The Test Environment Pizza
JULY, 2017
by Niall Crawford (Enov8 Director/CTO)

I had an “interesting” chat with a potential client this week. The conversation started normally with myself and my colleague going through the benefits of our Test Environment & Release Management solution, and then continuing to a “show and tell”. However, I could tell the client was somewhat distracted and had something “greater” on their mind.

So, I probed slightly & the vision became apparent:

“We want our Projects to Self-Service the Test Environments”

“OK”, I said, “can you provide me an example of which Environment?”

“Yes … A Test Environment for Payments”?

“OK”, I said, “a bit like ordering a Pepperoni Pizza online?”

“Yes, that’s right” said the client enthusiastically.

“OK! Stop the bus”, I said, “Three simple questions” “Question ONE, do you know what your Payments Environment & Systems looks like?” Answer: “Not really, we have some Spreadsheets & Wiki documents but they might be out of date”. “Question TWO, are your current Infra, Data & Applications operations documented?” Answer: “It depends on the team, I believe some do and some probably don’t”. “Question THREE, can you currently create this platform from an Automate Script?” Answer: “I think the Infrastructure guys have some Recipes & Scripts for MS SQL”. Note: The latter answer amused me as there were about 150+ components, including Mainframe. I find it somewhat crazy today, that IT Management and supposed “Subject Matter Experts” are suggesting this kind of nonsense and suggesting it seriously. I mean, sure if your environment and systems are simple enough you could offer complete automation and self-service. But they probably aren’t! Instead they probably consist of a complex web of components, relationships, processes and architectures that are poorly understood and out of date. If an organization wants to establish Self Service Test Environment Management, then I’d offer this: “Understand your ingredients & learn how to cook first”. It might sound a bit boring. But it is 101 Environments Management. You can never expect to automate or self-service that which you don’t understand.

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