Test Data Management: The Green Choice

Greenchoice innovates 20% faster and ensures GDPR compliance with modern test data management. IT Manager Bernadet Miceli reveals how it works.

The shift to green energy is accelerating across Europe at a pace few could have predicted. Wind and solar farms are popping up at an unprecedented rate. Government grants are increasingly available to curb carbon emissions. And electric cars are racing ahead.

All of which is good news for Greenchoice. We are one of the the largest providers of sustainable energy in the Netherlands, providing green resources generated from sun, wind, water and biomass to more than 400.000 customers. Our ambition is to help 40% of customers generate their own energy by 2020.

Our success doesn’t come easy though. Owing to the lightning pace of change in the green energy market, Greenchoice needs to innovate faster than ever before to stay one step ahead of its competitors and maintain customer satisfaction and loyalty. We are also obliged to comply with the imminent demands of the European Union General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) legislation, which has wide-ranging implications for the type of data which can be used in non-production environments.

Software applications are key to support this dynamic change – and software testing is an intrinsic part of this. Greenchoice recently took the step to introduce automated testing as part of a continuous delivery strategy aimed at fast, high quality new services delivery.

The previous test data management process was flawed for several reasons. It was hard to re-use the test data because it was in a different state each time. We frequently needed to call in database engineers and test experts to create the right state – which was slow and expensive. And we were faced with large, storage-intensive test datasets, when in fact we often only wanted a small data sub-set.

Our trusted quality assurance partner Valori was already using a CA Technologies test data management solution, and recommended we explore the solution. Following a rigorous three-day proof of concept and a reference site visit, we quickly concluded that CA Technologies would reshape Greenchoice’s testing space.

We now have the flexibility to rapidly create virtual copies of test data on-demand to give each tester their own test data. The headache of calling upon database engineers and test experts to support the test set-up has disappeared too: data can be centrally stored as a reusable asset, cloned as it’s provisioned and matched to the exact tests it can run. Rules and data models are also centrally stored, avoiding repeated effort.

Crucially, synthetic data generation ensures compliance with the GDPR. For ‘synthetic’ read ‘fully virtualised, fictitious test environments’ which avoid the exposure of personal data to testing. The customer data is anonymized before we use it in a test environment. That way, we know exactly what data we have, who’s using it, and are able to restrict its use to tasks for which consent has been given. The result? GDPR data privacy compliance.

Faster testing and GDPR compliance matter – but the critical advantage of this modern approach to test data management is the agility and rapid innovation of both customer-facing applications and back-office processes. Here the solution scores highly. Despite only being in the early phase of launching this new test data management system, we calculate that it will help us speed up the development lifecycle by as much as 20% while improving quality. We also estimate that it halves the amount of effort we need to put into the test process.

Make no mistake: with smarter testing, we can continue to deliver great customer service, which supports business growth and the adoption of sustainable energy by more people.

About the author: Bernadet Miceli has worked as an IT Manager at Greenchoice in the Netherlands since 2014. She combines her passion for great IT solutions with the higher mission of reaching sustainability.

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