As business managers, many critical decisions hinge on the support that technology affords. For example, the business imperative to offer new features and choice to customers must be balanced with the risk of ensuring good customer experience during the upgrade or migration process.
Increasingly, technology practices are evolving to help achieve business goals. This includes increased ability to deliver continuous improvements in the form of new features and functionalities; reduction in downtime while making new releases; and in the event of an error, ability to quickly roll back and erase mistakes.
Developers are increasingly using the technique of Blue-green environment to achieve new advantages. As business managers it is worthwhile to understand what the approach means and how it is making life easier for organizations.
What is Blue-Green Environment
Typically while making an upgrade or introducing new features, developers work on the new environment and once it is ready, release it into live production switching off the old environment. In traditional environment this switch-over is final and there is no looking back. In the advent of an error or malfunctioning, roll back is a painful and tedious process causing a lot of heartburn for business managers.
However the Cloud affords new luxuries where there can be two simultaneous environments—one in development and testing and the other in production. The production environment is current and called blue while the test environment is called green. Once the upgrade and new features are ready, traffic is switched to the green environment. The blue environment is still available and can be switched back within minutes in case a roll back is required.
So what are the business advantages of blue-green environment
First, it allows businesses to switch between old and new environments. However meticulous the efforts may have been, often after release bugs and mistakes occur. Blue-green environment empowers businesses with the flexibility to test the feature or application in live environment, asses customer feedback, tweak and release again to make a better application.
Imagine there is a B2C marketing campaign and the promotion entails providing free coupons based on certain amount of purchase. If there is inaccurate mapping between coupon and customer spend there will be chaos and campaign will have to be suspended till error is corrected. The blue-green environment minimizes the chaos allowing business to correct the mapping without disturbing the ongoing campaign.
Second, blue-green environment allows the campaign to become sharper and make more accurate pitches. It will allow the ongoing campaign to map customer behaviour in real-time and business managers can modify the campaign, targeting a specific customer segment or promoting a specific product category.
Each business decision must be accompanied by changes in software coding to make the campaign effective. Such continuous improvement and continuous development activities is possible in blue-green environment—a huge leap in the way things were done in the past.
Umbrella Infocare often leverages this technique as a best practice to deliver many advantages to customers. For example, we used this technique to test volume of incoming traffic before making final release of new features for an ecommerce website.
Amazon Web Services offers several services—such as Cloud formation, BeanStalk, Code Deploy, Code Pipeline and CodeCommit—which enable easy deployment of blue-green environment to achieve efficiencies of scale.