HomeDevelopmentThe challenges of creating & managing developer environments at scale 

The challenges of creating & managing developer environments at scale 

The goal of every development team is to code and ship features faster. And to do so, having a safe development environment to test without being necessarily worried is imperative. Development environments serve as a safe place for developers to test anything without being worried about its impacting end users or breaking something in production. Only when the developers are able to work in a conducive setup will they be able to create outcomes that satisfy the customer. 

Different IDE offers different benefits. While a local development environment allows users to see the changes they make automatically reflected as things are available locally, this is not the case with a remote environment. In a remote development environment, when a code change happens locally, the developer must containerize that application and push it to a registry such as Docker Hub, Red Hat, or any other private registry in use before deploying it into the remote Kubernetes cluster. This makes it a lot easier to do more realistic testing, as the services that need to be tested are already available in this remote development environment. 

Best of both worlds with Kubernetes 

This is where Kubernetes comes into play. With the Kubernetes cluster, the developer can test against more realistic resources, such as other services that are part of the cloud-native application or the database itself. There are different integrated development environments (IDE) available in Kubernetes. In this remote cloud-based environment, all developers are able to collaborate and work simultaneously without any worry about workload or lag. One of the key things about the Kubernetes development environment is that if something works for one developer, it will work for others as well as everyone is sharing the same development environment. Kubernetes developer environment is different from monolithic architecture and makes it easy to deal with as it offers better consistency. 

Kubernetes allows developers to enjoy the best of both worlds without having to repeat the build process cycle every time a change is needed. This saves time and ensures better utilization of resources. For instance, developers can use local debuggers, which are available in the local development environment, while also enjoying the benefit of realistic testing that is available in a remote-based environment. Simply put, developers now have a development environment that creates the visibility to witness the impact of code changes in real time and make changes based on end-user response. 

With Kubernetes, container management also becomes easier, and every development team can build and ship features faster to ensure that the experience of the users of your product is actually good. Containerization helps developers to test an application or see how an application works without necessarily having all of the resources to run on the computer. 

Communication between the developer environment and the Ops team

Different things work for different companies. Choosing the right developer environment shows what kind of experience a business is trying to create for developers and can have a direct impact on their productivity. A great developer experience is directly related to the application’s success. If developers don’t have a good experience, then it is a lot more challenging for them to make the users happy. In a local environment, there is constant communication between the operations team and the developers. This means every time there is a change, certain permissions to access, deploy, or test is mandatory. While this is important to maintain security, control, and stability, it also creates laybacks and time delays in the overall development process. On the other hand, Kubernetes eases this process by offering Teleport, which gives secure access to Kubernetes clusters. Every time any developer makes a change, there is a track rail that records the action. The operations team can also access these from audit logs through pre-defined integrations.  

Factors that affect the developer environment

While deciding on the developer environment, it is important to consider the kind of experience the company is trying to create for the developers. Various factors influence which environment best suits developers. Two of them are listed below. 

  • The size of the company has a role to play in deciding which developer environment works best. Smaller companies that are just starting out or those bootstrapped for money tend to lean towards the local development environments. This is because they are trying to manage resources instead of spending on running on Kubernetes. On the other hand, it is almost impossible for larger teams to run all that locally or bring everyone into a single environment. As a result, these developers lean more toward utilizing remote development environments or a combination of them.  
  • Conditions of the application play an important role too. For instance, if the collaborative application has received 500 microservices, it becomes almost impossible to run it locally as the device used will become unstable. 

Telepresence for Kubernetes 

Telepresence is an open-source tool that enables developers to set up remote development environments for Kubernetes. Telepresence can be used to access integrated development environments, debuggers, and even profilers. Telepresence does not require a build process cycle. Instead, the developer can connect the local development environment to the remote Kubernetes cluster from anywhere and start editing. With this tool, developers can instantly make changes to their local and remote Kubernetes environment from anywhere.

This blog is based on my interview with Edidiong Asikpo, Senior Developer Advocate at Ambassador Labs. You can watch the entire interview here: 

If you have questions related to this topic, feel free to book a meeting with one of our solutions experts, mail to sales@amazic.com.


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