Lower Cost with Higher Stability: How Do We Manage Test Environments at Alibaba?

Preface

Many practices at Alibaba seem simple, but actually rely on many well thought out concepts, such as the management of test environments.

Difficulties in Test Environment Management

Test environments are widely used. Common test environments, such as the system integration test environment, the user acceptance test environment, the pre-release test environment, and the phased test environment, reflect the delivery lifecycle of the product and, indirectly, the organization structure of the entire team.

First Challenge: Management of Test Environment Types

In Alibaba, there are also many types of test environments. The naming of various test environments is closely related to their functions. Although some names are commonly used in the industry, no authoritative naming standard has been formed. In fact, the name of the environment is only a form. The key lies in the fact that various test environments should be adapted to specific application scenarios respectively, and some differences should exist between scenarios more or less.

Second Challenge: Management of Test Environment Costs

Cost management problems are tricky and worth exploring. The costs related to the test environment mainly include the “labor costs” required to manage the environment and the “asset costs” required to purchase infrastructure. With automated and self-service tools, labor-related costs can be effectively reduced. Automation is also a big topic. It is advisable to discuss it in another article, so we will not delve into it here for the time being.

Building a Feature Environment by Yourself

Do you think service-level virtualization is too niche and out-of-reach for ordinary developers? This is not the case. You can immediately build a feature environment yourself to give it a try.

kind: Namespace
metadata:
name: feature-env-1
________________________________________
kind: Service
metadata:
name: trade-service
namespace: feature-env-1
spec:
type: ClusterIP
...
________________________________________
kind: Deployment
metadata:
name: trade-service
namespace: feature-env-1
spec:
...
________________________________________
kind: Service
metadata:
name: order-service
namespace: feature-env-1
spec:
type: ExternalName
externalName: order-service.pub-base-env.svc.cluster
...
________________________________________
kind: Service
...

Summary

While many people are still waiting for the arrival of the next wave of virtualization technology after virtual machines and containers, Alibaba has already provided an answer. The mentality of entrepreneurs makes people in Alibaba understand that they need to save every penny. In fact, it is not technology but imagination that limits innovation. The concept of service-level virtualization breaks through the traditional cognition of environmental replica, and resolves the balancing issue between cost and stability of test environments from a unique perspective.

Original Source

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