How to Save Money, Time, and More With Test Environment Management Tools
As companies grow and expand with more evironments than ever, take a look at what is needed to create more stable environments.
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Companies today are becoming more and more application-driven, which in turn is making every company today a software company – whether they know it yet or not. With this, companies are having to issue more application releases than ever before, and their software delivery cycles are increasingly complex. Therefore, in order to cope with the number of applications they are supporting, large enterprises now need hundreds and sometimes thousands of test environments. But as the number of environments continues to rise, successfully managing them all is becoming more and more challenging by the day.
A recent survey conducted by Enterprise Management Associates (EMA), titled the EMA 2018 Test Environment Management Survey, found that only 4% of large enterprises have fully integrated test environment management (TEM) processes in the DNA of their application development, despite the overarching benefits that TEM tools can bring to businesses across a range of industries. Given the speed and efficiency improvements that TEM tools provide, the question should be asked, why aren’t more businesses integrating them effectively or even at all?
What Is a TEM Tool, and What Does It Aim to Do?
Of the teams surveyed, EMA’s research found that while some are working with over 600 environments, 21% of respondents were unsure as to how many environments they have. From a management standpoint, now knowing how many environments your company has is arguably worse than having too many to manage.
A TEM tool — a single resource to plan, schedule, and maintain test environments — is designed specifically with these challenges in mind. It makes the entire testing process smoother, enabling businesses to provision test environments faster and improve the quality of the applications being developed. TEM tools remove many of the processes that otherwise have to be done manually, such as lengthy scheduling and monitoring processes. This management also assists companies in reusing and recycling test environments more efficiently, reducing the need for excess environments to be created.
The EMA survey also revealed that organizations are finding themselves with more test environments than they have had before, due to the rapid pace and amount of developing, modernizing, and updating applications; however, the use of TEM tools is behind the ball, with 23% of respondents admitting that they don’t use any commercial tools at all. This means that nearly a quarter of those surveyed are managing complex testing schedules without any operational oversight. While this may be sufficient when coordinating a small number of test environments, this will likely become too challenging as these increase over time.
Eighteen percent (18%) of respondents ranked adopting TEM-specific tools to manage TEM processes as the number one objective, showing that there is still a need for basic adoption by almost a fifth of those surveyed. However, the feedback on other objectives suggests that even those with TEM tools in place are not fully confident in using them. Those that have implemented tools showed a lack of maturity of experience with them, as the top three objectives overall were: developing a more automated and scalable approach to test environment management; integrating TEM processes with other tools for Dev/test/deploy; and implementing a way to more effectively manage TEM activities. These are all possible with commercial TEM tools but are not being realized by most organizations based on the responses.
What IT decision-makers need to realize is that by implementing a TEM tool, they can greatly improve overall visibility, while management difficulty and inefficiency can all be remedied. However, up until now there has been a focus on automating the development cycle without necessarily considering how to best identify where the waste is and where the defects originate, and therefore, TEM has been low on the priority list. The use of testing environments is only going to keep increasing – that is for certain – so businesses need to make sure that they are putting in place the optimum solutions now to help them cope with the challenges this will bring in the future.
Immediate ROI on TEM: Fast, Simple, Effective
The benefits of using TEM tools can greatly reduce the challenges that organizations are currently facing, and fulfill the objectives that development teams are looking to gain. For those already using a TEM tool, the survey found that faster provisioning was the most common benefit (89%), which in turn led to a corresponding reduction in the number of test environments that were needed, and an improvement in the quality of applications being developed.
There are also financial benefits for businesses as well. Regardless of the stage of maturity of the TEM tool in use, they begin paying for themselves straightaway. For the average enterprise in the survey, with around 76 production releases per year, the predicted TEM cost savings are about $1.4 million, primarily across the following TEM categories:
- Enabling faster provisioning of test environments
- Reducing the number of test environments needed
- Reducing development and test time for each release
- Reducing Test Environment Management costs
- Improving application quality
No matter the volume of overall production releases, the payback on TEM investment will occur almost immediately, and if these savings are viewed as cost avoidance, ROI will be realized within a couple of months. Though the exact numbers in savings and ROI will vary from business to business, it is clear that by implementing these tools, businesses will start to see the positive financial effects almost instantly, alongside the improvements they make to the testing process itself.
With the number of test environments increasing — as well as customers’ expectations — businesses need to invest in the best management tools to make release deliveries faster and of higher quality. The EMA survey found that the respondents’ top DevOps priority for 2019 is faster software delivery, and while TEM tools will not drive this exclusively on their own, they can certainly make a world of difference to not just this but testing as a whole.
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