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Test Environment: A Beginner’s Guide

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As we know for the development of a software application/product the development team follows a set of steps that are performed in different phases of the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC).  In SDLC Software testing is one of the important phases as it ensures the quality of the product. So, for that different types of software testing are performed to check different parameters or test cases. During the testing phase depending upon the type of testing different members are involved like the developer, the tester, and sometimes the customer/client also. But the basic thing to perform testing is a test environment. Because it provides a perfect setup for testing teams as a testing environment is equipped with various testing-related tools and other elements that support test execution with hardware, software, and network configured. The article focuses on discussing the test environment in detail.

What is a Test Environment?

The test environment is the hardware and software set up for the testing teams to run test cases. This test environment setup varies from product to product and its configuration completely depends on the application under test requirement. The easiest way to organize a test environment is through automation.

  • The test environment is used by the testing teams to test the software, identify the bugs, and find a possible fix for the bugs.
  • A test environment is used to check the quality of the software and the impact of the application before release.
  • It enables the tester to check the different parts of the application using different configurations and data setups.

Test Bed is very similar to Test Environment with a small difference. The test bed is also a type of test environment that consists of test data to verify the functionalities of the software applications.

The staging environment is a copy of the production environment for software testing. This is used before the actual deployment of the software so that final tests can be executed.    

Importance of Test Environment

Knowing about the quality and functionality of applications under process in a test environment is very important. Because it provides a dedicated environment for us to isolate the code and examine the application so that other actions have no impact on the output of the tests that are running on the server. In addition to this, a test environment can mimic the work of a production environment. Below are some of the benefits of using the test environment:

  • Identify bugs: The test environment facilitates the tester to identify the bugs in the application and find a solution to fix those bugs.
  • Provide a standardized environment: The test environment provides a standardized environment that helps to validate the application behavior and the application can be tested securely by the tester.
  • Helps to launch the secure application: Properly configured test environments help to search for vulnerabilities and launch a secure and tested application.
  • Helps provide precise feedback: The test environments help to provide precise feedback about the features and functionality of the application. 

Types of Test Environment

Below are the different types of test environments:

  1. Integration Test Environment: In this environment, software modules are integrated, and integrated behavior is verified. In this environment, one, two, or many modules can be integrated, and functional testing can be used to verify the behavior and correctness of the application. It should imitate the production environment closely. 
  2. Performance Test Environment: The performance environment tells how well a system will perform based on goals like throughput, stability, response time, etc. The setup here is quite complex as it requires very selective choice and infrastructure configuration. Performance testing needs to be run in different environments with distinct configurations by varying the size of RAM, the volume of data, etc. Performance testing is time-consuming and expensive.
  3. Security Test Environment: While using a security test environment, the testing team tries to ensure that the software is free of security flaws in confidentiality, integrity, and authenticity. Setting up a secure testing environment requires ensuring that the system is not left unattended, there is an isolated test environment, not touching the production data. 
  4. Chaos Test Environment: Here the main aim is to find a specific area that can cause the application to fail before the application can lead to negative user feedback. After identifying the area, the tester tries to fix it.

Key Areas to Set up Test Environment

A stable test environment allows the tester to conduct tests efficiently and results in consistent performance from the application under test. Below are the key areas to set up the test environment for the testers to execute the test cases:

  • Database: This is one of the most important software applications to be present in the test environment. It can be client-server, mobile, application, or any other. The database is needed at every part of the backend.
  • Operating System: This is the program that is loaded into the system and manages every application on the system. This includes the Client operating system and server operating system.
  • Network protocol: These are the network configurations required by the software, that need to be set up according to the requirements of the application. Different applications have different requirements like wireless networks, LAN, or private networks for testing. 
  • Test Data: This is also one of the most important elements. Complete, accurate, and consistent test data is very important for testers to design effective test cases.
  • Manual testers: Manual testers will check the application quality and conduct the test cases manually. 
  • Automation testers: These are the developers working on programming, designing, and testing any new or existing software. They use automated testing tools to automate the test case generation and execution. 
  • Documentation: Documentation like configuration guides, installation guides, and user manuals are required to understand the system and design appropriate test cases. 

Process for Setup of Test Environment

System admins, developers, and testers are some of the people that are involved in the testing of the application. The test environment involves setting up different areas like:

  1. Test Server: Every application that is tested may not be tested on the local machine. It may require setting up a test server. For example, Java-based applications, Fedora setup, etc.
  2. Network: A network setup like LAN, CAN, or any wireless medium to fulfill the requirement of the internet. It ensures that the congestion during testing does not affect other members of the team like developers, designers, etc.
  3. PC setup: PC setup may include setting up different browsers for different testers or different OS for different testers. 
  4. Bug Reporting: A bug reporting tool should be included in the test environment for bug reporting.
  5. Test Tool: A test tool setup to perform automation testing.
  6. Test Data: The common approach is to copy the production data to test. This helps the tester to detect the same issues without corrupting the production data. Privacy is the main concern in using production data. To overcome it look into obfuscated and anonymized test data. 

Test Environment Management

Test Environment Management mainly deals with the maintenance and updating of test beds. Some of the activity involved in the functioning of Test Environment Management includes:

  • Always maintain the test environment with its recent version.
  • Assigning the test environment to respective teams as per their requirement.
  • Continuous monitoring of test environments.
  • Removing the outdated test environments and their tools, techniques, and other details.
  • Identifying test environment issues and resolving those issues.
  • Frequent improvement to continuously and effectively evaluate the test environments.
  • Enable automation to reduce manual activities for improving efficacy.

Challenges in Setting Up Test Environment

Below are some of the challenges faced during setting up the test environment:

  1. Planning resource utilization: Effective planning of resource utilization is very important as it may impact the results and can lead to conflicts between the teams. Inefficient management and use of test resources deviate from the testing process.
  2. Dependency on external environment:  There are scenarios where the test environment depends on the external environment. In such cases, the testing team has to rely on the support team for various test assets like hardware, software, etc.
  3. Remote test environment: In cases where the test environment is located geographically apart the testing team has to rely on the support team for the test assets.
  4. Collaboration between teams: There is a possibility that the test results are not accurate in the cases where the test environment is shared between the different teams.
  5. Setting up complex tests: Some of the tests require extensive test environment configuration. The team may need to consider factors like time and resources to conduct complex tests.

Best Practices to Set up Test Environment

Below are some of the best practices that can be followed for setting up the test environment:

  1. Software requirements: It is a good practice to recognize the software requirements of the test environment carefully and make sure that all the software that is already available is compatible with the test environment.
  2. Hardware requirements: It is important to make a list of the required hardware components and if any hardware installations are done then test them before setting up the test environment.
  3. Tools: Check for automation tools and their configurations. All the necessary tools must be available for debugging, defect reporting, etc.
  4. Availability of test data: It is vital to check the availability of the test data and to ensure whether the test data is available in production or needs to be created.

Last Updated : 23 Nov, 2023
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