The Business Value Proposition of Test Data Management

by Steve Brooker, Business Manager, DevOps Solutions, iOCO

If applications make the 21st century world go around – and they most certainly do - then it is very easy to show the business value of putting optimal effort into generating test data and running tests that lead to even faster test processes.  The pressure for businesses to release software apps that are innovative , easy to use, turned out quickly while at the same time adhering to compliance regulations, is immense.  What no business wants is a bottleneck in the release process or worse, fast release but at the price of quality or legislative infringement.  Apps that fail with today’s tech savvy customers cause permanent damage to businesses – second chances do not exist in a world of consumer choice and demand for instant response.

So, let’s take a step back - what is test data management?

It can be defined as consisting of the creation of non-production data sets that fulfil the requirements of software quality-testing while maintaining privacy.

Why is it important?

Much as I dislike the term – this is a ‘no-brainer’.   The testing stage is where product defects are identified, reported, tracked, fixed, and retested until such time as the product reaches the required quality standards.

Test data management processes reduce products’ time-to-market. An effective test data management consists of automated testing that helps the process function quickly and efficiently.  It is a critical process in the testing lifecycle that helps businesses to ensure testing is up to date; test cycles are reduced; storage effort is decreased and improves release quality. It also helps to deliver compliance.

When to test?

Studies reveal that the cost of detecting and fixing defects in software increases exponentially with time in the software development workflow. Therefore, quality needs to be tested early and often.

What is the Micro Focus Data Privacy Manager Value Proposition?

Data privacy laws have changed the landscape of test data generation and management. Companies using production data with sensitive structured data in test/dev environments are not compliant with the GDPR , CCPA, KVKK, and other global data privacy regulations.  These laws aim to obligate companies to protect citizen data even when consumed internally. Some organisations sub-contract testing, quality assurance (QA), and training processes to third parties located in different countries, thus exposing citizen data to non-authorised users. Such practices are automatically non-compliant with current data privacy laws.

To enable data privacy, businesses need to ensure that every data element is identified, classified, and protected according to the population of users and policies. Considerations must be made for data across all environments. Whether a customer’s personal data is in a production database, an archive, or a test database, a data breach will still affect that person, and trigger non-compliance fines and penalties for the business. Additional critical data privacy management capabilities include being able to prove data is not reversible. It is essential to be capable of responding to privacy auditors’ requests to verify that test and analytics data values are truly anonymised and cannot be reverted to  the original values.

Micro Focus Data Privacy Manager automates data privacy and protection of sensitive, regulated production data for use in test development pipelines for functional app testing, training, QA, and related use cases.    It provides a comprehensive solution that addresses the privacy governance needs of enterprises with sensitive structured data. It provides a single solution for sensitive data discovery, extraction, and anonymisation, to deliver test data that closely matches production data and is compliant with data privacy regulations. As it offers a range of data protection techniques, Data Privacy Manager also enables customers to manage and protect sensitive structured data throughout its lifecycle, from discovery and classification to protection, through to disposition.

Data Privacy Manager  Discovers Private Data in Databases.

If you are to ensure data privacy you must first understand your data and map your sensitive data sources and flows.  Only then can you apply protection policies for testing, QA, and development. Data Privacy Manager finds sensitive structured data in active and inactive systems across the enterprise.

Data Privacy Manager Delivers:

  • Iterative development, agility, automated testing.
  • An unsiloed, on-demand, parallel approach to provisioning production data to test environments.
  • The ability to provide data combinations for every test - available as tests are ready to run.
  • Standardised and automated processes for the creation of compliant and secure data, performed as part of continuous integration (CI) and continuous deployment (CD) pipelines and standard test automation.

The end results include: predictable releases; fewer defects; greater ability to foresee application deployment times, plus behaviour, and ultimately a reduction in testing delays.

Data Privacy Manager at a Glance.

Data Privacy Manager takes the risk out of using production data in non-production test data environments through these vital functions:

  • Discovery of private data in databases.
  • Data privacy enablement, and protection in non-production environments.
  • Data is anonymised for secure use whether for analytics, test, or other use cases.
  • Real data sources are shielded with a protected Test Data Repository containing realistic “fake” data.
  • Really sensitive data is secure whilst format and referential integrity is maintained.

In 2021 Micro Focus continues to maintain a Leader position in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Application Security Testing.