"Can I Get a Staging Environment?" - Answer this question once and for all

"Can I Get a Staging Environment?" - Answer this question once and for all

Staging environments - you all know, love, and need them. They streamline your processes and make everything less costly. But what happens when you need another one, then another one, and many more after that? 

Relying on a single staging environment is common, especially for smaller teams. However, as an organization grows, so do the complexities of a single staging environment. Since devs share time in an environment, maintaining it is of the utmost importance as data changes and issues are found and fixed. 

Thankfully, there are ways to maintain your environment and not burn out your devs. Read about what happens when you start experiencing bottlenecks within your organization, the solutions that can help you streamline your process, and Bunnyshell’s Environment as a Service solution that gets you the most out of your staging environment(s).  

How to Eliminate Bottlenecks With Enough Environments 

The idea behind a bottleneck in a staging environment is fairly simple - with one or a few devs, a single staging environment is sufficient. The complexity of your systems is low, and your staging environment is manageable. But to the detriment of many organizations, complexities start to occur when you need to duplicate environments, automatically create new environments, move code from one environment to another, etc, etc. When these issues arise, it can affect your organization in the following ways:

it’s extremely time-consuming and impractical for devs

it leads to slow product and team velocity 

there are high costs and use of resources

additional downtime leads to loss of customers and revenue. 

To avoid such bottlenecks that affect your staging environments and to increase product velocity instead, integrate the below environments into your production line and invest in your infrastructure - the right way.   

Multiple Staging Environments

There probably isn’t anything more annoying for devs than repetitive manual work, including:

  • preparing your environment  
  • asking for staging access 
  • rolling back “dirty” test data
  • deploying the code using scripts.

When teams have only one staging environment, user stories can pile up, or pull requests can hang around for too long. Additionally, if staging environments aren’t immediately available for reviewers to verify changes, they’ll queue it and move on, taking up space and resources. That’s why teams require multiple on-demand staging environments (to be ready whenever reviewers are and deleted after use). Basically, you must have enough staging environments, so you never run out of them. These should be:

  • automated (deployments and cleanup especially)
  • immutable
  • integrated with your tools
  • flexible (it should be easy to create new ones when you’re introducing a new microservice, for example).

An Environment as a Service (EaaS) solution helps you optimize your staging environments, but more on that in a bit.     

Ephemeral Environments  

Ephemeral environments allow you to use your staging environments in isolation, so you’re not interfering with other team members. They’re also great because devs can visually review changes and share a link with any non-technical team members. Additionally, they help minimize rework, in turn improving development velocity. 

The best part? Ephemeral environments remove the staging bottleneck. How? You have a limitless supply of environments you can use for testing, so you’ll no longer need a single testing and integration environment to merge your code before it goes to production. Plus, you’re able to identify quality issues earlier in the development cycle, reducing rework and tedious, repetitive work.  

To quickly and more efficiently deploy ephemeral environments, it’s best to use:

And just as with staging environments, you can have on-demand ephemeral environments, so you never run out! It’s also cheaper this way (compared to a single, shared staging environment) since you’re only using what you need and discarding the rest. 

Training Environments

Having more staging environments comes with its own set of challenges, and there are many things to keep in mind, including how often to test and allowing for feedback at various points of the process. Thankfully, training environments allow you to create multiple environments to test different configurations, features, or datasets to eliminate bugs or coding issues and get the best possible outcome. 

Also, you can involve all stakeholders in the process with product demos created more quickly and efficiently while getting every member on the same page with reliable training and fast onboarding. And remember, training environments are more reliable than test environments because of their experimentation possibilities. 

Pssst, an EaaS solution helps here, too. Read on to find out how.

Environment as a Service

An Environment as a Service solution drastically reduces bottlenecks in many areas, especially in all of the above (and below) scenarios:

  • Staging environments - EaaS automates build and deployment, allowing you to successfully manage your environments, however many you have. Tools become easy to integrate, helping you monitor, maintain, and ultimately deliver a top-notch product for your customer. 
  • Ephemeral environments - EaaS helps save you time, money, and resources by automatically creating multiple new environments for you as you push code. Once you’re done testing whatever you need to test, your code passes all the tests, and you merged with the main branch to deploy to production, you can discard the ephemeral environment along with the resources it used.  
  • Training environments - with cost-effective environment implementation, EaaS allows you to train multiple stakeholders or fix bugs or issues by creating hundreds of different training environments, and you don’t have to lift a finger. You’ll also have peace of mind knowing your team has the support they need to train for or learn new features or updates.

Get the Most Out of Your Staging Environment 

As you can see, an Environment as a Service solution provides a consistent way to manage all of your different environments (and we understand you may have a lot). We at Bunnyshell understand that staging environments are critical to building software, but sometimes building and maintaining them can be extremely costly and time-consuming. 

That’s why we offer an excellent EaaS solution for your organizational needs. So, to answer your initial question - yes, you can get a staging environment

Oh, and don’t forget to read how to bring down other bottlenecks in our Reducing Bottlenecks in Software Development article. 

Enable High Velocity Development

Breakaway from the inability to quickly deploy isolated environments of any specification.