What do ephemeral environments for DevOps mean? This is a question that is on everyone’s lips these days. Without further ado, let’s dive right into it and find out what’s so great about it.
Ephemeral environments are also sometimes referred to as dynamic environments, temporary environments, on-demand environments, or short-lived environments.
Rather than waiting for an environment to be used, the CI/CD pipeline stages are responsible for creating and destroying the environment(s) they will run against.
As ephemeral testing environments last for a short period, you have to complete tasks more efficiently and quickly.
The time can be as long as a week or as short as a CI/CD (Continuous Integration / Continuous Delivery / Deployment) cycle.
This version of the application is self-satisfactory. In addition, once a need has been fulfilled, the environment or system is discarded.
This is the main reason why it is sometimes called dynamic environments, temporary environments, on-demand environments, or short-lived environments.
Why Is the Ephemeral Environment Created?
The need for this arises when a program or code is sent to a temporary feature branch for integration/configuration or deployment testing. Once the codes have been analyzed, they are sent to the main development branch and merged with the remaining codes.
Characteristics of Ephemeral Environments For DevOps
Listed below are some important characteristics of an ephemeral testing environment:
1- Production-Like Look
Here are a few examples to help you understand:
Similarly, if you deploy an image to the ephemeral testing environment, the same image should be deployed to the production server as well, or if the ephemeral environment’s memory is 2GB, then the production server’s memory should be 2GB as well.
Because if the analysis or test fails, it is impossible to identify the exact bug, or even to check if it happens on the production server. This ruins the whole testing scenario otherwise.
2- Automated And On-Demand Environment
It is the next step to automate the creation of ephemeral environments for DevOps, allowing products like TerraForm, AWS’s CloudFormation, or Release’s Application Template to ensure the Ephemeral Environment is created in the same fashion.
This is the only way the environment can act as a service solution. When a pull request needs to be sent, an Ephemeral Environment is beneficial.
3- Replicated Data
To make DevOps look like a production environment, it’s crucial to have the same version of databases in ephemeral testing environments. This environment should not be shared with any other environment, nor should it contain different datasets.
During the cleaning process, the databases will also be removed in other cases. It is therefore imperative to replicate data for Ephemeral Environments, and you can achieve that by using an RDS snapshot-based approach like Release’s Datasets.
Keep In Mind! RDS is derived from Amazon Relational Database Services, provided by Amazon Web Services (AWS), and managed by SQL database services. RDS is used to store and organise data.
4- Ephemeral Testing Environments Are Shareable
You feel good when you deploy codes, implement systems, or make changes. However, DevOps ephemeral environments shine even more when they’re properly tested and analyzed by SQAs, product managers, and even normal customers.
To get testing done, it is important to note that the temporary link of the ephemeral infrastructure is shared with the team.
Interesting Information: EaaS (Environment as a Service), a type of Ephemeral Environment, is a logical way to improve development cycles. As organisations add or remove environments for pre- or post-testing scenarios, EaaS has gained immense popularity.
Additionally, you can improve the speed of new environments, reduce costs, focus on codes efficiently, and integrate feature branches with EaaS.
Therefore, why not EaaS when choosing an ephemeral environment for DevOps?
Note: Check Technologies vteams work in
Why Does DevOps Benefit From Ephemeral Environments?
Increase development velocity* by using ephemeral environments, as they offer all these benefits:
*Development Velocity: allows teams to become robust, innovative, productive, and agile across all areas of performance and operations.
No More Staging/QA Environment Bottleneck
Staging or quality assurance environments are used to conduct various product tests before they are deployed to production. Over time, however, such environments become bottlenecks when the product or business flourishes, causing problems and slowing down the system.
You can create limitless environments with ephemeral testing environments. Each code branch is also encapsulated in its isolated environment, which eventually becomes its integrated environment. As a result, no more single testing/integrated environments will be required.
“Early And Often” Feedback
“We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.”Bill Gates
Feedback is the lifeblood of any product, and when we receive regular feedback on the services and products we sell, only then are their chances that we can produce something better next time.
As early as the software development stage, feedback plays a vital role in understanding user needs and suggesting modifications while reducing rework costs. In most common development environments, it is quite tricky to manage bugs and issues, since you need to check the whole system from the start, and then you get feedback at the end.
In contrast, ephemeral environments for DevOps reduce efforts and rework costs. Alongside this, stakeholders are part of this environment, so reworking on coding is eliminated. Additionally, they provide feedback at the same time (remember that ephemeral environments can be shared through temporary URLs.)
How This Environment Limits? Get A Wing Here:
A Continuous Integration (CI) system tests only small parts of the code, not the whole system.
Additionally, integration and smoke testing determine the path of the user experience, so a developer needs to go back and check the whole development cycle to eliminate errors.
When ephemeral environments for DevOps are created, integration and smoke tests run within them, further conducting thorough testing and eliminating bugs at an earlier stage.
Allow For Experimentation With Infrastructure
Understanding that infrastructure changes are difficult, costly, and time-consuming is crucial. It takes a lot of time and slows down the whole process in the general environment. Ephemeral environments allow testing to be done in isolation without distracting the developer.
The Release Ephemeral Environments enable developers to add services, new databases, infrastructure dependencies, and environment variables with Environment-as-a-Code-like templates, which means no interference in developers’ work. This increases developer velocity.
Ephemeral Environments For DevOps Are Agile/Scrum Catalyst
The infrastructure systems and technologies of many organisations were unable to adapt to agile/scrum methodology and did not support a more iterative method of building software.
You must also know agile/scrum methodology is driven by environments that support “early and often feedback”.
If your organization is using agile/scrum methodology and has only one or a few staging environments, you are putting your progress at risk.
When working in an ephemeral environment, agile/scrum methodologies are incorporated, which results in good results. How? By submitting a pull request, a developer creates an ephemeral environment in which a team can iterate or share feedback, while the organisation is free to move in its testing environment.
As thus, true Customer Driven Development (heart of agile/scrum methodology) can be achieved when the stakeholders are involved in the development process.
*Agile/Scrum Methodology: It is a PMS (Project Management System) that uses incremental development. It aims to deliver a high-quality product to stakeholders.
Related: Are Agile & DevOps Are Same?
Ephemeral environments for DevOps are doing wonders for the development life cycle. It is now possible to get your product ready in a shorter time frame, and that too, without any bugs or issues.