Environments-as-a-Service: Free Your Devs – DevOps.com

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Environments are the bane of a DevOps engineer’s existence and have been since the invention of the server. They can create giant bottlenecks that hamper productivity and suck the life and motivation out of developers. But they’re also completely necessary.

DevOps teams spend a ton of time building and maintaining their development environments. They are critical to testing new websites, apps, products and updates; making sure everything works the way it is supposed to. And not having enough environments can slow down workflows as developers wait for their turn to use an environment.

There is a new push in the software industry to provide environments-as-a-service (EaaS)removing the annoying yet necessary work of building and maintaining environments and giving DevOps engineers more freedom to tackle more challenging, revenue-generating projects.

EaaS enables companies to use a third-party service to create a new development environment on-demand, including data, infrastructure and code—all the things necessary to build and run an app. Environments-as-a-service bring major improvements to businesses, saving money and time while increasing the velocity, delivery and deployment speed.

EaaS offers automation and codification of all the things that would otherwise waste DevOps and infrastructure folks’ time. They should be focused on higher-value tasks, like creating and refining what makes the company or product unique.

Removing Bottlenecks

When prepping for a new product or service, teams have to test all associated code to make sure it is functional, secure and that there are no hiccups. Multiple environments are crucial to this process. However, in many cases, teams work within a single, shared staging environment.

This setup means developers have to wait in line to test their part of the product. These bottlenecks are among the biggest causes of delayed releases.

Time is money, and in this case, lost time costs money. We estimated the total cost of managing environments exceeded $45 billion annually, and release delays cost organizations millions of dollars every year.

Organizations can layer EaaS on top of their infrastructure-as-code (IaC) frameworks, agile workflows and other important software. By doing this, developers can create a new environment with a single click.

That means developers can make a new environment for every feature branch pull request. EaaS also unlocks customization capabilities, as well. For example, testing requires larger and faster environments that integrate with other key services, while more scaled-down environments work well for processes like demos.

Now, developers are free to test and develop software, without waiting or stepping on anyone else’s toes. Plus, on-demand environments can also be destroyed when they are no longer needed. That’s capacity planning in real-time.

Save Time and Money

Capacity knowledge and better capacity planning mean money saved. Knowing how many environments are needed, and what types, helps organizations avoid over- or under-spending on cloud infrastructure.

Building out environments can take more than a year for even sizable DevOps teams and cost millions of thousands of dollars, not to mention the challenges of ongoing management, integration of new tech and management of cloud resources and costs. A third-party EaaS provider takes care of all of that, freeing DevOps engineers to work on hard problems, rather than maintenance and repeating work that has already been done as technology advances.

Is Your Organization EaaS Ready?

Any time a company automates something as important as staging and testing environments, though, it’s important to have all their ducks in a row. Luckily, the best ways to do that match up pretty well with best practices for building out any infrastructure platform:

● Using infrastructure-as-code automates the provisioning of infrastructure instead of doing it manually.

● Containerizing custom code makes it easier to quickly reproduce it for new environments.

● Finally, carefully think about how your environments will behave when they are created dynamically. Simple things like creating environment variables for hostnames and trying not to hardcode variables that are environment-specific are a must.

Organizations that have followed these steps are EaaS-ready. By automating these painstaking tasks, companies can unleash their DevOps teams to be superheroes for the organization, solving the biggest problems and letting tech take care of the rest.

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