Test Environments: Why You Need One and How to Set It Up
by Keshav Malik
With the rise of agile development methodologies, the need to quickly test new features is more critical than ever. This is especially true for websites and applications that rely on real-time data and interaction.
The only way to ensure that new functionalities work as expected is to test them in a controlled environment. A testing environment is like a lab for testing the effects of different elements on the end-user.
This post looks at different aspects of test environments. Firstly, we’ll look at what a test environment is and its use. Second, we’ll explain why you need to have a testing environment. Lastly, we’ll see why Enov8 is undoubtedly a perfect choice for test environment management.
What Is a Test Environment?
Software testing needs a secure and isolated environment to run tests without influencing users’ actions. We call this environment a test or testing environment.
Essentially, you create a copy of the live system so that tests run as if they were being run in the live environment. However, because it’s a copy, you don’t put user data at risk. Thus, it’s an essential part of any software development strategy.
Most companies set up separate environments for unit testing, system integration testing, and security testing. A test environment can contain an exact copy of the live environment and a copy of a specific software release.
Reading Guide: Understanding the Types of Test Environments
What Are Characteristics of a Good Test Environment?
A good test environment has the following characteristics.
- It’s a copy of the live environment. This means it includes the same code, data, configuration, operating system, and functionality.
- It functions as a sandbox. This means changes made in the test environment cannot affect the live environment.
- It’s easy to set up.
But why are test environments so important? Let’s dig in.
Why Are Test Environments Important?
Test environments are an integral part of the development process. Even though we use testing environments to execute and verify tests, there’s much more to know.
Testing ensures that we can test applications per the requirements and we develop all our software according to specification. For every application, we can divide the testing process into two parts: automated testing and manual testing. We run automated testing to test the application without any human intervention. In contrast, for manual testing, a human tester tests the application step by step.
A testing environment allows you to test your new software releases to make sure they run smoothly before you roll them out. A virtual testing environment, in particular, protects you against any possible crashes. This lets you get on with your day-to-day tasks worry-free. It also means you can easily modify or change a testing environment without affecting the live site.
Is The Test Environment the Same As The Staging Environment?
Are you still wondering about the difference between staging and testing environments? We can help you out.
In a typical test environment, the data is not real and security checks are not in place. We use a test environment to debug features. On the other hand, a staging environment, which is one part of the testing environment, is a copy of the production environment used internally to demonstrate or test an application as a whole. The staging environment uses real data identical to the production environment, but it’s not available to the outside world.
If staging and testing environments are different, do you need both? Let’s take a look at the vital environments every organization must have.
What IT Environments Do You Need?
In the same way as you should have different tools for different jobs, you should have different environments for different purposes. For example, you need to have different environments on your network to support different levels of security, availability, and testing procedures. Most commonly, companies have three following IT environments.
- Operational environment: You keep your data and software here. The operational environment is a safe place to store your data and do your development. You can upgrade your application and implement changes in this environment.
- Testing environment: The testing environment is for testing new features and applications, but you don’t store real data here. For example, you can test what happens if you disable a particular module of your application. The only part of the testing environment that uses real data is the staging environment. We highly recommend that you always use a staging environment, but it’s not required.
- Production environment: This is a live environment where you have your data and software, and where your employees work. In other words, you conduct all of your business processes here, but you don’t want to make any changes in this environment. You must test all changes in the testing environment.
What Are the 4 Key Elements For Creating a Test Environment?
Creating a good test environment is essential to get quick information about the functionality of a website or application. To create a good test environment, you need to consider the following.
- Test environment design: Design a test environment by selecting a representative sample of the entire application or the entire application.
- Test environment security: The test environment must remain secure from the application under test and from the other applications.
- Test environment automation: Ensure that you can use the environment to automate the testing process.
- Test environment management: Make sure that you can use the environment long term for continual testing.
Common Challenges in Test Environment Management
These days, testing environment management is a complicated and expensive process. If you want to get the most out of your testing, you must ensure that your testing environment is appropriately equipped and managed. However, that’s not always easy. Many businesses run into three common challenges that impact their testing environment.
1. Resource Management
One of the critical challenges for test environment management is the difficulty of managing the resources. Often a testing environment contains physical and virtual resources, and you need to manage both.
The resources include the servers, storage, and network infrastructure. The team has to ensure that the environment is built and maintained appropriately. In addition, they must ensure that it can carry the resources forward into releases and testing.
2. Managing Changes
Another challenge is managing changes in the codebase. For example, as time goes on, you’ll add new resources or new versions of existing ones to the environment. When you make these changes, the team must have a way to track them and document them.
3. Timely Feedback & Poor Communication
Communication is the key to success, or so the saying goes. Lack of communication or collaboration between product or QA managers and testers can lead to miss critical areas of the application or overlook key business risks.
As testing progresses, testers may not have the opportunity to provide feedback to the project team. This can result in testers not being recognized for their work.
Summing it up…
In conclusion, choosing a test environment management solution can be challenging. Most IT organizations don’t get it right the first time. Above all, when it comes to selecting a testing environment management solution, you need to find a tool that supports your business needs and makes it easier for your team to work more efficiently. Enov8 is designed to help you save time and money. You can create a virtual environment in minutes, configure it in hours, and manage it in days. Focus on your business and leave the rest to us.
To see how Enov8 can revolutionize how you manage your test environments, download our free three month trial, “Kick Start Edition,” and take the platform for a test drive today.
This post was written by Keshav Malik. Keshav is a full-time developer who loves to build and break stuff. He is constantly on the lookout for new and interesting technologies and enjoys working with a diverse set of technologies in his spare time. He loves music and plays badminton whenever the opportunity presents itself.
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