Companies today are on the lookout for IT transformation projects that drive innovation and business value. To ensure removing legacy and adding new software won’t interfere with operations, you need a flexible and reliable test environment that mirrors your existing setup. For companies running or thinking about moving to Microsoft Azure, they don’t need to look far. Azure offers a way to test out new software changes against your current digital landscape without disruption and added risk.
Why Do I Need a Test Environment?
Microsoft Azure is a scalable and flexible cloud computing platform that delivers services like servers, storage, databases, software, analytics, business intelligence, and more. If you’re running your infrastructure and network on Azure, and you’re rolling out a system change, the Azure environment is likely impacted. To validate any changes against your current setup before deployment to the live environment, you must (or at least we highly recommend that you do) test the changes out in a controlled setting, like a test environment. That way if a change is going to cause issues, you can plan out adjustments before rolling out changes in the live environment.
Whatever system changes you’re looking to implement, whether it’s a new integration, a security adjustment or performance improvements, it’s crucial that detailed and thorough testing is done so that you achieve your goals without negative impacts.
Example: Test & Release Faster with SYSPRO
If you’re rolling out a change in your environment, we recommend rolling it out in the test environment first to see what happens and how the systems react. For example, if you’re updating SYSPRO, you could run a patch on your SYSPRO server and test it to make sure it’s not breaking anything. For other companies who have their own in-house developers, you may not want to roll out any new functionality in case it breaks something in production. Testing any new system change is also something your managed IT services partner can do for you.
Hayden Clack, Director, Cloud Managed Service of BT Partners explains, “We have SYSPRO developers on our team who can test out changes in a SYSPRO environment before it’s pushed out.” Hayden continues, “Not all SYSPRO users may have access to that though, depending on their partner, so having their own test environment would be great for them.”
Azure Test Environment
Microsoft Azure offers A Series Servers or A Series virtual machines (VMs). They are slower but don’t cost much and can be shut down when not in use. This way, you’re not always paying for them. These servers can be setup in Azure to mimic your real-life production environment. These Azure VMs do not touch your production environment in any way and is completely isolated from your business network – the perfect tool for system testing.
As mentioned, Azure’s A Series VMs are great as test environments because you only pay for them when you need them. They are perfect for entry-level businesses that have small to medium databases and are just getting started but still need testing capabilities that don’t come with risk to their live environment.
When Adequate System Testing Isn’t Performed
There can be unintended side effects on businesses when sufficient testing of new system changes isn’t done. In the retail industry, slow-loading websites have a significant impact on their bottom line. It’s estimated that retailers lose a total of $2.6 billion in lost sales annually. Properly testing their website would catch this and give retailers the chance to try and fix whatever is causing the slow-loading issue.
More serious incidents can happen in a healthcare facility. For example, let’s say a new electronic medical record program was implemented in a busy medical hospital. After going live, it became apparent a potentially lethal bug in the system was rolled out as well. This system bug was prescribing patients multiple doses of medications that could be harmful or even fatal. With sufficient system testing external to the hospital’s production environment, serious life-threatening system issues like this are more likely to be caught and resolved before going live.
Test Environments Aren’t Totally Risk-Free
You can isolate your test environment so that it doesn’t have any communication with your live production site. This is what we highly recommend. To test more accurately, you may want data from your live environment in your test environment. This can be done by migrating the data over to it. However, we recommend making sure there is no ongoing communication between the test and live environments. The main concern is confidential or personal data and information being used in the test environment which unauthorized people have access to. Going back to our medical facility example, this would be very concerning.
The success rate of digital transformation is somewhere between 5% and 30%. Obviously, there are many reasons for this low success rate, but one of them is unplanned effects on system functionality after implementing a system change. To help avoid damaging impacts, adequate testing on any new system change is a must. If you’re looking for more information on how Microsoft Azure can help your workplace with testing and rolling out system changes, including implementing innovative technologies that provide business value, contact us today to speak to one of our experts.