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  1. #1
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    The need for a seperate test environment

    Hi all, long time lurker, first time poster here. I'm more after your experiences, rather than specific advice, but either are welcome.

    I've just joined a small media company, to implement structured testing. We currently use the following environments throughout the software development lifecycle:
    1. Dev checked out (developers local machine)
    2. Dev checked in (the main development environment)
    3. Staging
    4. Production

    Dev checked out and in share a database. Staging is used to check the release and client configurations.

    The past few months I've been observing how QA is undertaken, and I'm now taking steps to improve the whole process, and to formalise testing with the software development team.

    One of the "issues" that I have with the environmental set up is that Dev checked in is a hybrid of current and future work, therefore quality and confidence are reduced. I am proposing that we build a dedicated test environment, which only contains the current version of our web based software. I see a test environment as an area that is far safer than the sandbox that dev typically is, and it's an environment that QA can police and monitor. Costs will be minimum, as we have the licenses and hardware already.

    A shared database alarms me, as does the hybrid codebase. It has been suggested that the development team tighten up their use of CVS, but I don't believe that's a solution for a stable and confident testing environment. I have the support of the senior developers that I have discussed this with, and I'm gradually working my way up the company heirarchy, gathering support, so hopefully I'll be able to report postive news soon! I have to admit, there are one or two individuals who do not see the benefit of a controlled and isolated environment, away from the perils of developers who incorrectly check data in and out - I'm working on those!

    Previous companies I have worked at have all had distinct dev/test/staging/production environments, which I have found to be reliable in terms of testing confidence - do you run similar set ups, or have worked with similar, or do you test in a development environment and release into Production?

    thanks in advance, I'm looking forward to hearing about your environments.

    .:biscuits:.
    "Can't you just test it on the live server? It will save us a lot of time if you do."

  2. #2
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    Re: The need for a seperate test environment

    Except for the fact that you mentioned working for a media company, I'd swear we working at the same place [img]/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img]

    We too use CVS with three environments, dev, staging and production. The developers have their own servers that they do most of their work on before uploading to dev, but we still run into the problem of having code change underneath us while we are testing. The good news is that we recently got approval for our own test environment and are in the process of getting it set up. We will benefit by having our own stable environment and not have to worry about being in the middle of a test when a developer decides to deploy.
    Sandy Canetti


  3. #3
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    Re: The need for a seperate test environment

    Where I work for some of the products we have a separate QA environment, for others we have to test in development. The testing is a lot more thorough and accurate in the QA environment than it is in the development environment for exactly the reason you mention - development environment has "stuff" the developers are working on.

    We are moving toward having a separate environment and for the project I'm specifically responsible for we will have a separate environment, including all downstream integration points.

    Separate is better!

  4. #4
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    Re: The need for a seperate test environment

    Hi,

    I would like to share how we handle test environments.

    We have 13 separate test environments primaly for system testing (thank you lord for virtual server concept, no brands mentioned) and counting...

    Why so many?

    We develop a standard system which can be configured infinetly for each customer. In addition the test scenario cycles could span for months (system time) so sharing test environments between testers could be difficult.

    Is it expensive?

    Really not that much, except for initial costs for hardware and so on. Our App. server is Open Source and DB license does not increase when adding more databases to server.

    Is it hard to maintain?

    In order to automate batch jobs and so on some initial work is required of course but when framework is in place, you only have to deal with deviations which is available in real-time using a dashboard web page.

    How to get new AUT versions?

    Also done by automation where in a single web page, you choose which test environments to be upgraded or not.

    How is this possible?

    Each tester has pretty good knowledge about Databases and SQL which allows for freedom in the usage of one or more test environment for test execution in parallell. We aim to be independant from using other resources when handling the test environments.

    What about test data?

    We use different types of test data (small - or deindentified production sets) and use backup-restore a lot. I also developed some test tools which creates test data or gets random data based on test data requirements.

  5. #5
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    Re: The need for a seperate test environment

    First... separate test environment: This is a must for any sort of reliable testing. The test results are no more reliable than the stability of the test environment allows them to be... and, if the test environment is changing... then the results are not reliable.

    Second... was it a rhetorical question about why not test in production? If not, I suspect those who wonder that are closely related to those that think reliable testing can/does occur in an unstable/unsecured environment. As for the answer to this 2nd question... it's simple... no one I've met, thus far, at any rate, writes perfect code... hence the need to test it and find the errors. Do your questioners really want those errors to be aired to their public... in production, even before the problems have surfaced? I'd hope not. [img]/images/graemlins/wink.gif[/img]

  6. #6
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    Re: The need for a seperate test environment

    Rather than repeat, here is how I did it in one place.

    Sharing Environments
    - M

    Nothing learns better than experience.

    "So as I struggle with this issue I am confronted with the reality that noting is perfect."
    - Unknown

    Now wasting blog space at QAForums Blogs - The Lookout

  7. #7
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    Re: The need for a seperate test environment

    Why can't you move code into staging and test there before that environment is actually used to stage a production release?

  8. #8
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    Re: The need for a seperate test environment

    [ QUOTE ]

    Why can't you move code into staging and test there before that environment is actually used to stage a production release?

    [/ QUOTE ]

    Good thinking, but we use our staging environment to demo applications to clients, so that's not really possible - last thing I want is to be responsible for taking out the features being demonstrated!

    Thanks for everyone who has replied so far, it's interesting to see what sort of environment set up people are using or prefer
    "Can't you just test it on the live server? It will save us a lot of time if you do."

  9. #9
    Moderator Joe Strazzere's Avatar
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    Re: The need for a seperate test environment

    [ QUOTE ]
    Good thinking, but we use our staging environment to demo applications to clients, so that's not really possible - last thing I want is to be responsible for taking out the features being demonstrated!

    [/ QUOTE ]

    So then it's not really a staging environment. It's a demo environment.
    Joe Strazzere
    Visit my website: AllThingsQuality.com to learn more about quality, testing, and QA!

  10. #10
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    Re: The need for a seperate test environment

    You beat me to it, Joe.

    Bisquits - certainly sounds like you are one environment short.

 

 
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