How do you deal with non-production databases at your current place of work? Currently we have a mix of Commercial-Off-The-Shelves (COTS) and in-house applications and we are going the route of COTS instead of custom build. For example, our HR/payroll is PeopleSoft and those guys have 5 or 6 different environments beside Production and we are being asked to provide more environments for future projects. The approach taken by Application Services is to have multiple copies of development/test for each individual projects so that there is no fear of disruption from other projects. Just think of the number of databases that have to be cloned and supported per application per project!
So, how do you deal with it? I'm planning to just restrict and limit the number of databases by telling Application Services that they will just have to be nice and share but for some COTS like PeopleSoft and Oracle E-Biz Suite, we might just have to set up instances like INT_TEST (mirror of Production) so that we can debug problems encountered in Production, DEV for developing or adding new functionalities, TEST to allow for full testing of modifications, PATCH to test out patches before applying them to the necessary environments, and DEMO, a vanilla environment but populated with standard corporation information like the sample VISIO data that comes with Oracle E-Biz Suite that can be used to verify bugs, issues, etc.