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Automated Test Environment for DevOps with Environment as-a-Service

DevOps leaders are expected to emphasize pushing value to production as quickly as possible. “Value to production” implicitly requires high quality (low quality is of little value to anyone), which means DevOps teams need to focus on being able to specify, build, test, and deploy software effectively and quickly.

Automat-IT EaaS – Environment as-a-Service is a readily available solution that helps DevOps teams create automated environments for the most common tasks, thus helping to keep organizational standards in check and eliminate wasting valuable resources.

The key challenges of test environments management

A testing environment is a setup of software and hardware in which the testing team tests a new software build. A test environment consists of pre-production or staging environments and is generally a downgraded version of a production environment to help uncover pre-production defects.

There are a few basic types of testing:

  1. Unit testing: coded verifications that validate one specific behavior in a small section of the system.

  2. Integration / Service testing: validate behaviors between components.

  3. Functional tests: validate a slice of system functionality.

  4. Effective test coverage: ensures there’s little or no duplication of test coverage.

  5. End-to-End testing: to ensure that information passed between components within the system in the correct manner, and that the integrity of the information is maintained through the process.

  6. Performance testing: simulates a working environment with users to test load on the system.

Building and maintaining a test environment is considered extremely important to the development process. Often, dedicated test environments are maintained at various stages like developer test, dedicated test, integration test, and pre-production or business readiness test - requiring resources to operate and maintain them. Automat-IT offers a self-service based solution that eliminates unnecessary costs and waste of resources at this stage.

In rapidly changing business, an IT organization has to align the IT strategy to business strategy and bring agility into the IT delivery. It is increasingly difficult to manage complex IT infrastructure dependencies, and manual intervention becomes unavoidable.

Time and again, organizations consider management of non-production environments a secondary priority. This leads to unorganized and ad-hoc management of test environments and increased operational and maintenance costs for organizations.

In addition, identifying and addressing environment-related defects becomes a major concern for QA teams.

Effective and efficient management of test environments with structured automation can deliver significant benefits along with substantial cost savings to the organization.

Test environment automation approach for DevOps

Typically, release management is a complex and time-consuming process. Even if applications are provisioned using templates, the infrastructure provisioning is often done manually. In a complex DevOps continuous integration environment requiring reduced cycle time for delivering and testing enterprise applications in DevOps methodology, the manual provisioning of environments is not sustainable. Adopting best practices and leveraging automation can drastically improve the cycle time and reduce the time to release without impacting compliance and standards.

An automation framework for environment management in DevOps lifecycle includes building and deploying automation for Continuous Development, Continuous Integration, Continuous Testing, and Continuous Delivery. An automation framework caters to automation in the following areas:

  • Environment request process

  • Environment planning, design, and build provisioning

  • Data masking, desensitization, and governance for environment request execution

  • Infrastructure baseline and smoke testing.

Environment support activities (e.g., configuration maintenance and code migrations) can also be automated.

A focused approach towards environment automation can reduce the dependencies involved in manual infrastructure provisioning. Test environment automation approach should support the following activities:

  • Environment provisioning, configuration, testing, deployment, and operational management

  • Test data management and related compliance requirements

  • Proactive monitoring of environment and self-healing for repeat incidents

  • Configuration management with auto-discovery for environment asset management and licensing

  • Patching and upgrading of infrastructure components compliant with enterprise policies

The approach to test environment automation varies across organizations. Common elements of this approach include a combination of pre-configured tools and scripts supporting the entire environment management lifecycle. Once the initial standardization is done, all the inputs, outputs, check points, and failure points in the tasks identified are captured. All the captured items are marked as candidates for local or centralized automation.

  • Localized automation involves automation limited to specific components such as database refresh, operating system patch updates, and others.

  • Centralized automation includes the orchestration and integration of various systems in the environment such as test environment provision requests received through a tool that needs to be executed by using a deployment tool and following standard operating procedures.

A robust automation script or workflow would lead to the reusability of the scripts that could be used in the future to speed up the provisioning process.

Benefits of test environment automation

The benefits of test environment automation cover:

  • 30-40% reduction in time to market thanks to an improved provisioning cycle time

  • Up to 50% reduction in manual health check efforts

  • 20-30% enhanced environment efficiency through 30% reduction in IT service request fulfillment

  • 30-40% reduced cost of operations

Additional qualitative benefits of environment management automation include:

  • Elimination of errors due to manual interventions and delays due to dependencies

  • Zero tolerance with respect to continuous availability of the environment

  • Consistent and accurate environments through automated configuration updates

  • Optimum utilization of infrastructure assets through better license management

  • Availability of the environment as a service model

AUTOMAT-IT EaaS – Environment as-a-Service

Automat-IT is launching its new EaaS - Environment as-a-Service product to allow you Dev, QA, Test, Stage and Prod quickly, reliably and at a fraction of the cost. We provide an environment that amplifies your organization's creativity and eliminates IT complexity.

Automat-IT EaaS was created leveraging years of experience in the most complex IT organizations, managing DevOps for the most advanced software companies, and working with developers, system engineers, architects and executives to bring a holistic, self-service, automated, quick and reliable environment that works for every stakeholder, on time and on the required budget.

Software deployed to order

DEV: For one developer workstation or teams of thousands around the world, Automat-IT EaaS environments are launched in minutes, helping to break silos and is always there, ready to launch your next big thing.

QA: Large QA teams or a one person QA Swiss Army knife, on-site or off-shore, Automat IT EaaS allows a seamless and rapid cloud QA environment for each and every stage of your solution’s process.

TEST: Automat-IT Environment as a Service highly automated and parallelized test environment provide a foundation to rapid software development and to achieve your goals on time and on budget.

STAGING: Staging a single machine or an exact duplicate of production Automat-IT EaaS enables you to simulate the real thing without any compromise. Test all installation/configuration/migration scripts and procedures as well as performance and load.

PROD: Pushing to PROD may result in immediate and unseen problems, resulting in immediate user impact. EaaS allows you to carefully monitor each and every step, and in some cases having phased rollout or only requiring flipping a switch, allowing rapid rollback. On geographically distributed machines, in the cloud or cloud of clouds, Automat-IT is the fast and reliable environment for your project. Restart, hot swapping, canary or simultaneously Automat-IT EaaS is there to launch next big idea.

DTAP: Disaster Recovery, to provide an immediate fallback in case of problems with production. Automat IT EaaS is here to cover your server programs, remote data center; for apps / clients, user or local environments.

EXP: Sandbox or experimental, test and play with Automat IT EaaS, play as if you are in the most complex playground all by yourself with no interference.

In conclusion, test environment automation allows organizations to streamline repetitive tasks and activities and reduce overall operation efforts. It follows local and centralized automation approaches to gain more benefits in reducing release time.

As a result, it helps organizations to free up resources and then deploy those resources on other critical activities that aren’t developing automation assets.

Automat-IT EaaS helps reduce complexities and enables organizations to launch test environments in 15 minutes or less, ensuring efficiencies and high standards of testing for a quick and reliable delivery.

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