Cloud applications are typically hosted in dynamic, complex environments and need to be frequently updated. However, if you have multiple apps, each with multiple versions and dependencies, managing these environments is more complex and often results in duplication errors and delays.
So what can you do? This is where environment-as-a-service (EaaS) tooling can help.
EaaS tooling automates and streamlines the creation, management, and scaling of your environments in minutes, rather than the hours or days it can take using traditional methods. In this article, you'll learn more about how teams are leveraging EaaS to improve productivity.
What is EaaS?
EaaS is a natural extension of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), as it includes all code, settings, infrastructure, and software required to run your application in an isolated environment, as compared to just the hardware and base software that is typically included with IaaS.
The emphasis with EaaS is on producing environments that resemble your development and testing environments where developers can build and run applications without having to worry about infrastructure, security compliance policy enforcement. EaaS simplifies the process of provisioning environments by providing preconfigured software environments and server configurations, increasing productivity and saving time on manual tasks and processes.
By using EaaS, developers can build and run applications without having to worry about infrastructure and security. EaaS simplifies the process of provisioning environments by providing preconfigured software environments and server configurations, increasing productivity and saving time on manual tasks and processes.
For example, if you're building a microservices based application using Kubernetes, it can be challenging to set up a local development environment that mirrors the production cluster. With an EaaS provider, developers can access a preconfigured environment that already has Kubernetes installed and configured to match the production environment. This eliminates the need for manual setup and configuration and ensures that the development environment accurately reflects the production environment.
EaaS is typically delivered through a public or private cloud infrastructure, and users can access the environment through a web-based interface. EaaS providers typically offer a variety of pricing models, such as a pay-as-you-go, a subscription-based, or an open source model that you use for free.
EaaS use cases across the SDLC
EaaS can help reduce friction in your SDLC in various ways. Following are a few notable examples.
It's no secret that test and QA environments are critical for software development because they allow you to catch errors before they impact your live application. EaaS tools can automatically create and provision new environments for each test or QA cycle. This means you can bypass the manual task of setting up test environments, saving you time and enabling you to bring infrastructure into reusable environments.
In a world where the traditional SDLC is becoming increasingly constrained by time and budget pressures, companies can leverage EaaS platforms like Garden to provision playgrounds that help explore new ideas and technologies in a low-risk environment.
For example, a Kubernetes playground with the same dependencies and configuration as your production environment will help you explore new ideas and technologies without impacting the production systems. This allows developers to test new features and configurations, try out different tools and technologies, and iterate on their designs before committing to changes in the production environment or deciding if a new technology is worth implementing safely.
This freedom allows teams to reduce risk, improve development efficiency, and foster innovation.
How EaaS improves productivity
EaaS simplifies the complexities involved in environment orchestration, allowing developers to test different ideas in a low-risk environment, and adding value in the following ways:
Enhances DevOps workflows
As you know, environments have the potential to produce bottlenecks that reduce productivity. However, if they're operating efficiently, they're indispensable for testing new applications and improving products with updates. DevOps teams invest a lot of time setting up infrastructure, like highly available Kubernetes clusters, firewalls, and policies, with a lot of glue in a non-reproducible manner. These long and complex configurations can slow down workflows while developers wait for testing environments to be provisioned.
When you incorporate EaaS into DevOps, your team doesn't have to worry about building and maintaining environments and instead can utilize third-party services to instantly create testing environments that include data, infrastructure, and anything else required to build and test an application. The best part is that EaaS automates time-consuming processes, allowing teams to concentrate more on higher-value projects.
Accelerates development speed
If you have a limited number of environments for testing purposes, you'll often experience product delays because of shared staging environments. When you incorporate an EaaS platform, a limited number of environments isn't an issue.
Moreover, it can be extremely helpful when prepping for a new product release. When dev teams have a limited number of environments, developers have to wait their turn to run their tests. This is often one of the main reasons product releases are delayed.
Garden addresses this issue by allowing for smoother and faster product development. Moreover, the platform uses your existing infrastructure as code to define production-like stacks for your app.
The stacks work to understand your application's dependencies and versions everything, meaning that when you change one part of your app, Garden will automatically redeploy and test only the updated codebase, thereby reducing redeployment and testing time.
For instance, if you have three functions in your app, Garden will run, test, and deploy only the updated function rather than the entire app, improving your workflow. This allows you to develop and release new products quickly.
Enhances company agility
EaaS frees up valuable time and resources by automating tedious and manual processes that can be used to focus on driving innovation and business growth. This is because organizations can leverage EaaS to quickly create and manage development and testing environments without the need for manual setup, configuration, or maintenance.
The biggest advantage is how you can try out new technologies that are configured and customized to meet the specific needs of the organization to always stay on the cutting edge.
One of the most compelling reasons to use EaaS is that it gives you full control over your costs by allowing you to determine the number and type of environments you pay for.
In addition, since EaaS is a scalable platform, you also have the freedom to scale your environments as needed. This means you can delete your environments when you don't need them with the help of automatic environment cleanup, which helps keep your infrastructure costs low.
Moreover, adhering to best practices, like cleaning up your Kubernetes namespaces and scaling down your ReplicaSets and StatefulSets to zero, can help reduce infrastructure costs and can be automatically configured with platforms like Garden, reducing costs even more.
When you need to use the environment again, it can be quickly spun up, and you can continue your work.
Most organizations are continually trying to improve user experience and having ways to reduce costs and improve developer productivity is vital to achieving this goal. EaaS platforms can help create reproducible production-like environments for applications, automate processes, and enable the efficient management of multiple testing environments. This helps organizations save money, become more agile with their testing and development processes, and avoid environmental drift.
If you're interested in improving your SDLC productivity with an EaaS platform, check out Garden. It's built and designed to support rapid development, testing, and DevOps automation. With just one command from your computer, pipeline, or UI, you can easily create, deploy, and test your systems.
Emediong Samuel is a DevOps engineer and tech advocate with experience using different DevOps tools and practices. He writes code and is highly driven by the desire to create and contribute to a better development workflow. Dedicated, team-oriented, and life-long learner. Above all, he is a solution seeker aiming to contribute to the goal of moving software from ideas to actualization using different tools and concepts.