Test data sets need to be created to validate or confirm specific use cases during testing and development phases for packaged or custom database applications. Most companies use full copies of production data to seed test data sets. Using live, up to date data is preferable by Quality Assurance teams to increase confidence in the testing results. Two key issues with using full live data sets are increasing costs as well as introducing security risks.
Full Copies of Production Data Sets Increase Cost
As the data volumes grow, so does each copy of the data used in each test environment, increasing the cost of infrastructure required to store and maintain performance with larger data volumes and increasing the time it takes to complete testing cycles. According to the Enterprise Strategy Group, the number of secondary copies of production data sets required for development, testing and training is four (at a minimum). Multiply the size of the production data sets for each copy to get the total cost of ownership. With larger data sets, queries and reports take longer to complete. Many times, functional tests only require a small segment of data to validate a test. Subsets of test data would be adequate for most testing scenarios.
Copies of Live Data from Production Introduce Risk of Data Theft
If production databases store confidential, personally identifiable or private data, so do test copies. For every instance where sensitive information is stored, the chances of inadvertent or intentional access by unauthorized resources increases. According to the Ponemon Institute, over 50% of business data can be considered confidential while more than 88% of data breaches involve insider negligence. Masking live data in test copies removes this risk.
Solutions such as Informatica’s Data Subset and Data Masking can be configured to select and mask subsets of data for testing or training purposes. The reduced cost and enhanced risk mitigation benefits justify the need and investment in such a solution. More importantly, a secure test data subset project raises awareness internally to executives and managers of where they are exposed as well as where money can be saved.
Julie Lockner, Founder, www.CentricInfo.com