Why Your App Needs Separate Development, Production, and Testing Environments
DevOps has become a critical necessity for any team responsible for a major project or several projects. DevOps offers the processes and technologies necessary to keep teams productive and efficient. Regardless of the configuration of your DevOps process and the technologies you employ, using multiple environments is a recommended practice for every large software development project. Trust me, I would know. By utilizing separate development, production, and testing environments, you can ensure that your product is extensively tested prior to deployment and release to consumers.
A typical configuration could includes separate Development, Production, and Testing Environments:
- Development: The first line of protection against defects would be the development environment. Developers use this area to deploy their code and test newly added features. Any discovered issues are addressed prior to re-deploying for additional testing. Iterate through the procedure until the code is suitable for the next step of testing.
- Staging: After developers are pleased with their code and believe it to be reasonably stable, it is pushed to the staging environment for additional testing. This is the location of Quality Assurance (QA). Testers connect to staging servers and verify that the application functions properly. They conduct test cases to identify defects and performance tests to identify areas for improvement. Any bugs or additions are sent to the developers, and the process is repeated until the code passes the staging phase.
- Production: After extensive testing, the code is deployed to production, where it is made available to end users.
The preceding environment configuration is illustrative and demonstrates the three most typical settings for software development. Your configuration will vary according to the requirements of your project and team. You can have more or fewer environments; for example, some people prefer to have a Pre-production environment to test code further before it is deployed to Production, while others maintain separate Staging and QA environments in which developers perform additional tests in the Staging environment and the QA environment is used exclusively for quality assurance.
Advantages of having separate development, production, and testing environments
As previously stated, one of the primary reasons for keeping numerous environments throughout your Software Development Life Cycle is to guarantee that the final version of the product is as bug-free as possible before it is delivered to consumers. Apart from this, there are a few other benefits of utilizing various environments that not only enhance a team’s overall workflow, but also assist them in meeting their business objectives.
Having separate development, production, and testing environments minimizes or eliminates downtime, therefore protecting the business from revenue loss: Protecting your corporate brand has become more critical than ever in today’s connected world, when news can spread globally in a matter of seconds. Having a product that experiences downtime or does not function properly can rapidly cost you consumers. By thoroughly testing software in a variety of situations, you can ensure that the product you offer to your consumers is just as trustworthy and dependable as your business. If the program is directly involved in the exchange of money, coding mistakes might potentially result in losses.
A few years ago, we witnessed the lightning-fast collapse of Knight Capital Group, an American global financial services business that deployed code to production that resulted in $460 million in losses in less than an hour. Testing code in an environment that closely matches the production environment may uncover issues that might occur if the code is sent to production.
Security Implications of multiple environments
Having separate development, production, and testing environments improves security: To ensure the integrity of your production data, access should be restricted. Team members should have well-defined responsibilities and access permissions to various system components. This is made feasible by the existence of various habitats. By maintaining distinct development and production environments, you can avoid developers from inadvertently altering or deleting production data. Additionally, it keeps critical information (such as passwords and credit card information) out of the hands of those who should not have access to it. In 2016, Uber published code to Github that included credentials to their live environment, allowing anyone to get their customer data. If their developers worked only in a development environment with development data, then the dev keys posted on Github were innocuous. This demonstrates the error of doing development in a production environment.
Utilizing different environments enables development without affecting the user: When you work with various settings, your team has the freedom to experiment in situations that are purpose-built for this purpose. Since there is no fear about tampering with live code, the team may utilize a different environment to test ideas and even deploy the code to a server where it can be made available to certain test users who can provide input on whether or not to adopt the changes on the main codebase.
Utilizing various settings saves time and expedites the product’s release to market: Rapidly bringing your product to market can provide you with a First-mover advantage, which can have a significant influence on your bottom line. Utilizing numerous environments when building software saves time since no one needs to wait for shared resources to become available. When several tests are run concurrently, rather than individually, all tests are finished in a fraction of the time they would have taken otherwise.
Apart from assisting in the rapid launch of a product, having separate development, production, and testing environments enables you to swiftly respond to customer input and adjust the product accordingly. For example, you might have certain environments dedicated to long-term, multi-month features and others to short-term bug fixes and enhancements. Without distinct systems for long- and short-term projects, you may find yourself unable to swiftly resolve defects found in the production system or implement improvements requested by your users, resulting in extremely dissatisfied consumers.
Matthew J Fitzgerald is an experienced DevOps engineer, Company Founder, Author, and Programmer. He Founded Fitzgerald Tech Solutions and several other startups. He enjoys playing in his homelab, gardening, playing the drums, rooting for Chicago and Purdue sports, and hanging out with friends.