A test environment is a combination of hardware, software, data, and configurations, and it's very important they mimic the production environment in all aspects. It is hard to get correct test automation results if you have poor databases, hardware, and configurations in the test environment. If this is the case, it could lead to test automation failure.
This article explains various aspects that need to be considered while creating and maintaining test automation environments.
Why is test environment management important?
In the present ever-changing dynamic IT/Software field, requirements keep evolving as technology advances. There is an intricate trap between three dimensions: specific costs, quality, and time. In the majority of cases, the reason behind a poor quality product is test environment management isn’t allocated proper budget or the environment management process is not efficient.
Factors affecting test environments
Below are the various factors that need to be considered and given serious attention in order to achieve the best test results.
- Stability and reliability
The test automation environment must be as stable and reliable as a production environment. We need to ensure that hardware, networks, operating systems, databases are as similar as possible to production-grade. The application under test should also be stable and all test automation entry criteria should be met before starting test automation. An unstable test environment may lead to slowness in the application under test, thereby increasing the risk of test failure due to timeouts.
- Test data & daily baseline
Test data is a critical part of automation. It's crucial to ensure that the test data required for testing is available, that you create multiple sets of data, and that data cleanup is conducted once testing is done. One of the other ways to achieve testing with production-grade test data is to have regular data baseline from production. This will ensure that the data is accurate and enable you to simulate production-like scenarios. Please note that customer information should be masked during the baseline process.
- Deployment of builds
The deployment process must be a controlled process. It can be automated or manual, and DevOps should define the minimum number of deployment windows so that test execution is controlled (not scheduled).
- Access control
Test environment access must be restricted so only concerned persons have access to manipulate it. Unrestricted access may lead to accidental tampering of configurations and test data, or damage to a particular environment.
To help ensure you get the correct output from automated tests, the test environment must be available and configured as per the need of the application under test. This might mean the user has to create multiple test environments with multiple test configurations, hence it's important to control them cautiously. The incorrect test configurations may lead to a change in behavior of the application under test, which could lead to testing failure.
Test environment must be available at all times - just like in production - so that you can test 24/7, run tests nightly, and gauge various other parameters like performance and stability of the application.
- Dependency & integrations
Often projects are dependent upon external service applications and data, so it is important to ensure all external dependencies related to the project are sorted out before you start end-to-end automated testing. Unstable, incorrect, or missing integrations may lead to failures in test automation.
Test environment configuration and management are crucial for test automation success. An incorrect environment may lead to blaming among stakeholders, who ultimately lose confidence in test automation.
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