The stage is set

At a time when technological advancements are so rapid, providing customers with new features is almost a necessity. If offerings are not updated, users may drift towards competitors. But developers cannot make changes in a live setting. They need a safe environment to test and add new functions to the products. A staging environment provides these safe conditions to developers.

A staging environment is nearly an exact replica of a production environment for software testing. Staging environments are made to test codes, builds, and updates to guarantee quality under a production-like environment before application deployment. The staging environment requires a copy of the same configurations of hardware, servers, databases, and caches.

Steps to deploy software include development, integration, testing and QA, staging, and production. At a time when users have little patience for poorly performing apps, finding bugs and software errors is vital for performance. Staging environments test on a near-production level in a non-production environment and can lead to further confidence in the software when in production.

Smoke tests and user acceptance testing (UAT) can be performed in a staging environment. Smoke tests check for essential service functionalities, and UAT tests are performed from the perspective of an end user. If a new build undergoes development and integration, a smoke test can confirm the main functions still work properly, and a UAT test can guarantee quality from the user's perspective.

Additionally, chaos engineering tests can be implemented in staging environments. Chaos engineering reinforces confidence in the system by constantly trying to break the code. Chaos engineering normally gets implemented in production; however, it is possible to start chaos engineering in a staging environment as practice before testing in production.

Although staging environments provide an additional layer of confidence in a system, staging still has limitations. No matter how well a staging environment replicates the production environment, there remain scenarios that can't be imitated. For example, it can be extremely difficult or impractical to replicate high volumes of traffic to test the application under stress.

If a staging environment is built incorrectly or is poorly utilized, then more problems may occur. If the configurations of both staging and production environments don't match, the data gathered from the replicated tests isn't accurate. Defects could potentially get released to the production environment. For example, code should be stored in the same way in the staging environment as it is in the production environment. If that doesn’t happen, the latency test results may differ.

A large amount of data can be pulled from a production environment, including information that could not be secured through staging, such as amounts of traffic. If you use data from the production environment to create and maintain changes, it can save time. Working within a production environment is faster. There is more upkeep with a staging environment, since new builds and fixes are prepared frequently and would have to be implemented in staging first.

Staging environment allows the testers to examine the product on a near-production level in a non-production environment. It offers a platform where the developers can perform an ultimate quality assurance check. This makes sure that users get the best quality. The developers can make sure that the new versions’ changes are working in an intended manner by releasing new features in staging first. Companies can also use this environment to give demos of their products to the customers.

However, it is not possible to completely replicate the production environment. A staging environment can only provide a close copy of it. This environment cannot test the product for the stress of high levels of traffic which is present in live conditions. It can lead to more problems if the staging environment is not built properly or if it is under-utilized. It isn’t easy to test the product for a very long period of time in a staging environment. Thus, developers cannot test issues like data corruption and memory leak.

Sometimes, people get confused between the staging environment and test environment because they have similar applications. They are both used to make sure that every component performs its job. A staging environment duplicates the production environment to test the product while a test environment helps to test a particular part of the product. Once the product is completely tested in the staging environment, the next step is to release it for end users in a production environment.

Glow’s role

Here at Glow, we follow proper protocol when it comes to testing new products. All products are subjected to tests in the staging environment before being tried out in the production environment, to guarantee satisfied clients and customers. After all, a little effort pays rich dividends!

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