Ah yes, test environments; the first point of blame for development and testers alike, the black box, where information goes in and information comes out, the annoying, time consuming and mostly boring part of testing. From my experience people either love them or hate them. But regardless of emotional preferences, they are a pretty bloody vital aspect of testing. In fact without a well-managed test environment, you might as well not bother testing at all. And without testing, who needs testers?
… so, where does this leave us?
With one of the crucial aspects in testing being reproducibility, it is key to properly maintain and manage your test environments.
There is of course a distinct difference between managing an environment to test a simple, standalone app, compared to testing a whole system landscape, however the principles and benefits are the same. A test environment should be cost effective, reliable and purposeful and it needs to be managed so that software defects are reproducible.
Test environments are very much a part of testing, hence the name, however they seem to linger somewhere between developers and testers. Developers see them as an extended playground, testers as a misunderstood necessity and project managers as a budget eating nuisance.
The physical role of a test environment manager is in many projects unpractical and unnecessary, but the responsibilities involved should be addressed and practised; especially with the speed, size and capabilities of current technology. And as we know, things are only going to get faster, bigger and more complex in times to come, challenging testers and environments to keep up the pace.
In the World Quality Report 2013-14, 55% of organizations stated a lack of Test Environment Management skills in-house. http://www.capgemini.com/thought-leadership/world-quality-report-2013-14
As a professional Test Environment Manager, these figures do not surprise me and only reflect what I see in so many of my major clients.