Datamaker is Grid-Tools' test data management solution. Most vendors offering test data management either do so as an appendage to software suites that are primarily focused on application testing, or as an extension to archival and information lifecycle management products. Grid-Tools was the first specialist vendor to enter this space and, for a long time, was the only vendor to offer the ability to generate synthetic data as opposed to database subsetting. Many of its major competitors still do not have this ability and Grid-Tools continues to have more advanced capabilities for synthetic data than those that do offer this capability.
It should be noted that Datamaker includes a full suite of data masking capabilities for companies that wish to use the product for database subsetting rather than generate synthetic data. Indeed, Grid-Tools directly markets a data masking solution in its own right.
Datamaker integrates with other Grid-Tools products such as Agile Designer (for automating the generation of test cases) and its service virtualisation capabilities. There is a Test Data on Demand Portal that allows users to share test data and test cases. Datamaker also integrates with third party service virtualisation products as well as testing environments from CA, HP and Bender RBT, amongst others.
Grid-Tools is not fussy about who uses Datamaker and has no particular industry focus although it does, to a certain extent, focus on the Healthcare and banking sectors, where it has had some notable success. Both of these sectors are ones that are heavily regulated and where compliance requirements around the protection of personal information are paramount.
More generically, the company's main emphasis is on companies that agree with its data-driven approach and who appreciate that agile development is as much about the data, and particularly the test data, as it is about the development processes themselves. It would argue, and we would agree, that you can't have a truly agile development process without agile test data to go with it.
In addition to its own teams, the company has an extensive network of partners across the globe, with trained staff in over 18 countries worldwide. These are split between regional resellers that serve the needs of local markets, and global strategic partners, which include CA Technologies, Accenture and HP. Partners in the Americas include Orasi Software and Softworx, while Central and South America is served by Green Light Technology. In Europe, the Middle East and Asia, partners include ANECON GmbH, Blue Turtle Technologies, Cast Info, INFA Partner, Infuse, Lemontree, Sothis Yazlim, Spica Solutions, WSM, MTP, Soflab Technology, and Software AG.
Grid-Tools has had some significant success in the financial sector though none of its major banking clients can be named. Projects range from establishing a new data warehouse to migrations. Government contracts and healthcare are also notable but again unnamed. The company's website provides a number of case studies though none of the named users will be familiar to the man on the Clapham omnibus.
Datamaker can be licensed either as an entire suite or on a modular basis. It runs on Windows, Linux, UNIX, IBM i-Series and IBM System z. Note that other products in this space do not typically support system z. There are native drivers for masking for DB2 z/OS, IMS, Oracle, SQL Server and Teradata while the Data Archive module supports DB2, MySQL (Oracle), Oracle, SQL Server and Sybase (SAP). Datamaker as a whole also supports DB2 UDB, DB2 400, Actian (Ingres), PostgreSQL, Sybase (SAP), Informix (IBM) and InterSystems Caché plus various flat file formats including Excel, VSAM/ISAM, CSV, TXT, SQL and fixed definition files. Synthetic data can be generated for HTML files but these cannot be sub-setted or masked. XML files may be created and masked but not sub-setted and this is also true for HIPAA (40-10, 50-10 and X12), EDI and SWIFT files.
Arguably, the company's major strength is that it can support all forms of test data, whether that be a copy of the original data, a subset of that data (which can be generated in various ways to ensure appropriate coverage) or by creating synthetic data that matches the profile of the original but which does not actually use any of the actual data contained within the production database. For obvious reasons, this last approach automatically resolves all data protection issues and it also means, because Datamaker stores this data in its own test data warehouse, that data can be easily and quickly re-generated at any time, without requiring any input from the DBA. As far as we know Datamaker is still the only product on the market that can do this.
This ability to generate synthetic test data explains why Datamaker is modular. If you want to use this facility then you won't need to use the product's data masking capabilities while, on the other hand, if you just want to subset data you will probably want masking (if sensitive data is involved) but not want synthetic data generation. Similarly, you may or may not require the Archival module that forms a part of Datamaker and ditto for the SOA testing module.
In addition to test data management the company also markets data masking solutions (built-in to test data management), service virtualisation (which integrates with test data management), as well as requirements definition, script-less automation and automated test case generation.
One of the strengths of Grid-Tools solutions is their robustness, and in particular their ability to integrate with existing technologies. In addition to supporting all major database types, files, and mainframe formats, Datamaker offers two-way integration with HP ALM/QC. Agile Designer further integrates with several agile project management and virtualization technologies, as well as test case design, automation, and BPM technologies. These include URequire Studio, Critical Logic TMX, VersionOne, as well as BPMN-compliant tools like Cordys and Nimbus, HP ALM/QC and BPT.
Grid-Tools offers a range of professional services which supplement the company's core product range.
Potential clients can sign up for a free 15 day trial of all of Grid-Tools primary solutions. During this period, they will receive the full support of Grid-Tools' consultants, who will help demonstrate how the solutions can most benefit their development projects.
Once a client has settled on a tool, Grid-Tools aim to help them get the greatest benefit out of it within their organisation. In addition to a full range of consultancy work packages, introductory training courses and workshops for users of all technical ability are offered, and are frequently held in local regions including the UK, USA and India.
With respect to Datamaker in particular Grid-Tools offers strategic advice, training, and support plus free trials of the software, for organizations looking to implement end-to-end test data management. This often involves a period of on-site consulting, advising on technological and procedural improvements to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of software development, while reducing costs.
Grid-Tools offers bespoke consultancy which focus on the key areas of test data management. This includes data management and provisioning, Test Mart and Test Data on Demand packages. Synthetic data generation and data cloning packages are also available. Data security concerns are addressed by masking and subsetting work packages, and a Data Masking Audit is able to assess the effectiveness, cost and consistency of existing practices. A full audit of existing systems is also available, to eliminate "technical debt", while test matching services can be provided to reduce automated test failure.
A two-day Datamaker training course is offered, to guide users from the basics of the tool to more advanced tasks. The course exposes users to how data is organized within Datamaker, providing them with an understanding of its powerful synthetic data creation functions.