Updated on August 2, 2016 by Sam Lee
The Sinkhole That is Manual Configuration Testing
Testing is a crucial part of software development: it involves the execution of a program with the goal of locating errors. Successful tests are able to uncover new errors that can then be corrected before the software is released.
There is no point in hiring highly trained and expensive IT professionals to perform tests for IT environments using checklists. One of the major problems when updating a software program or a server is configuration management. It can be difficult to determine whether each component in a system will be functional. Unit testing for infrastructure is performed to avoid anger and disappointment that results when certain features within a system do not function properly after the system goes live.
Most data centers have a large number of hardware and software processes that are changing regularly. As a result, certain pieces of software and hardware within the data center become incompatible and it becomes necessary for data centers to find ways to prevent configuration drift and the massive data loss and outages that can occur as a result. One of the best ways to prevent configuration drift is to perform tests regularly. However, this process can be time-consuming if the administrators do not find efficient ways to automate the testing process.
Software that is not tested regularly is more likely to have a more expensive development cycle. When software does not function properly, administrators have to create patches or perform other services in order to make software operable. IT outages can cut productivity for an organization, and when software does not function properly, the organization can develop a bad reputation.
Fortunately, there are many tools that are available that can dramatically cut the amount of time that must be devoted to system maintenance. Utilizing these automation tools can help cut down on labor costs and accelerate the pace at which projects can be brought to the market.
IT Service Management
One of the most standardized approaches to IT Service Management is ITIL. The goal of ITIL is to provide businesses with guidance on how to use IT as a tool to encourage business change and growth. Given that ITIL is standardized, systems that use it must be standardized as well to make sure that they follow best practices.
A Configuration Management Database (CMDB) is a repository of data that has information on all components of the information system. The three attributes that form the relationship between Configuration Items (CIs) include technical, ownership and relationship factors. When the CMDB is functioning properly, it can automatically discover information about the configuration items and can then track the changes.
Automated testing solutions are a major part of CMDB project cycles. They can monitor the performance of applications through a cycle that starts with the gathering of information, move toward categorization and analysis, move toward the implementation of data, and finally end with the testing of the data before beginning anew.
One of the main benefits of using a system for configuration testing is that administrators can map out their IT infrastructures. Relationships can easily be established between different components of the infrastructure. Administrators can also see an entire map of the network from the viewpoint of one component.
Test Automation for ALM
Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) is the process of controlling the life of an application through development, governance, and maintenance. This process utilizes requirements management, coding, testing, architecture, release management, and tracking to help business managers easily engage in software engineering.
There are many situations where ALM testing can be automated, including that of regression test cases. The goal of the automated regression test case is to improve the quality of the product by making sure that current features do not fail when new releases are created. Another form of automation testing that plays a major role in the application lifecycle is the testing of software products to determine if applications will function properly in cloud, mobile, and other environments. If problems are identified, administrators can make the changes necessary to make applications compatible with different environments.
SDLC stands for Software Development Life Cycle. This involves a series of steps that create a model for lifecycle management. The ultimate goal of this approach is to create a product that is more effective, cost-efficient, and of higher quality. The steps also allow for the creation of a protocol for deploying and decommissioning software.
When performing automation testing for SDLC, it is crucial that the automation efforts integrate into the development project. For automation to be successful, the automation development methods must be aligned with the software development methods. There must also be a framework that illustrates the processes, phases and release cycles found in automation development.
Puppet is a software program designed specifically for helping administrators manage an infrastructure throughout its lifecycle. It is designed to help administrators automate numerous tasks including testing. This software program makes it easier to manage test-driven development.
Another option for controlling the automation process is Chef. This software program allows administrators to write abstract definitions as source code. These definitions are designed to describe how each part of the infrastructure operates. Then, the definitions are applied to each of the servers. If a new server is brought online, Chef only has to tell the server what role it will play. This software program can help administrators easily create a test-driven infrastructure thanks to the configuration management framework found within Cucumber. The Cucumber feature is a behavior-driven development tool. When used correctly, administrators can make significant changes to a system without worrying about serious side-effects.
UpGuard is used to eliminate as much manual testing as possible. Manual tests cost hundreds of thousands of dollars each year. Automated test suites allow administrators to know in minutes the source of the configuration-related issues. Then, tests can be rerun to make sure that everything is functioning properly. The automated test suite is best used before making major changes to a working system, and it should also be performed after the tests have been run.
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Misconfigurations are an internal problem that emanate from within the IT infrastructure of any enterprise; no hacker is necessary for massive damage to occur to digital systems and stored data. And the problem is pervasive, with Gartner estimating anywhere from 70% to 99% of data breaches result not from external, concerted attacks, but from internal misconfiguration of the affected IT systems.