As you might know, test environment management, which we covered in one of our previous articles, helps tackle numerous challenges almost every modern tech company faces: timely environment creation, test data reliability, test usage optimization – and many more.
But everything is not limited to these advantages alone. While some companies hesitate whether it is worth implementing test environment management while continuing to test by means of archaic manual methods, others introduce testing and infrastructure automation together with migrating to the cloud, which enables them to cut their test environment costs dramatically.
Unfortunately, owners of those “hesitant” companies aren’t aware of how much money they squander due to the ineffective management of pre-production environments. Meanwhile, automation of this process simplifies and speeds up work with test environments as, in fact, a significant part of IT infrastructure spend is related to them, and most project delays and release delivery issues take place due to management mishaps.
Once again, it should be borne in mind that the benefits of test environments management are fully revealed when and only when you use third-party cloud services to deploy them, because in this case you pay only for the time spent on automated testing, together with rolling out and tearing down the environment. Accordingly, only in this case you will be able to save on the infrastructure, and there is no need to scale it in case your demands on the hardware part increase.
How exactly does test environment management help with cloud cost control?
And vice versa, if you use the cloud on its own, without any additional test environment management infrastructure, limiting yourself to manual tests, perhaps a cloud bill may embarrass you. The point here is that the cloud is a very flexible tool – you can allocate as much cloud computing, cloud storage, and cloud networking resources as you need, and if you neglect test environment management, you may in fact require a lot of resources without being aware of it.
Test automation will help you access the cloud resources only when it is really necessary – during automated tests themselves, and the rest of the time not to use the cloud for testing purposes at all, because test environments, in this case, will exist only when the tests are executed.
Public cloud APIs of all the most popular cloud services (AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, VMware Cloud, etc.) allow your test team to integrate them into a pipeline where test environments are rolled out on the cloud dynamically only when needed.
This gives a significant effectiveness of cloud cost optimization: let’s say, earlier, your test environment worked 24/7, which was convenient for your test team, but was not the best solution in terms of its efficiency; then you applied a test environment management strategy that entails a dynamic approach, which allows your test team to limit the cloud usage to as few as a dozen of hours per week.
Another important part of the test environment management strategy that helps with cloud cost optimization is test environment planning. In a nutshell, this is a set of activities that allows you to come up with a strategic plan that will ensure smooth interaction and interconnection between your test environments with your whole IT infrastructure (for example, its place within your continuous deployment pipeline), an optimal resources utilization, and proper functioning of multiple test environments. A result of test environment planning, a test environment booking form, is an artifact where all the features of the test environment are indicated and which is used by the DevOps team so that they can build the environment that fulfills the test team’s needs.
A proper test environment management solution helps set up an effective scheduling of shared resource usage, that serves cost optimization purposes by avoiding underutilized and idle resources. Organizing simultaneous shared access and a simple booking mechanism enables every team member to be aware of the cluster utilization and availability, and gives an opportunity to use company cloud resources effectively and optimize expenses.
A couple of words about multiple test environments here, as this in itself is a critical factor in saving cloud resources: if your development team runs multiple projects, your deployment pipeline (if it’s set up properly) can handle several temporary test environments simultaneously, which is unrealizable when it comes to static test deployments for obvious reasons.
One more thing that helps optimize cloud costs and is worth mentioning is full visibility into test environments, their lifecycle, and costs. With no test environment management, your testers end up with zero visibility into instances they work with, which leaves them with limited control over those instances and might inflict misconfiguration, outages, or, in the worst cases, data breaches.
As we already said, the combination of cloud and test environment management and automation offers unprecedented and unmatched opportunities for testing. Together, these two techniques can save you much time and money: TEM enables quick test execution, resulting in essential cloud usage and cost cuts.
OptScale, a robust Test Environment Management platform, provides customers with all the tools needed to optimize cloud usage. It allows them to manage multiple environments, their health and availability; book environments and organize shared use; track the deploy history & review software versions; collaborate via Jira, Slack, or OptScale UI – and many more.
From the business’s standpoint, it helps increase R&D and software delivery speed, cut infrastructure costs, boost the test team productivity, eliminate environment chaos and decrease CI/CD complexity.