Type-of-Test-Environments

Understanding the Types of Test Environments

JAN, 2022

by Justin Reynolds.

Updated by Jane Temov FEB 2023

Author Justin Reynolds

This post was written by Justin Reynolds. Justin is a freelance writer who enjoys telling stories about how technology, science, and creativity can help workers be more productive. In his spare time, he likes seeing or playing live music, hiking, and traveling.

 

As businesses continue to rely on software to carry out their operations, software testing has become increasingly important. One crucial aspect of testing is the test environment, which refers to the setup used for testing. 

 

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This article focuses on the various types of test environments used in software testing and highlights the unique characteristics and requirements of each type, including Development, Testing, Integration, Staging, Production, and Disaster Recovery environments. Understanding these environments is crucial for effective software testing and deployment.

What Is a Test Environment?

A test environment is a complete setup of applications, infrastructure, and data used to examine software for potential defects or errors in its functionality, performance, security, usability, or compatibility. This can be achieved through the use of dedicated servers on-premises or virtual machines in cloud computing, allowing for thorough testing to ensure the final product meets functional and non-functional requirements.

Software development involves the use of different types of test environments, each designed for specific purposes.

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Types of Test Environments

The following list describes the various types of test environments utilized in software development, presented in the order they are typically executed during the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC).

  1. Unit Testing Environment: This type of testing environment is used to test individual source code modules and ensure their accuracy and stability. It is typically used by software engineers to verify that their work is operational and performs as expected. The goal of unit testing is to detect and resolve defects as early as possible in the development process.
  2. System Integration Environment: A system integration testing environment brings together various software modules and tests them together as a group. The purpose of this environment is to verify that all components and microservices can communicate with each other and function as a single unit without errors. The goal is to identify and fix any issues with the integration of different components.
  3. Quality Assurance Environment: A quality assurance (QA) testing environment is used to ensure software meets end-user expectations. This type of environment verifies that the software meets all necessary specifications and requirements and performs at a satisfactory level for users. The goal is to identify and fix any defects or issues that could affect user satisfaction.
  4. Security Testing Environment: A security testing environment is used to assess whether software can withstand the barrage of cyber threats it may face. This type of testing involves examining the underlying code to ensure it is impervious to the latest threats. The goal is to identify and fix any vulnerabilities before they can be exploited by attackers.
  5. Performance Testing Environment: A performance testing environment is used to measure how well an application responds to various user interactions, such as page load time or reliability during a performance test. This type of environment is particularly important for e-commerce applications to ensure optimal end-user experiences and avoid abandoned transactions.
  6. Chaos Testing Environment: A chaos testing environment, also known as a stress testing environment, is used to measure an application’s overall resiliency by simulating various types of failures. This type of testing helps identify potential system weaknesses and the impact that specific failures would have on end-users. Chaos testing, a key foundation for SRE, is an essential method for ensuring system reliability and reducing downtime.
  7. Regression Testing Environment: A regression testing environment is used to ensure that any adjustments made to software positively impact its overall performance. This type of testing runs tests to verify that any bug fixes have not caused further issues or negatively impacted other parts of the software.
  8. Alpha Testing Environment: An alpha testing environment is used after integrating and performing tests for performance and quality assurance. This type of test involves performing end-to-end tests internally in a lab or stage environment to analyze performance under various fabricated conditions before releasing it externally for further feedback from users. The goal is to identify and fix any issues before the software is released for beta testing.
  9. Beta Testing Environment: A beta testing environment occurs after alpha tests have been completed. This type of test involves releasing software externally to select users for further feedback before its full release into production environments. The goal is to obtain real-world feedback and identify any issues before the software is released to the public.
  10. User Acceptance Environment: A user acceptance testing (UAT) environment occurs at the end of the testing process and involves checking to ensure the software meets the main business requirements before moving into production environments. This type of testing is often performed by end-users or stakeholders to verify that the software meets their needs and expectations. The goal is to ensure that the software is ready for release into production environments.

Why Companies Struggle to Manage Test Environments 

There are many reasons why companies struggle, or fail, to manage Test Environments effectively. Here are a few possible reasons:

  • Lack of clarity on ownership: In some cases, it is not clear who owns the Test Environment and who is responsible for maintaining it. This can lead to confusion and a lack of accountability, which can result in a poorly managed Test Environment.
  • Insufficient resources: A Test Environment requires a variety of resources, such as hardware, software, and personnel. If a company does not provide sufficient resources for these items, the Test Environment may be under-resourced, resulting in delays, bottlenecks, and quality issues.
  • Lack of automation: In many cases, companies rely on manual processes to set up and manage Test Environments. This can be time-consuming, error-prone, and difficult to scale. Automated IT Environment tools like the Enov8 Ansible Plugin can help to streamline and improve the management of Test Environments.
  • Inadequate testing processes: A Test Environment is only as good as the testing processes that are used in it. If a company does not have effective testing processes in place, the Test Environment may not be able to catch critical defects, resulting in product failures.
  • Poor communication: Effective communication is essential for managing Test Environments. If team members are not communicating effectively, issues may be overlooked or not addressed in a timely manner, leading to delays and quality issues.
  • Lack of Visibility: In some cases, team members may not have visibility into the RAG status of the Test Environment, making it difficult to know when resources are needed, or when issues arise.
  • Insufficient training: Team members who are responsible for managing Test Environments may not have the necessary skills or training to do so effectively. This can lead to mistakes, quality issues, and delays.
  • Insufficient Funding: Lack of funding is a common problem for many companies, especially when it comes to testing. Without adequate funding, the test environment may be neglected or under-resourced, leading to issues such as delays, missed defects, and ultimately, product failure. For example, the lack of funds to invest in hardware, software, and other resources needed to build and maintain the test environment can result in a suboptimal test environment, which may not be able to simulate the real production environment, leading to a failure to catch critical issues in the product. To address this issue, it is important to communicate the importance of investing in Test Environments to the relevant leadership group or Steering Committee.

Using Enov8 to Optimize Test Environments 

Properly testing software is crucial for delivering high-quality products, especially for large projects with multiple teams involved. However, managing testing environments can be a challenging task. Fortunately, Enov8’s Environment Manager provides a solution to simplify this process. This test environment management platform offers comprehensive governance and orchestration capabilities in a single location, ensuring efficient and dependable testing. By utilizing Enov8, teams can streamline their testing process and ultimately deliver products that meet customer expectations.

Conclusion

In conclusion, understanding the different types of test environments and their specific purposes is essential for successful software testing and deployment. From unit testing to user acceptance testing, each type of environment serves a critical role in ensuring the final product meets both functional and non-functional requirements. By leveraging test environment management platforms such as Enov8’s Environment Manager, teams can simplify the testing process and ensure reliable and efficient testing. Investing in the proper testing infrastructure is key to delivering top-notch software products that meet end-user expectations and contribute to overall business success.

Other Reading

Interested in reading more about Test Environment Management. Why not start here:

Enov8 Blog: Enterprise IT Environment : What it is and how to define yours?

Enov8 Blog: TEM Explained

Enov8 Blog: IT Environments : What they are and which do you need?

 

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