Staging Environment vs Test Environment: Differences You Should Know
As rapid technological advancements drive the digital era, providing customers with the latest and most intuitive applications has become a necessity. To ensure high application quality and reliability, businesses need to leverage testing and staging environments. Where a testing environment ensures each application component does its job, the staging environment ensures the components still perform well when deployed in a live environment. Let’s have an overview of the staging environment vs test environment, their best practices, and more.
Table Of Contents
- 1 What is a Test Environment?
- 2 Why Do You Need a Testing Environment?
- 3 Best Practices for an Effective Test Environment
- 4 What is a Staging Environment?
- 5 Why Do You Need a Staging Environment?
- 6 Best Practices for a Reliable Staging Environment
- 7 Staging Environment vs Test Environment: What’s the Difference?
- 8 Summary
- 9 Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Test Environment?
Every application developed needs to be validated to ensure it performs as per the end user’s expectations. Test environments are platforms that help design and run multiple test cases on the application as well as the associated hardware and network configurations. This environment consists of all the required resources needed to execute the tests, such as OS, servers, drivers, and so on.
Basically, a test environment is a setup that brings together hardware, software, data, and a combination of configurations to perform testing. These are configured according to the needs of the software being tested to ensure it performs well in all conditions.
Test environments are not one-size-fits-all in nature. It is the component that dictates the environment setup. The main aim of setting up a test environment is to enable QA teams to validate the application and find underlying bugs that are fixed to prevent any negative user experience.
Elements of Test Environment
Certain factors are required to perform testing in a test environment. These are mentioned below:
Servers and Databases for Testing
Servers are environments where software is deployed for testing. Databases store massive datasets in the form of test results from the executed tests.
Team of Testers
A setup for a testing environment features different types of people who create test cases to find all possible bugs and defects. These are:
- Dev team, which develops the software
- Testers who run various tests to validate the software
- System admin, who provides backend support.
Network for Testing
The network acts as a channel to transfer test data. The software testing process generates a significant amount of data in the form of inputs, outputs, simulation data, etc. An ideal testing network features a network, LAN setup, or private network.
Tools for Reporting Bugs
Reporting the bugs is as critical as detecting them. The test environment should use reliable and effective defect-logging tools so that the developers can easily understand what needs to be fixed. Some examples of popular bug-reporting tools are Bugzilla and JIRA.
Managing Test Environment
Management of the test environment is critical to ensure they can be utilized whenever required. This includes test beds according to the needs of the QA team. Test management also includes setting up a test repository and supporting software and ensuring these are updated through version control. Test environment management also means creating adequate documentation for the setup details, testing history, and outcomes. This helps in making future test cases and may be used as reference points in fixing similar bugs.
Why Do You Need a Testing Environment?
A well-designed test environment is essential to ensure the investment in creating robust test cases pays off. A test environment enables testers to have comprehensive feedback about the application quality. In other words, a test environment provides teams with the necessary setup to run the test cases.
A test environment further helps in providing a dedicated environment to isolate the code and verify the application’s behavior. This ensures that no other activities that can influence the output of the tests are running on the server.
Moreover, a test environment can replicate the production environment, which is crucial for being confident about the testing outcomes. The testing engineer needs to ensure that the application behaves the same way in the test environment as in the production environment.
Best Practices for an Effective Test Environment
Creating a software testing environment is essential for any organization that wants to ensure the quality of its software applications. This helps testers run various tests to identify and fix defects early in development.
Setting up a proper test environment needs experience, resources, and effort. Here are a few best practices for setting up an effective software testing environment:
- Define the testing goals. It should be clear what the testers want to achieve with testing.
- Identify what types of testing would be required. Some of the critical kinds of testing are Unit testing, Integration testing, Acceptance testing, Regression testing.
- Determine the scope of software testing. It should be clear which parts of the software will be tested.
- Create test cases while keeping in mind the requirements and features.
- The test environment should feature a comprehensive software, hardware, and network configuration setup.
- Ensure the testing environment is secure.
- The environment should be scalable to incorporate the increasing volumes of user traffic and app data.
- Ensure the code changes are validated periodically before the updates are pushed to production.
- Ensure the test environment is updated and includes the latest software and hardware configurations.
What is a Staging Environment?
Staging environments consist of software, hardware, and configuration similar to the production environments. It is through these similarities testers can mimic the real-world production environment.
Staging environments are replicas of the production environments. It imitates the production environment as closely as possible to ensure application quality. The purpose of setting up a staging environment is to validate the application approaching the production stage to ensure the app will perform well post-deployment.
