Preprod Done Right: the Definitive Guide

07

OCTOBER, 2022

by Mercy Kibet

Before you deploy your code to production, it has to undergo several steps. We often refer to these steps as preproduction. Although you might expect these additional steps to slow down your development process, they help speed up the time to production. When you set up a preproduction environment correctly, you improve the performance of your code. 

Software preproduction done right—it’s the difference between a software development project that makes you proud and one you can’t wait to move on from.

This post will discuss how to do preprod correctly and create a thriving preproduction environment.

What Is Preprod?

Preprod is a process by which an organization prepares the environment and infrastructure for each release by performing tests on applications before deployment to production. 

It encompasses all the processes that prepare an application for deployment, such as automated testing, release management, design and architecture, quality assurance testing, and monitoring. Preproduction ensures production readiness, where the company and its departments prepare the environment for each release. They confirm that an application is error free before deployment. 

The goal of preprod is to build a culture that prevents production problems from happening. In addition, preproduction engineering involves the entire software development life cycle of the application, from inception to release and rollback. Release management is critical to ensure that each release receives the proper attention and that you find problems early in the development cycle with continuous testing throughout production environments. 

Why Do You Need Preprod?

Preproduction allows you to test your code before deploying it to production. It helps you catch bugs that may otherwise go unnoticed until they’re in the hands of your users. A successful preproduction process has three key benefits: 

  • Engineering confidence. Once you deploy your code to production, it’s too late for you to make changes or fix bugs. However, preprod allows you to do A/B testing and risk-free debugging, after which you ship a well-tested and high-quality application. 
  • User confidence. Preproduction ensures that you give users an application that works seamlessly when you deploy. 
  • Marketing confidence. Besides being able to speed up the development of your code, preproduction helps boost market confidence by ensuring that you thoroughly test your software and design it to meet the needs of both investors and consumers. In addition, it can help ensure that the software meets all the regulatory requirements.

What Is a Preproduction Environment?

A preproduction environment is a copy of your production environment. It allows you to test and catch bugs in your code before pushing it to the production environment. 

Before deployment, some teams use a staging environment to test code and catch bugs before going live. Others follow a continuous delivery process and deploy code to an integration environment that’s tested before being used in production. 

How Is Preproduction Different from Other Strategies?

Preproduction combines various strategies, including staging, QA, and test environments. 

The purpose of staging is to mirror your production environment as closely as possible. It allows you to test your code in a live-like environment before you push it to the production environment. 

QA environments are preproduction environments used for manual testing. They do not represent your production environment and are often locked down or used by specific teams. 

Test environments mainly test code functionality and are not designed to mirror production. They are not the same as preproduction environments, which reflect the production environment. Preproduction environments should be as close to production environments as possible. 

Preproduction Checklist and Implementation

The preproduction checklist includes items that need to be completed in a preproduction environment before deploying to production. It helps you catch bugs before they go live and ensures that your code is ready to be deployed.  

– Code review: how you ensure code quality and find bugs. Its purpose is to prevent mistakes from happening and helps detect technical debt. 

– Code testing: written to verify that you’ve achieved a specific outcome of an operation.  

– Code metrics: the numbers that are associated with software quality. They are a means to compare variables and show progress toward objectives. 

– Automated deployment: helping teams avoid manual tasks by building pipelines and test runners in deployment environments. 

Continuous Integration and Test Automation

Once you’ve set up your preproduction environment, you can start testing your code. You should test your code to verify that it meets the desired quality standards and identify bugs and issues. At this stage, you can also fully automate your testing process. The goal of continuous integration is to test the code as many times as you intend to deploy. This means you’ll test the code in a preproduction environment as soon as it’s ready for testing. 

When setting up continuous integration for preproduction testing, set up the preproduction environment to appear identical to the production environment. This will allow you to test the code in a stage that’s as close to the production environment as possible. 

Continuous integration helps you quickly identify bugs, issues, and problems with the code and make adjustments and fixes before deploying the code to the production environment. 

Auto Release and Release Management

With auto release, you set up the preproduction environment to automatically deploy your application. You can also use release management to release the application to the preproduction environment. Once you release your application to preproduction, test it. Release management and continuous integration work together to ensure you test your code promptly. 

You also use auto release to release the application to the production environment. This can be useful if you have a one-button release strategy or a manual release strategy that requires someone in the office. With auto release, you can release the code to the production environment without needing to have someone in the office. 

Monitoring

Monitoring allows you to look for potential problems, issues, and bugs before deploying code to production by checking the application’s health, performance, and general availability. Through monitoring, you can identify potential bottlenecks in the application and make adjustments and fixes before pushing it to production. 

What Tools Do You Use for Preprod?

The following are the common tools used during prepod: 

  1. Traditional software development tools such as source control like SVN 
  2. Test management tools like Microsoft SQLCA, MicroFocus ALM
  3. Source code management tools such as Subversion 
  4. Build automation tools such as Apache Ant 
  5. Build utilities and a product build server (e.g., Apache Maven)
  6. Test Data Management (TDM) Tools like Enov8 Test Data Manager 
  7. Data Provisioning Tools like VirtualizeMe
  8. Automated testing tools or frameworks like Selenium, JMeter, or QTP that can automate web-based applications 

Preproduction Best Practices

A few preproduction best practices include the following: 

– Establish which environment is for preproduction 

– Identify who handles the preproduction environment 

– Use the same tools and software in preproduction that you use in production 

– Keep the preproduction environment updated with the latest changes from the production environment 

– Use the same hardware, network, and environment in preproduction as in production 

– Keep your testing in preproduction realistic and consistent with testing in production 

– Create a preproduction checklist and a checklist for production readiness 

– Document and share your preproduction process with your team 

Preprod Conclusion

Preproduction environments allow you to test your code and make sure it works properly before deploying it to your production environment. When you set up a preproduction environment correctly, you improve the performance and quality of your code. Innovate with Enov8, kick start better management of your non-production IT environments today!

Post Author

This post was written by Mercy Kibet. Mercy is a full-stack developer with a knack for learning and writing about new and intriguing tech stacks.

 

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