Do You Need a Test Environment for Your Job Scheduler?
Job schedulers are often implemented with a single operational environment for all scheduled jobs. For organizations using fairly basic scheduling tools, this could be because maintaining separate test and production environments is a lot of work. Why take the time and effort to rebuild every job in production after testing it?
Unfortunately, putting your jobs straight into production comes with several risks and causes you to lose flexibility and innovative potential. Pat Cameron, Director of Automation at HelpSystems, recently hosted a webinar discussing the importance of having a test environment with your job scheduler and how Automate Schedule helps facilitate multiple environments.
Reasons to Implement a Test Environment
Having a test environment is about more than testing the scripts that your jobs are running. You also need the opportunity to test full workflows, dependencies, timing, and error notifications. If you change a job or add a job to a workflow, it’s important to be able to see what might be affected downstream without doing any damage to your production environment.
Separating test from production is also essential for regulatory compliance. Auditors generally require a division of labor between development and operations, so you need to be able to limit and control who has access to your data and who has access to the production environment.
A test environment it makes it easier to carve out test data for specific application or database testing. If you keep your test database up-to-date with your production environment, you’ll always have a clear picture of what each job is doing and how much time it takes. Just use your scheduler to automate a regular refresh of the test data.
Your process for moving objects from one environment to the next should remain the same whether jobs are being executed on premise or in the cloud. With the emergence of DevOps, it is more critical than ever that there is an efficient way to move objects through development, testing, QA, and into production. Luckily, modern automation solutions can make all of your cross-platform DevOps processes quick and easy.
Test Environment Tips
When Pat runs tests for customers, she often sets up jobs with no commands just to test the workflow. Alternatively, you could run commands with timers in them to test workflow’s timing. For example, if you expect a job will run for 15 minutes, you can create a command to run the job for that long and test the timing of the overall workflow.
Make sure you test all the dependencies within a job or within a job suite to check if each job runs in the right order. Getting your dependencies executing reliably will save you from having to build any delays into the schedule to wait for prerequisite steps to occur.
In the webinar, Pat told the story of a Automate Schedule customer that runs a test environment side-by-side with the production environment. That means that all of their production jobs are also run in test every day. Among other things, this allows them to test failure recovery procedures. The IT team is able to find potential problems weeks before putting them into production and can test solutions without inundating the production support staff with notifications.
Innovation and Optimization
Pat shared one of her favorite quotes from Bill Gates:
“The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient process will magnify the inefficiency.”
Automating your processes without first optimizing your workflows can mean getting stuck with unnecessary or inefficient steps. If you are running a test environment, you can make sure each process is as efficient as possible before moving it into production.
You will never reach your maximum potential productivity without trying new ideas, including risky ones. Without a test environment, your ability to experiment and innovate is hindered. A test environment allows you to try out any new strategy that might help the business without causing damage to the production schedule.
Automate Schedule and Test Environments
In the days of DevOps, everything has to move quickly. That means that the job scheduler you use has to make it easy to export and import jobs to production without forcing you to rebuild objects such as calendars, file monitors, and notification lists.
Automate Schedule has an export and import function and the capability to automate the steps of that process, allowing you to keep manual work to a minimum. Furthermore, Automate Schedule will keep an easily accessible audit log of all your changes to the production environment—essential for your own records and for regulatory compliance.
For Pat’s complete demonstration of Automate Schedule's features for test environments, skip to 14:47 in the video.
If you’re still looking for an automation solution that can facilitate a test environment with simple imports and exports and a detailed audit log, try Automate Schedule free for 30 days.