Synthetic data, or test data generation is a hot topic in the Test Data Management industry at the moment. Here, I have chosen five of the many possible reasons why more and more testing teams are choosing to “go synthetic”.
There are many different reasons for doing so, ranging from wanting to improve the quality of test data, needing access to the right data at the right time, wanting to reduce costs of manually creating test data, to guaranteeing 100% compliance.
Here is a list of five reasons why you should consider generating test data and “go synthetic”.
- Get ahead of the game
Synthetic test data puts you a step ahead of the game. When you ‘Go Synthetic’ you will innovate your testing process and allow teams to test more rigorously in less time, whilst improving quality. Data privacy regulations are also becoming more strict and it is probable that eventually all organisations will be required to use synthetic test data in test and development. Going synthetic sooner rather than later means that you won’t be under time pressures to meet any new regulations.
- Test for the future
Synthetic test data has the unique ability to test not only existing systems and scenarios but new ones too. With synthetic test data there are no limitations on what you can test or the quality of the testing. You have the option to create the exact data you need for your tests, helping you to increase coverage, improve testing and work towards having zero bugs in production.
- Save Time and Auto Create
Projects often have to wait for other upstream project teams to provide them with data, leaving testers and developers waiting and unable to begin their work. Synthetic test data can set them free, by allowing them to quickly synthesize the data they need, when they need it.
Many Agile projects struggle to get the right data for agile development because they need new data at the beginning, middle and end of a sprint. When an agile project chooses to “go synthetic” they will be able to save time by quickly mocking up and synthesizing data. Something that is essential in order for an agile project to be a real success.
Of course you can try to manually create test data, however it’s proven that this is a long and tedious process that rarely results in quality data. When you ‘go synthetic’ you can automatically create millions of rows of interrelated test data, based on your criteria, literally in minutes. This will rapidly speed up testing as teams will no longer waste time manually creating test data.
The great thing about choosing to ‘go synthetic’ is that it will provide you with quality data sooner, helping teams to keep within their deadlines.
- Smaller, Richer Sets of Intelligent Data
Production data offers volume, however when it comes to test data it’s more about quality over quantity. Often testers and developers only need a specific sets of test data to satisfy their test cases. With synthetic data you can create test data based on your test cases and requirements. This will let you create the smallest sets of data that have the maximum coverage- which might also allow you to reduce infrastructure costs.
This is a big one. With synthetic data you can create test data based on your production database. This means that the data you create will have all the characteristics of your live data but none of the sensitive content. “Going synthetic” really is the only way to avoid a data breach in testing and development. Production data will be able to stay where it belongs- in production. . Think of the cost savings with average fines of up to $3.5 million! (According to recent Ponemon research)
What do you think about using synthetic test data? Have you tried it?
About The Author
Huw Price has been the lead technical architect for several US and European software companies over the last 30 years. Huw is Managing Director of Grid-Tools, a leading test data management vendor and Chief Technical Architect at Agile Designer. Huw has been guest speaker at many conferences including Oracle, HP, Star East and the IIBA’s UK Chapter. He was awarded “IT Director of the Year 2010″ by QA Guild and is an adviser to Kings College KCL. Huw also has experience offering strategic advice to large corporationslike Deutsche Bank and Capgemini.