Walk into any IT shop and chances are, you are going to find someone, somewhere, doing the unthinkable – testing in the production environment. It happens every day and for a variety of reasons. Many small to mid-sized IT organizations lack an adequate testing or development environment. Commonly this has been due to the high cost of setting up and maintaining such an environment. Also, it is commonly due to the physical space duplication IT assets would occupy.
Organizations have had to do more with less over the past few years, and many times, unless it can generate a crystal clear ROI, getting approval to setup development areas just isn’t deemed a high priority (until something goes wrong in production).
Whatever the reason in the past, many firms realize the need for a development and testing environment for their IT operations going forward. So much of business depends on IT, that it’s becoming critical that even the smallest of shops maintain 24x7 availability. Nobody wants to be ‘the guy’ that brings production to a halt because they were testing out some new codes on the servers.
Luckily, thanks to developments in virtualization technology and a growing market of reconditioned and remanufactured IT equipment, the cost of setting up a development environment has been falling dramatically over the past few years. Firms found out that they didn’t need the same caliber of production equipment for their testing needs, just something that could replicate the general design. It may not be as fast as production – but it sure can help catch errors before those very errors bring down production.
It’s not just about money and keeping the systems up anymore, either. Many organizations are also facing increased regulatory and auditing requirements. Those small ten-person shops that once enjoyed the freedom of being able to do what they want, when they want to, are finding that even they are facing increased pressure by both the customers they do business with, and by an increasing global marketplace that recognizes the need to perform audits and checks at every step in the game.
Many times virtualized systems work great for development environments – you can easily fit many development machines onto a single physical machine, and have complete control over your environment. These machines don’t have to cost an arm and leg either – remanufactured machines make excellent cost-efficient virtualization hosts.
In fact, not too long ago it was not uncommon to see groups of developers with their own server rack. When asked about the role it played, the manager might claim that each team had their own development cluster, made up of recycled hardware that had been removed from production and remanufactured hardware, purchased from outside vendors. These were not the latest and greatest, but provided more than enough horsepower for the developers to try out new things and model changes to the business.
Pretty impressive; and a good reason to setup and maintain a development environment. Also, this is a good lesson in how letting those involved in the process be a part of the decision making for the process, can empower workers to assist in delivering great results.