What are Deployment environments?
Deployment environments in software are tiers or areas where programs and applications can run. Having different deployment environments allows organizations to create different instances to implement changes in their digital channels such as in a public website or a private transactional application, before publishing for their customers. This greatly reduces the risk of errors.
This type of environment architecture varies significantly depending on the product and implementation, but it generally works on the principle of having different instances of a website. In this model, the first tier is where changes are introduced, and the second tier is where they are deployed to the end-user.
The first tier of a site or application can have several instances, but usually has at least one development environment where teams can publish and test their changes. When all changes are verified, these changes can be moved to the second tier, usually known as the production environment.
Common Use Cases
One of the most common implementations uses four different tiers or instances to help teams keep track of changes and their effects on the overall performance of an application. These four tiers are:
Development environment: This is the environment developers use to add new capabilities and test new features in an environment meant to simulate a production environment. This environment is subject to constant change and may fail or exhibit unexpected behaviors without any warning. This is normal for environments where completely new features and functions are born!
Test environment: These types of environments are used to run unit tests automatically, as well as other quality assurance control. Unlike the development environment, changes are less frequent, typically at predefined times, and only includes features that work without problems or errors within the development environment.
Staging environment: This environment is a mirror or an exact clone down to the smallest detail of a live production environment. Staging environments only include features approved and verified in the test environment. The goal of this environment is to confirm the application as a whole remains stable after implementing the latest features.
Production environment: This is where the public application runs for the end-user. Any new feature that arrives here should, theoretically, work perfectly.
Why are deployment environments necessary?
Separating environments ensures that changes can be carefully monitored and controlled as they pass through different stages. For example, a newly implemented feature is first deployed in the "test" environment, where developers can monitor and control it. Once the feature is tested for bugs and verified, it can be deployed to the 'production' environment.
This workflow is designed to avoid introducing regressions/rollbacks, or bugs because it uses a system of independent servers that allow detailed review, quick isolation, and bug fixing.
Since all the changes are implemented in the same configuration as the production server, it is possible to verify if they affect other application areas and are compatible with the production ecosystem.
Synchronizing Deployment environments is critical
For this reason, it is critical that when using Deployment environments, every configuration element is replicated with absolute accuracy, the slightest difference can carry with it compatibility problems.
For example, a request to a database using a command entered in version 1.2 of your software that's installed on the developer environment, while the production environment is using version 1.1—that's enough to introduce potentially critical errors.
Maintenance and logistics are some of the most significant difficulties when creating this architecture, which requires a constant synchronization of every piece of software and library involved. It requires that each environment have the same conditions so that errors that only occur in a particular environment are not introduced and passed into other environments. Simply put, the massive benefit and strength of this architecture precisely relies on having identical environments to develop, test, stage, and deploy in. A simple oversight in the configuration of an instance can throw away the synchronized effort of an entire team.
Modyo's approach to optimizing Deployment environments
Knowing how important it is to have aligned deployment environments, Modyo has extensive experience working on enterprise services such as e-commerce, banking, and fintechs. This experience has led us to create a solution with all the advantages of a Deployment environment system, while simplifying the process and eliminating its complexity and maintenance issues.
Modyo's Site Stages can create instances of any digital channel, building an exact copy down to the smallest detail in just one step. With a copy or "stage" of a website, it's possible to securely implement new features only accessible to your development team.
Modyo's site stage combines all functionality in one place, in the development and test environments, because only tested and approved changes can move into a full production site. Site Stages also replace the staging environment because all services run on Modyo's cloud infrastructure, the same configuration where all digital channels run.
Once integration testing is complete and the new features are verified, then changes coming from the staging site can be merged into the main site with the confidence that everything will work as expected. Any change introduced, regardless of whether it comes from any instance, passes through the standard Modyo workflow, which guarantees that it will have the same team review and quality control as the rest of your application.
Deployment environments dramatically reduces the incidence of errors, allow parallel work from different teams, and serve as a firewall for regression or incompatibility issues.
The challenges with this type of system are the maintenance and logistics required to have synchronized environments working in parallel while maintaining a constant flow of code changes.
Modyo implements simplified, secure, and flexible environment architecture that allows a smooth development and testing process without affecting the user experience, perfect for high-traffic sites and critical services.
If this use case sounds interesting and you'd like to learn more, we'd love to talk to you about how we can help you with your latest project or digital product.Photo by Leslie Lopez on Unsplash.