Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Data Discipline: Why Should We Care?

Data Discipline is a subject that matters not only to database administrators, product support engineers and MIS personnel but also to developers and testers. Often software engineers neglect the importance of using good quality data and understanding the critical role of Data Discipline in their profession. Here are five reasons that emphasize on the importance of Data Discipline.

1) Data Discipline is the way to optimize efforts spent in gathering and creating good quality test data. Remember the notorious way of testing applications with ‘aaaa’ or ‘1234’ or ‘Mr.XYZ’ as field values? Let us avoid that! The next step is to automate test bed setup.

2) Data Discipline will help you think and be organized so that you direct all test emails to a bunch of ‘test only’ mail boxes instead of flooding the inboxes of real users!

3) Data Discipline will ensure that you mask all fields in order to maintain privacy and security. Using production data without masking fields such as phone numbers and other sensitive data is not the right approach. We all know that!

4) Data Discipline will make sure that you review all configuration files and use the correct parameter values. Else you may contaminate data used by other systems or applications.

5) Data Discipline will make sure that you avoid data loss at any cost. In order to accomplish this you will put in adequate measures to ensure that you do not run test bed clean-up scripts on production database.

Everyone who deals with data can benefit from understanding and following Data Discipline. Let us not think that this is an area of concern for DBAs or Production Support Teams only!