Why should you use Staging Environment

staging
Software Architecture Tips

Why should you use Staging Environment

In software development it is often necessary to have multiple environments to work on. By having multiple environments it is possible for many developers and users to work independently and simultaneously on a project, without it ever affecting the live site.

Today, let’s talk about “staging” as sometimes it is missed and we believe it is crucial for building working software. A staging environment is a nearly exact replica of a production environment for software testing. Staging environments are made to test codes, builds, and updates to ensure quality under a production-like environment before application deployment. Everything in a staging environment should be as close a copy to the production environment as possible to ensure the software works correctly. It is like a copy of your live website and is the last step in the deployment process before changes are deployed to your live website.

 

Why Staging Environment

As soon as all bugs in the application have been fixed, the working copy of the source code can be migrated to the staging environment. This version is the release candidate of the application. Usually, the staging environment is identical to the production environment, so software and hardware do not differ significantly when using the application. The latter also has the purpose of verifying connectivity within the overall system: for example, access to databases and interaction with the periphery. Since the performance of the system depends largely on the environment, loading times and other performance criteria are also assessed during staging. If quality assurance no longer applies – and this is likely to be the case with most projects – staging is used for testing. A staging site’s main purpose is to ensure that all new changes deployed from previous environments are working as intended before they hit the live website. By using a staging site and testing everything before deploying to a live website, you will be able to eliminate bugs and issues, so they never affect the user. Sometimes this process is referred to as quality assessment (QA). In this case, staging is in a sense the dress rehearsal before the application is migrated to the production environment.

 

Staging Environment vs Test Environment

The main difference between a staging environment and a testing environment is the level of similarities to the live/production environment. In a staging environment everything is updated to the latest versions and everything should mirror the live site except for the changes that you just pushed from the development environment. This enables you to make sure that your new changes will not break anything unexpectedly once you deploy it to your live environment. In a testing environment this is not necessarily the case, where the environment is less strict on everything having to be updated to match the live environment. Instead of fully testing everything, in a test environment you will be working on assumptions of how things work and instead focus on testing the specific code you are changing. The benefit of having a test environment is that you can test your changes faster, without having to fully replicate your live environment like you would on a staging site.

 

So, the stage environment is as similar to the production environment as it can be. You’ll have all of the code on a server this time instead of a local machine. It’ll connect to as many services as it can without touching the production environment. And all of the hard core testing happens here. Any database migrations will be tested here and so will any configuration changes. When you have to do major version updates, the stage environment helps you find and fix any issues that come up too.

 

This is when you would be able to do a demo of how things work and look. You will be able to see how things will work when they make it live and they will be able to give you any feedback you need. Think of the stage environment as the place you do the last checks and you polish things up.

 

Think of it as a safe space where you can throw everything together and find out how it works. 

And to ensure your product performs exactly how you expect it to in the real world, you need both a testing and staging environment. The testing environment helps you ensure that each component does its job. Meanwhile, the staging environment makes sure each component still does its job with everything else going on around it. 

 

If you would like to know more about best practices, check our online courses & workshops here

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