Pre-Production Environments: Start With Management
Start with management, then automate when you’re ready.
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With many technologies now available at your fingertips — or even on your smartwatch — it’s no surprise that using applications is now a necessity to get by. For applications to merely function, they must have the right test environment management in place. The IT teams developing these applications are flooded with codes that must be tested in resembling environments, which is why IT teams are usually faced with unfavorable outcomes if they fall short in handling this part of the application lifecycle. Nonetheless, IT teams are still confronted with issues in managing test environments despite them being involved in all the development cycles.
It may come as a shock that test environments across an organization cost an average of $682,000, according to findings from EMA’s Test Environment Management Survey. Considering that a significant amount of resources are being invested into this, it’s clear that these test environments must be managed effectively, with a proper procedure in place. It is hardly surprising to find out that lots of organizations however still rely on spreadsheets, internal tools, or CI/CD tools to handle this. More problems are caused when it’s just IT teams working from memory.
In the long haul, it won’t always be feasible to keep this up, especially as businesses grow and IT teams change or leave. Businesses need to ensure they future-proof their test environments for a smooth operation. Business leaders who are hesitant on the advantages of dedicated pre-production management tools should, therefore, take into account these five points on making these solutions work for their business.
You might also want to read: How to Save Money, Time, and More With Test Environment Management Tools
Scale Down Time Taken for Testing and Developing
When there is an issue and a bug is found during the standard development cycle, the bug is then referred on to a developer to fix. The bug may be a result of an incorrect deployment having taken place, or simply because it was not configured correctly. When this happens, it often leads to tasks being swapped, which inevitably delays the process even more. So, when the application arrives at the QA environments for testing, the auditors have already moved onto a different version. In order to iron out the bug, these auditors then need to review the previous code.
The report from EMA showed that organizations that deployed Test Environment Management (TEM) tools to deal with this type of situation salvaged a mean of 1.6 weeks of development and test time. By accelerating this cycle, organizations were able to save on average around $720,000 every year – simply by making the test environment management process more efficient.
Provision Test Environments Quickly
Accelerating the process of each release leads to faster provisioning of the test environments. Organizations that have implemented TEM tools are able to shorten the time required for the provisioning of test environments from an average of 3.3 days to just 1.8 days. As indicated by the results of the EMA survey, test environments are very costly to operate, hence by speeding up the process with the ability of provisioning test environments at a quicker rate, IT teams can test more applications in general.
Cut Down on the Number of Environments
For organizations that have the ability to provision their test environments at a quicker rate, they will also be able to optimize its usage. If the developers understand what to look for and what the environment needs to test against, then there’s no reason why these test environments can’t be reused time and time again for different code. By reusing these test environments, businesses will find they are able to minimize the number of test environments they manage, resulting in lower costs that arise with each environment used.
Decrease the Resourcing Needed
Organizations must realize the importance of managing the pre-production environment, as the majority tend to pay more attention to the post-production ones instead. What often happens when an appropriate management system isn’t in place for test environments, is that it leads to wasted admin time in verifying that others aren’t using the environment. Time is lost by getting all teams involved to use multiple spreadsheets and schedules, so any clashes can be sorted out through emails. However, when there’s a rise in the number of environments being tested, the difficulties also increase hand in hand.
Looking at the complete picture, it’s clear that using TEM tools significantly lowers the number of test environments needed, however combining it with a solution that manages the scheduling process takes it to the next level. This is because employees can stay on track with the test environments as well as save precious time that was previously lost coordinating via emails and spreadsheets.
The survey also uncovered that by using TEM tools, organizations were able to reduce the number of test environment managers required to do the work to between 1-5 people, averaging at 2.7. With many companies facing difficulties in resourcing for staff with the right knowledge, it is a huge advantage if fewer employees are required to manage test environments, so IT teams are able to use the staff for other tasks where their skill set is needed.
Enhanced Application Quality
Amalgamating the last four steps leads to the most important point: improving the application quality. Employees can save valuable time by using TEM tools. Instead of testing bad bugs, their time can be spent discovering the real bugs in the code and aiming to find a solution. Having less bugs causing issues in the new releases means that as a whole, the end result is a better-quality application for customers.
Over the past two years, it’s clear that businesses want to use TEM tools to support and enhance their existing resources. This can be seen from the results of the survey which showed that the top TEM priority for businesses between 2018-19 was to “better integrate TEM tools with CI/CD tools for better dev/test automation.”
As test environments are required for all the applications we use on a daily basis, they will only increase over time as technology continues to pick up the pace, hence for IT teams, TEM tools are necessary for them to efficiently and effectively carry out their tasks — no matter the industry they work in. As organizations plan their IT investments for the year, the points discussed above evidently highlight the cost savings gained by merely investing in TEM tools, so there’s no reason why this shouldn’t be at top of the list.
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