hand in hand with long waiting times, since it is not the primary task of the DBA. In this article we discuss how this test data provisioning process can be simplified.

Test data provisioning

Let’s start by answering the question “What is test data provisioning?” Based on our experience, we have formulated the following answer:

“Test data provisioning is the process of making test data accessible and available to users in an orderly, secure – and preferably automated – way.”

A lot is being said and written about how to create proper test data sets, but the deliverability is often underexposed. Many organizations face challenges in the area of test data provisioning. Most teams don’t have the ability to self-refresh their (test) data sets. They have to request a database refresh at the DBA, which often takes a lot of time and causes the necessary frustrations.

Test data provisioning is an important part of Test Data Management. In our view, Test Data Management consist of various parts / steps (whose order may vary):

 

Easy test data

Software delivery has to be done faster and more efficient. Waiting for the DBA to deliver a database refresh is precious time lost since it can take up to several days to weeks or even months for a database to get refreshed. Waiting for a test data refresh also causes annoyed Software (Quality) Engineers. Everyone’s waiting for the test results but the team doesn’t have the proper data to execute these tests and the pressure continues to increase. A search is then made for quick (but not necessarily qualitative) solutions such as manually generating test data or test cases themselves. Just to be able to test the software and give the business some (whether or not reliable) results about the delivered software product.

Test data availability

For software development teams to be able to self-refresh and have test data easily available ensures that they can do their job properly. One of the biggest bottlenecks here is the fact that DBA’s aren’t that eager to hand over database control to Software (Quality) Engineers, afraid they will break something or worse, destroy it. But since it’s not the main task of a DBA, he or she doesn’t want to spend too much time on database refreshes, resulting in long waiting times for software development teams.

 

Pros of easy test data availability:

  • Manually generating test data is past tense
  • Don’t waste any more time on searching test data
  • Save on waiting time and storage costs

Test data portal

In summary, we find that both software development teams and DBAs would benefit from easy test data provisioning. But how do we get this done? Simple: with the help of a test data portal. A platform which can be used and accessed by both DBAs and Software (Quality) Engineers. Both are able to login to this portal and via the platform they are able to self-refresh their own test data sets. Extremely easy at the click of a button. The only waiting time is the actual (technical) data processing time. DBAs are not constantly disturbed and Software (Quality) Engineers don’t have to wait. They can control the processes themselves.

DATPROF-platform

On-demand test data provisioning tool

At the backend of this test data platform, DATPROF Runtime, certain projects (also called templates) are installed. These projects can be for example data masking (DATPROF Privacy) or data subsetting (DATPROF Subset) templates. In most cases the templates are developed by a Software Quality team member with decent database knowledge, working closely together with the DBA. After the installation (mostly done by the DBA) the projects can be used by the selected teams.

The DBA can grant access and monitor the processes that are being executed. In addition, they are released from these non-primary tasks they’ve been given every once in a while. So it is a win-win situation. Depending on your Test Data Architecture teams are able to access and refresh their own database (subset) at the click of a button and the DBA is sure that databases won’t get corrupted.

datprof runtime full
subset-teams-architecture

Automated test data provisioning

To make test data delivery even more interesting, this entire self-refresh process can be automated, too. With the help of an API the test data platform can be integrated with nearly every orchestration tool or other tools you might use for software testing. Our test data platform DATPROF Runtime is used by customers to refresh databases several times a week or even multiple times a day – instead of manually generating test data because of the pressure placed on the test team. With the help of such a test data portal you’re able to easily obtain proper, production-like test data. This way test data is as an accelerator instead of a bottleneck in your entire CI/CD pipeline.

DATPROF TDM Suite

Data Masking

Mask your privacy sensitive data and use it for development and testing.

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Data Subsetting

Extract small reusable subsets from large complex databases and speed up your testing.

Data Provisioning

Monitor, automate and execute your test data from one central test data portal.

Data Discovery

Get new insights in data quality and find out where privacy sensitive information is stored.

Data Masking

DATPROF Privacy

Data Automation

DATPROF Runtime

Data Discovery

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