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Why is Agile SAP Test Data Management Vital to Continuous Delivery?

Your development practices are agile now, so why should you have to wait so long for testing?

Yann Guernion
Yann Guernion, June 14, 2017 3:00 pm
Blog > SAP | SAP System Copy | Continuous Delivery > Why is Agile SAP Test Data Management Vital to Continuous Delivery?

Did you know that testing can make up 80% of the time it takes to release changes for an app? As most of this time involves developers waiting for up-to-date test data, it is clear the process of creating agile SAP test environments has huge implications for the ability to achieve continuous delivery.

The problem of quickly supplying up-to-date SAP test data to developers is a prime example of abrasion between large, legacy back-end systems and digital front-end development. Today these clashes are huge challenges for complex companies embarking on their digital transformation journeys. It’s an unsexy topic not mentioned in many DevOps blogs and guides, but one that is essential to any agile enterprise initiative and the success of the entire company in today’s app economy.

While development itself is accelerated by many innovative tools and solutions, the IT operations processes that support it have not increased in agility at anything like the same pace. At the same time, data has increased in size exponentially while the technology that manages test data has stood still.

Why is SAP Test Data Important?

SAP is a core business system for more than 80% of the 2000 largest companies worldwide. A system handling so many processes creates a huge amount of data, the manipulation of which creates a challenge for companies looking to release apps at the pace required by digital transformation.

The providing of sandboxes from which developers can test new software is a key requirement for any company using SAP. The data involved is enormous in volume yet needs be copied quickly and effectively, and must also be validated.

How Long does it Take to Provision SAP Test Data?

Agile companies need to spin up SAP system copies when the development deployment cycle dictates, not when it’s convenient or someone is available. At present, spinning up system SAP system copies for testing or training takes too long – around four weeks in most cases – making it too expensive. The result is that most companies only do around ten refreshes per year.

The bigger the company, the more data it has and the bigger the problem is to produce relevant and up-to-date SAP test data. In the digital age, the agility of SAP test data is vital to the success of the entire company, as digital application still strongly rely on back-end capabilities. If there is a bottleneck in testing new applications, time to market increases and any genuine business agility is impossible to achieve, never mind continuous delivery.

Today many companies face such a delay, as developers fight for limited test resources. The cost of setting up SAP test systems is prohibitive and it takes days of manual work to complete copies.

The Need for Protecting Data

As well as producing accurate SAP test data at speed, data compliance is a key requirement. In 2018 new privacy laws will be introduced, stating that any data held will need to be private and secure by law, so scrambling or masking sensitive information becomes an imperative.

If you are going to create multiple sandboxes, you need to be able to anonymize sensitive data. However, for many organizations it is very challenging to achieve this on a large-scale. It is essential to avoid scrambling scripts that need to be updated each time data structure changes, and instead it is important to create algorithms that protect data fields without breaking functional aspects of the application. It is also vital to get rid of all manual tasks to ensure that no sensitive field is missed which would create the risk of a data breach on non-production systems.

The Role of Automation

With the automation technology available today, this entire process should be a totally unattended task and the time to complete it can often be halved. As DevOps adoption increases, the key is not whether you do DevOps, but how well you do it. Adding agility to the creation of SAP test data is the next must-have for any company that relies on SAP, so getting ahead of the curve and accelerating the process now will give your company a head start in the race to continuous delivery.

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Yann Guernion

Yann Guernion

Yann Guernion is Product Marketing Director at Automic Software. With over 25 years of experience in the world of IT, Yann has a wealth of expertize in managing the entire product line lifecycle.