Wednesday 8 June 2022

Avoid production data in test environments!

As ThoughtWorks have observed in 2021, using production test data in test environments has significant risks and drawbacks, for example:

  • test environments have lower security constraints than production environments, so they expose client data to threats
  • incorrect email test alerts sent to real users 
  • obfuscation often only addresses parts of the data sets
  • copying data can infringe on data protection laws
One way our customers avoid having to copy production data into the test environment is by using synthetic data created in virtual services, or API mocks in our commercial tool Traffic Parrot and a combination of open-source tools like Wiremock or Mountebank.

This often requires an upfront investment to define user personas that can be reused across test cases but removes the risks listed above. It also allows for increased test coverage and enables automated testing. 

As one of our customers put it:

"We have used Traffic Parrot to simulate third-party HTTP services and test our product in isolation. Traffic Parrot consultants have developed custom-made simulators for us. During the first testing cycle, it allowed us to find 28 issues with our product’s release candidate and fix them early in the software lifecycle. This means completing the testing schedule more than 2 months earlier than anticipated just for the first release alone.
We have also used Traffic Parrot to create third party system simulators that communicate over IBM MQ queues. The previous process took at least 30 minutes of manual effort per test case to verify when the interface was available—and sometimes up to 3 days when testing needed to be scheduled with external teams. Our Traffic Parrot simulators respond within milliseconds and are always up. They enabled our team to create automated tests that rely on those service responses and meet our department automated testing KPIs. This allowed us to reduce the regression testing cycle from 30 days to a week."
QA Director working for a software company responsible for government projects

If you would like to see what would be the Return On Investment (ROI) for your team for switching from using production data in test environments to service virtualization and API mocking, please reach out to us.

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