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Test Data Extraction Methods for IBM InfoSphere Optim Test Data Management

Finding the right data subsetting strategy

Organizations need to work with production data for test purposes. The amount of data or type of data needed to satisfy test requirements will vary depending on the focus of the test cases. Depending on the requirements of the testing initiatives (that is, performance, boundary conditions, volume, and so on), different subsets of data from the production system will be required to meet the overall test strategy and objectives. The IBM® InfoSphere® Optim™ Test Data Management solution allows you to implement a production data subsetting strategy that will meet your testing objectives.

Several subsetting strategies exist for extracting data from your production environment. The process of extracting data from the production environment results in an Optim Extract file. However, the creation of this file is only half of your test data provisioning strategy. Strategies for populating the test environment and options available will be covered in upcoming articles.

Data extraction methods

Optim Test Data Management software provides several options when extracting the data from the production environment. To use those options effectively, the user designing the extract service should have some knowledge of the data models from which data is to be extracted, as well as the requirements within the test environment.

For organizations with limited production windows during which queries can be performed, the option to clone and privatize the production data is appealing. Optim can be used to extract all production data at once—privatizing it before landing it as the gold master extract file.

The Optim access definition is a user-created data model for extracting data. In addition to capturing which tables are to be extracted from the data store, it also contains the physical and logical relationships used in the data traversal process. An access definition can contain any number of tables with or without relationships.

Once the access definition is in place, the designer of the access definition determines which (if any) of the data extraction methods are necessary.

Selection criteria

If a targeted set of data meeting specific criteria is desired, Optim provides the ability to specify SQL WHERE clauses on one or more tables in the data model.

In the example below, the data model appears as follows:

Test Data Extraction Methods for IBM InfoSphere Optim Test Data Management – Figure 1

The start table (or starting point for traversal) begins with the CUSTOMERS table. This example operation requires the extraction of all customers in the state of New Jersey who are represented by sales representatives responsible for the city of Trenton.

To add these criteria to the access definition, the user would enter the table list and apply the criteria for each table.

Test Data Extraction Methods for IBM InfoSphere Optim Test Data Management – Figure 2

After all criteria have been applied, they appear in the Access Definition Editor.

Test Data Extraction Methods for IBM InfoSphere Optim Test Data Management – Figure 3

Test Data Extraction Methods for IBM InfoSphere Optim Test Data Management – Figure 4

If testing requirements are limited to only a few specific rows, Optim includes the ability to provide a list of primary keys. All rows in the data store matching the key values are extracted. The primary key list is shown as a “Point and Shoot” list within Optim. You can use this list in conjunction with the selection criteria or as the only means for subsetting data.

This example shows how a Point and Shoot list can be used with the selection criteria supplied above. The resulting Optim Extract file will contain all customers in the state of New Jersey with sales representatives for the city of Trenton, plus five additional customers with the customer IDs listed below.

Test Data Extraction Methods for IBM InfoSphere Optim Test Data Management – Figure 5

After choosing the Point and Shoot option, the user can select the desired rows using the Point and Shoot Editor.

Test Data Extraction Methods for IBM InfoSphere Optim Test Data Management – Figure 6

In this example, selecting five rows results in a Point and Shoot file containing the comma-separated values for each row’s primary key.

Test Data Extraction Methods for IBM InfoSphere Optim Test Data Management – Figure 7

This file is then supplied on the extract operation where any row containing the matching primary keys is extracted from the production database and stored in the Optim Extract file.

Data sampling

Optim offers various ways to select a sampling of rows. One method is to specify a sampling factor for the desired tables. This sampling factor is referred to as “Every Nth” in the access definition and dictates the interval in which rows within a table will be extracted. For example, if you enter a value of 10, the process will extract every tenth row in the table starting with the tenth row.

A second method is known as a row limit. This numeric value represents the maximum number of rows that will be extracted for a given table. Row limit and Every Nth can be used together.

Test Data Extraction Methods for IBM InfoSphere Optim Test Data Management – Figure 8

 

Another powerful sampling mechanism is called grouping. With this method, you can extract a number of rows based on values in a particular column in the start table within your access definition. You simply select the column in the start table that contains the values you want to use for grouping. For example, you can select the STATE column in the CUSTOMERS table as the grouping column. Next, you would specify the number of unique groups that should appear as part of the extract result. Within a group, rows have the same value in the column selected for grouping. The final step is to specify the number of rows you want in each group.

Test Data Extraction Methods for IBM InfoSphere Optim Test Data Management – Figure 9

 

Examples of data grouping using the CUSTOMERS table’s STATE column as the grouping column are provided below.

  Number of unique groups Number of rows/group
To extract all rows of customer data from any 10 states

10

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To extract 50 rows of customer data from all states

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50

To extract 50 rows of customer data from any 10 states

10

50

 

Note: Selection criteria can be combined with the grouping attributes to further refine the sampling. In the preceding example, selection criteria could have been used to refine the sample to 10 specific states.
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