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Prod-Like Test Environment

Definition

It is crucial to leverage pre-production environments in your CI/CD to run all of your tests (Unit / Integration / UAT / Manual QA / E2E) early and often. Test environments increase interaction with new features and exposure to bugs – both of which are important prerequisites for reliable software.

Example Implementations

There are different types of pre-production test environments. Most organizations will employ both static and short-lived environments and utilize them for case-specific stages of the SDLC.

  • Staging environment: Ideally, this is the last environment that teams will run automated tests against prior to deployment, particularly for testing interaction between all new features after a merge. Its infrastructure will reflect production as closely as possible.
  • Ephemeral environments (collected from EphemeralEnvironments.io): These are full-stack, on-demand environments that are spun up on every code change. Each ephemeral environment should be leveraged in your pipeline, which will run E2E, unit, and integration tests against them on every code change. These environments are defined in version control and created and destroyed automatically on demand. They are short-lived by definition but should closely resemble production; they are intended to replace long-lived “static” environments and the maintenance required to keep those stable, i.e., “development,” “QA1”, “QA2”, “testing,” etc.

What is Improved

  • Infrastructure is kept consistent: Test environments deliver results that reflect real-world performance. Few unprecedented bugs sneak into production since using prod-like data and dependencies allows you to run your entire test suite earlier against multiple prod-like environments.
  • Test against latest changes: These environments will rebuild upon code changes with no manual intervention.
  • Test before merge: Attaching an ephemeral environment to every PR enables E2E testing in your CI before code changes get deployed to staging. New features get tested in parallel, avoiding the dreaded “waiting to run my tests” blocking your entire SDLC.