The Importance of a Test System


Most of us have three environments in our organizations: Development, Staging, and Production. But I don’t count Staging as a test system. Sure, I use it to do an integration test for code before it goes to the users, but that’s not the only kind of testing I do. I install management and performance software, I run script routines and so on, and I need a place to check that just before I do anything on my "real" systems.

I’ll point out software links on this blog, and you’ll get those from other folks. I’ll give you a script or two as well, and I normally warn you to "try this on a test system first". That’s not an idle comment – you really should try any software or scripts on a completely throw-away system, one you can rebuild if needed with no downtime to production. I’ve had more than one package change a configuration on my test system that would have been quite…unfortunate if it had happened even on my workstation that I use to manage my systems. After all, that workstation is my production system for the job I do all day. Sure, it might not have affected the server (whew), but any downtime on my laptop is downtime to me, and I can’t afford that.

I recommend a Virtual Machine for your testing. It is throwaway, doesn’t affect anyone else, and it has the added advantage of being able to take a "snapshot" of the system before you try that script or install that software. Then if things go all wrong, you can simply revert to the snapshot and Bob’s-your-uncle.

They always say a "word to the wise", but I don’t think the wise need the word, do they? It’s the rest of us that need the warning!

Comments (3)

  1. cgmergel@hotmail.com says:

    Counldn’t agree more, especially the Virtual PC route.  Love the product!

  2. Sacaa says:

    Virtual PC.. rightly said as throw away.. but somehow i face lot of performance issues with these VPC’s..

  3. Brian Tkatch says:

    Agreed. Good points.

    >They always say a "word to the wise", but I

    >don’t think the wise need the word, do they?

    >It’s the rest of us that need the warning!

    Good question. Ready for a Bible lesson? 🙂

    <A Href = "http://www.blueletterbible.org/Bible.cfm?b=Dan&c=2&v=21&t=KJV#comm/21">Dan 2:21</A> says "he giveth wisdom unto the wise"

    Midrash Tanchuma has a <A Href = "http://books.google.com/books?id=9XFeKX1w50sC&pg=PA259">passage</A&gt; on it.

    It might also be worthwhile to look at Ecclesiastes <A Href = "http://www.blueletterbible.org/Bible.cfm?b=Ecc&c=7&v=19&t=KJV#comm/19">7:19</A&gt;