The Impact of Ephemeral Environments on the Software Development Life Cycle

Ephemeral Environments on SDLC

Ephemeral environments are temporary environments that can be easily created for a single purpose, and have become an essential part of the software development life cycle for many teams.

These environments bring numerous advantages to the table, especially when utilized with Environment as a Service (EaaS), which is a powerful technology that automates the process of creating test environments for developers.

By using EaaS, developers can easily manage multiple ephemeral environments without having to worry about the overhead of provisioning and maintaining these environments manually.

Remember that at the heart of the concept, you’re talking about highly agile, temporary environments that can be easily created for a single purpose. Once they’re used for something like testing or troubleshooting, they can be destroyed just as easily – all without wasting valuable resources that could be better used elsewhere.

In a larger sense, ephemeral environments can be a powerful help with things like continuous integration and development, all by automating the process of building, testing, and deploying code changes along the way.

With Great Agility Comes Greater Scalability

The most immediate benefit that ephemeral environments have to offer development teams of all shapes and sizes is a much-needed sense of agility.

Think for a moment about all the various essential purposes that live production environments are typically used for. Not only are individuals concerned with day-to-day development tasks, but they also need to think about testing, and ultimately deployment.

When a multitude of different people are using the same live production environment, however, everything must be handled in a very precise order.

Developer B can’t begin their testing – meaning they can’t continue with their work – until Developer A has completed their current objectives. This is part of the reason why, when using traditional development methodologies, things like testing usually happen all at once at dedicated parts of the process instead of incrementally along the way.

Likewise, if an issue is caused to the live production environment, it could negatively impact the work that virtually the entire team is doing in a worst case scenario. At that point, there really is no “one small problem” or a “minor inconvenience” anymore.

Ephemeral environments, on the other hand, afford people the agility to work when they need, how they need, regardless of what anyone else is doing. Do you need to be able to troubleshoot a particular bug without worrying about causing problems for anyone else?

Quickly set up an ephemeral environment (that is temporary by its nature), complete your work, and eliminate it before deploying your feature set into the live production environment.

Work is happening in individual silos, but it’s all happening concurrently – meaning the process itself moves along much faster than most teams are probably used to. This increased sense of agility also affords teams far better scalability, as the same benefits are extended to individual developers regardless of how the team continues to grow and change over time. 

Streamlining the Software Development Process

In a larger sense, this can also help significantly streamline the software development process regardless of the scope of the project that you’re working on.

To return to the example of troubleshooting a known error, each stage of the software development life cycle is performed in an environment that is both isolated and totally controlled. This helps dramatically reduce the risks of conflicts and potential errors between teams and even in the disparate environments that are at play.

One of the major factors that causes software development to take as long as it often does has to do with the bottlenecks that are created along the way.

Ephemeral environments help to eliminate those bottlenecks, allowing people to maintain their own pace while still keeping up with the schedule for deliverables dictated by project managers and team leaders.

Not only that, but ephemeral environments are also ideal for the purposes of things like quality assurance and even collaboration as well. If a developer has spent a great deal of time designing a particular feature set, they may be “too close to it” to see certain issues that have just become commonplace in their mind.

They can quickly share that ephemeral environment with someone else, get essential feedback from an objective point of view, incorporate any changes that need to be met, and then deploy it to the larger production environment.

This results in small-yet-important changes that are taking place all the time, as opposed to major changes that happen all at once as is true in a more traditional development style.

Cost Savings and Beyond

All of this leads to what may be the most important impact of all: the cost savings that teams get to enjoy. Fewer bottlenecks means fewer production issues, which leads to a faster development life cycle.

Likewise, certain tasks can now be automated, freeing up the valuable time of developers to focus on jobs that generate value for the larger project and the business. 

Getting a higher quality product into the hands of the client far faster than ever leads to increased satisfaction, which means more revenue and an ability to move onto the next project with ease. 

In the end, it’s easy to see why ephemeral environments have become such an essential part of the software development life cycle for so many teams – they usher in a new wave of advantages that you would be hard-pressed to get through other means.

For many, the fact that they help reduce the risk of potential conflicts and errors between teams and disparate environments alone would be enough to make the jump.

When you also consider the fact that they help guarantee that each stage of the software development life cycle is being performed in an isolated and controlled environment, you’re looking at an opportunity that is far too important to pass up.

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