Simply put, it is a stage where Dev and QA teams can perform various tests on the software and identify its best version. It ensures that the users are always provided with the best software experience.
Why Do You Need a Staging Environment?
Working with a staging environment allows testers to verify all assumptions made before development and ensure that application deployments are successful. Also, testing new changes takes care of the risk of bugs hampering the end-user experience because the bugs are resolved before going to the live environment.
It is also recommended to deploy the staging environment as part of a release. This ultimately allows the Dev and QA teams to identify any coding, integration, or data bottlenecks.
There are several benefits of using a staging environment:
- A staging environment allows the testers to validate the application in a near-production environment.
- A staging environment offers a medium for performing QA checks to ensure the application is of the best possible quality.
- The developers release the new versions of the application in the staging environment to ensure everything is working as intended.
- This environment may be used to share product and services demos with the customers.
Best Practices for a Reliable Staging Environment
Have a dedicated database server
The database features the entire content of the application. Hence, it is crucial to prevent the staging database override over the live database. It is recommended to use a dedicated database server for staging. Testers can refresh the staging database from scratch if they make any mistakes.
Ensure comprehensive testing
When updates are made to software, it is critical to ensure that they do not break anything. Testing assures that the updates and modifications made in the staging environment do not break the live product. A comprehensive test strategy plan, which includes both automation and manual testing, should be made before making any updates to the staging environment.
Monitor the testing environment
Monitoring bears many benefits in a pre-production environment, the foremost being ensuring that code updates do not hamper the production environment. Testers can know the possibilities of failure when the code is deployed by monitoring the testing environments and cases. It is difficult for testers to follow every possible user path and bug. Here, monitoring enables error tracking and ensures quicker code modifications.
Perform debugging and testing
Effective testing and debugging procedures ensure that high-quality code is produced consistently. These include automated testing, regular logging, and bug tracking.
Clone the exact infrastructure
When creating the staging environment, ensure that the same resources are used. These include:
- Cloud provider
- Virtualization tools
- API gateways
Ensure a secure environment
Since a staging environment imitates a production environment, both share the same data. If a staging environment is compromised, it may also put the production environment at risk. To prevent any security incidents, testers should use a different domain for staging with restricted access. Data should be encrypted in transit, and complex credentials should be utilized to access the staging environment.
When working with a staging environment, any data loss in the staging environment can lead to data loss in the production environment. Hence, it is critical to have data backups of the staging environment to enable quick data recovery in case something goes wrong. AWS backup is a recommended way to create effective data backups for staging environments.
Above we have discussed all about Test environment and staging environment, best practices and more , now lets look into staging environment vs test environment differences.
Staging Environment vs Test Environment: What’s the Difference?
A staging environment and a testing environment differ in the levels of resemblance these provide to testers. In a staging environment, versions are kept up to date to ensure everything resembles the live version except for the recently pushed updates from the Dev environment. This allows testers to deploy the software updates to a live environment while ensuring that nothing breaks in the process.
This may only sometimes be the case with a testing environment. Rather than testing everything end-to-end, testers often work on assumptions of how the software will work and test the changes made to the source code. The testing environment ensures that the code updates are tested faster and without needing to imitate the entire live environment, as in the case of staging environments. Now lets check out the table given below with staging environment vs test environment differences.
Staging Environment VS Test Environment
|A staging environment mimics the production environment to perform final QA checks on application.||A test environment validates each component of application under test.|
|It replicates all requirements and configurations of the production environment.||It is dynamic and requires specific configurations to test each component.|
|It validates the complete application.||It tests the Individual components or functions.|
Both testing and staging environments play a critical role in ensuring the application performs as expected in real-life scenarios. On the one hand, the testing environment ensures each application component performs its job well. On the other hand, the staging environment ensures the application’s features work well with everything connected around it.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between staging and QA?
The significant differences between staging and QA are found in the scale of the test as well as the agenda of finding bugs. The staging environment replicates the requirements and configurations of the production environment, whereas the testing environment validates a particular part of the product.
What comes first, UAT or staging?
UAT comes first in a software development life cycle, followed by staging.
What are the different types of testing environments?
- The Dev environment – This is where apps are deployed and unit tested by the Dev team.
- Test/QA Environment – In this environment, the versioned QA builds are deployed, followed by testers executing the tests and reporting test results to the Dev team.
- Staging Environment – It validates the application approaching the production stage to ensure the app will perform well post-deployment.
- Production Environment – This is a live environment where real users use the app.
How many environments are there in QA?
There are four QA environments: the Development environment, Test environment, Staging environment, and Production environment.