Test data is a critical part of the software development lifecycle. Development and test teams need enough quality test data to build and test applications in a scenario that reflects the business reality the application will run in. Since it’s a foundational element, changing this variable does affect larger processes. Faster access to test data can directly speed up the time to release an application to the market. Higher quality and more realistic test data can reduce the number of defects your customers encounter in your production software.

For many enterprises striving to increase the pace of development and gain a competitive edge, their current test data management infrastructure is holding them back, incapable of solving three key challenges in dev/test:

  1. The speed and quality of test data provisioning to development and test teams
  2. Redundant and siloed infrastructure, leading to a growing cost of ownership
  3. The risk of exposing personal identifiable information (PII) and being vulnerable to cyber threats

A solution that takes a platform approach has the strongest chance of solving these challenges. Cohesity allows enterprises to repurpose backup data as test data to build higher-quality software, faster. Cohesity simplifies infrastructure for both backups and test data management—helping you release applications faster.

Cohesity addresses the misalignment between the cadence of IT and development, reduces the total cost of ownership, and reduces risk.

The Misalignment Between Development and IT

Traditional test data management infrastructure is misaligned with the practices of modern application development. Over the last several years, there has been an unambiguous trend from monophasic development and monolithic applications to more iterative development predicated on microservices. The adoption of DevOps methodology and agile development practices have evolved to support this trend. However, the underlying problem of data availability has largely remained unresolved. Many organizations struggle to provide high-quality test data in a punctual and secure fashion to their development teams.

The legacy approach—traditional test data management—delays the development and testing process, as provisioning relevant data to development teams can take up to multiple days, or even weeks. The origin of this misalignment makes sense. It’s a hard technical problem to be able to provision data to multiple teams, across multiple geographies, at an ever-growing pace. The legacy paradigm of provisioning data simply does not align with modern development needs.blog agile devtest diagram1

The Legacy Approach and Provisioning Times for Test Data Management

Cohesity speeds up data provisioning by giving teams faster—and self-service—access to zero-cost clones. Development and test teams can now access data instantly. No tickets, no requests, no wait times. As a result, parallelized development is possible, increasing the speed of development. In addition, the ability to refresh these clones on-demand or automatically means test data is always up to date.

The Public Cloud Dilemma

With dev/test, there’s a persistent question that often arises: What about the public cloud? Yes, the rise of the public cloud has accelerated the pace of innovation. Organizations can now take advantage of the elasticity and economics of the public cloud while reducing time to market for new applications. However, the public cloud is not a panacea. Public cloud environments don’t just carry over the operational inefficiencies from on-premise environments. It also introduces several new challenges.

For the prototypical enterprise, their organization’s data is never situated entirely on just one cloud. For the majority of organizations, their data footprint straddles multiple public clouds and on-prem environments. The result is a need for data mobility between these various environments. A lack of which can lead to inefficiencies. The advent of dev/test in the cloud adds additional roadblocks, including the misalignment of formats among on-premise and public cloud VMs. This schism leads to manageability strains, presents an impediment to application mobility, and often is accompanied by dramatic cost challenges—as more copies of data need to be created and stored in the public cloud.

Cohesity’s ability to span both on-prem and public cloud environments leads to a distinct advantage and solves misalignment challenges. Cohesity CloudSpin allows backed up VMs from on-prem environments to be spun up on public clouds.

Backup data can be instantly provisioned in a public cloud and subsequently, rapidly brought down, making cloud strategies for agility more effective. CloudSpin automatically converts on-prem VMs to appropriate cloud formats, allowing for application mobility.

Reducing the Cost of Ownership of Infrastructure

Cohesity allows enterprises to repurpose backup data as test data. This means you can back up one of your Microsoft SQL Server or Oracle databases, instantly make a clone of it without consuming extra storage, and use that clone to help develop your applications. With Cohesity, all of this can take place on a single platform. With one platform, you don’t need separate infrastructure for test data management—and the management overhead that comes with it. This immediate benefit is coupled with other advantages derived from a unique approach to a data management platform. One of the distinct advantages: zero-cost clones.

Zero-Cost Clones: Unlimited Test Data With No Strings Attached

Meeting the ever-increasing pace of innovation in modern companies is a tall order. As enterprises grow their business and teams, provisioning large amounts of test data is a concern. Data consumes resources, no matter where it resides. Modern platforms, however, have a solution for reducing the amount of storage consumed even if the amount of data provisioned increases. In looking to reduce TCO and increase their return on investments in infrastructure, IT teams should look for solutions that provide zero-cost clones, making it possible to provision large quantities of test data without consuming much storage.

blog agile devtest diagram2

Cohesity Allows Zero-Cost Clones from Database Backups

Cohesity is able to create clones without space consumption through the following process:

  1. Snapshot of a Microsoft SQL Server (or Oracle) database is taken and stored on Cohesity SpanFS.
  2. A clone is created from the snapshot instantaneously using SpanFS. Clones reference the snapshot, leveraging the modified B+ tree structure of SpanFS, enabling quick referencing without consuming extra storage. Every clone is fully hydrated.
  3. The clone will be mounted as a Cohesity volume on the dev/test server, presenting the database files in the clone to your dev/test server.

By instantly provisioning zero-cost clones, Cohesity yields savings in both time and cost.

Reducing Risk and Protecting Your Data

Provisioning data to numerous development and testing teams throughout your organization brings up the question of security and privacy. Security is a broad umbrella term. A modern data management platform like Cohesity addresses specific, nuanced challenges with regard to security and privacy, including personally identifiable information (PII) redaction, role-based access control (RBAC), and continuous vulnerability assessment.

Cohesity allows teams to desensitize test data and mask sensitive information, including PII, before sharing clones with development and test teams. And while you want to enable more teams, it’s critical to ensure test data is not indiscriminately distributed. RBAC controls give more data visibility to IT teams and prevent unauthorized access. Cohesity CyberScan goes a few steps further, assessing the risk posture of your data by scanning backup snapshots automatically to uncover security vulnerabilities before making that data available for development.

Accelerating Application Development Requires a Foundational ApproachConversational Test Data Management eBook

Accelerating application development requires a foundational approach. Agile and iterative software development dramatically increases the efficacy and pace of our teams. Getting infrastructure to work at the same speed is the next step. With Cohesity, you can make your backup data more productive, reduce your total cost of ownership, and get to market faster.

To learn more about elements of a modern test data management strategy, get a copy of the Conversational Test Data Management eBook.

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