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April 5, 2023

What Are the Best Test Data Management Tools?

Evaluating test data management tools can be a challenge, especially when you may not be able to get your hands on a product before making a purchase. The good news is that prioritizing the right approach and features can help businesses maximize their ROI with test data management tools. Whether you’re just starting your evaluation process or need to prepare for an imminent purchase, we’ve compiled the information you need to make the best choice for your business.

What Are the Core Elements of Successful Test Data Management?

Before examining the best test data management tools in detail, we have to consider what outcomes organizations want to drive with these tools. An effective test data management program helps companies identify bugs and other flaws as early in production as possible to allow for quick remediation while the mistakes are small-scale and inexpensive to rectify.

Testing of applications is almost guaranteed to fail if you manage your test data in a way that makes it not representative of the data your live applications will use. As a result, your testing will fail to uncover critical flaws, and then your company will face an ever-escalating series of expensive repairs.

Each new application or part of an application being tested will be slightly different. As a consequence, test data management must be a dynamic process. Testers need to alter datasets from test to test to ensure that each provides comprehensive testing for the feature or tool in play. They will also need to be able to customize the dataset to the specific test being performed. The way the test data is stored in a database can be different from its form when used in a front-end application, so this customization step ensures there won’t be errors related to data incompatibility.

Testers also clean data before (or after) formatting it for the test. Data cleaning is the process of modifying data to remove incomplete data points and ensuring that data points that would skew the test results are removed or mitigated. Testers will also need to identify sensitive data and ensure the proper steps are taken to protect personal information during testing. Finally, most testers will take steps to automate and scale the process. Many tests are run repeatedly, so having pre-prepared datasets on hand can greatly speed up the process.

What Features Do the Best Test Data Management Tools Have?

Given the complexity of the tasks that testers need to perform for compressive and successful testing, getting the right test data management tool is critically important. But that’s easier said than done. The tech world is constantly evolving, and while test data management may seem like a mundane task, it needs to evolve to ensure that it continues to serve your testing teams’ needs. The best test data management tools provide some or all of the following capabilities to ensure that teams are well-equipped for their testing projects.

Connection to Production Data

While you could, in theory, create a phony dataset for your testing, the reality is that the data in your production environment will always be the most representative of the challenges your live applications will face. The best test data management tools make it easy for organizations to connect to their live databases and gather the information needed for their tests.

Efficient Subsetting

As we covered before, matching your data to the test is critical for success. Subsetting is the process of creating a dataset that matches the test parameters. Generally, this dataset is significantly smaller than your databases as a whole. As a result, testers need an efficient subsetting process that is fast, repeatable, and scalable, so they can spend more time running tests and less preparing.

Personally Identifiable Information Detection

An easy way to get your company into trouble with the growing number of data privacy laws online is to use data with Personally Identifiable Information (PII) in it without declaring the use explicitly in your terms of service and getting consent from your users. Consequently, using PII by accident in your testing could result in regulatory action. Test data management tools need to help your team avoid this all-too-common scenario by identifying PII, enabling your team to properly anonymize the dataset before it’s used.

Synthetic Data Generation

A synthetic dataset is one of the most effective ways to sidestep the PII problem. Synthetic data resembles your source information, but unlike anonymized datasets, it holds little to no chance of being reversed. Because it doesn’t contain PII, it’s not subject to data privacy laws. One risk of synthetic data is that its creation may lead to data points with distorted relationships, compromising testing or analysis. However, Mage’s synthetic data solution uses an advanced method that preserves the underlying statistical relationships, even as the data points are recreated. This approach ensures the dataset is representative of your data while guaranteeing that no personal information is put at risk.

How Do Current Test Data Management Tools Compare?

Now that we’ve looked at what test data management programs and tools need to do for success, let’s examine how Mage fits into the overall marketplace.

Here we compare Mage’s test data management capabilities against:

  • Informatica
  • Delphix
  • Oracle Enterprise Manager

We consider not only raw capabilities, but other factors that actual users have reported as important.

Informatica vs. Mage

Informatica is a well-known test data management solution that offers the core features needed for successful test data management, including automated personal data discovery, data subsetting, and data masking. Users have raised issues with the platform though. One common customer complaint is that the tool doesn’t do anything that the competition doesn’t, has a steep learning curve, and is more expensive than competing tools. According to Gartner’s verified reviews, users rated Mage higher in every capability category, including dynamic and static data masking, subsetting, sensitive data discovery, and performance and scalability.

Delphix vs. Mage

Unlike Informatica, Delphix generally has kept up with modern developments in test data management. It receives high ratings across the board for its functionality, and if that were the entire story, it would be hard to pick an alternative. But it doesn’t have an amazing user interface, which makes daily operation uncomfortable and makes setup more challenging than it needs to be. It also isn’t as interoperable as other systems, with some data sources unable to connect, limiting the tool’s usefulness. Contrastingly, Mage embraces APIs for connecting to data sources and provides an API setup that allows companies to integrate third-party or legacy solutions for test data management, ensuring that companies aren’t locked out of the functionality they need.

Oracle Enterprise Manager vs. Mage

Oracle has long been one of the kings of database tools, so it’s unsurprising that Oracle Enterprise Manager’s test data management solution is generally well-regarded. It’s especially praised for both its power and its user-friendliness, which is to be expected from a company of this size. What may surprise you is that based on customer reviews, Mage outperforms Oracle Enterprise Manager in 6/6 capability categories, 2/2 for Evaluation & Contracting, 4/4 for Integration & Deployment, and 2/3 for Service & Support. Given Oracle Enterprise Manager’s generally high price, and Mage’s better performance across almost all categories, Mage clearly comes out on top.

Why Choose Mage for Test Data Management

For success in test data management, you need a solution that provides comprehensive coverage for each use case you may face. Mage knows this, and that’s why its test data management solution provides nearly everything you could need right out of the box, including database cloning and virtualization, data discovery and masking, data subsetting, and synthetic data generation. However, we know that not all use cases will be perfectly met with an off-the-shelf tool, so our system also allows for flexible customization for niche business needs that require a special touch.

How Mage Helps with Test Data Management

Mage is a best-in-class tool for test data management, but that doesn’t mean the benefits stop there. Mage provides a suite of data protection tools, enabling businesses to protect every part of their stack from a single dashboard. And, unlike other tools, we’re happy to give you a peek under the hood before you sign on the dotted line. Schedule a demo today to learn more about what Mage can do for your business.