A production environment is the setting where the latest working version of a computer program is installed and made available to end-users. Therefore it must always be in working condition, bug-free and available when the end-user needs it.
A production environment is different from a testing environment where company developers test the codes and updates but have the luxury of going back to the drawing board if any problem is encountered. In a production environment, everything is assumed to be perfect, and there’s no chance to undo the bad press if anything goes wrong.
Read More about a “Production Environment”
Everything that goes on in a production environment is often considered final. As such, organizations must ensure that their production environments follow industry best practices.
Characteristics of a Good Production Environment
An ideal production environment satisfies the following criteria:
1. Has Redundancy Support
Each step in the production environment must be redundant to lessen risks of losing critical updates or modifications in case the server goes down. Some organizations opt for offsite redundancy for increased security.
2. Has Recovery Strategies in Place
Organizations must plan and come up with recovery strategies to protect their production environments. Any unexpected disasters, such as a power outage, can have a significant impact on ongoing processes in the production environment. Some best practices for recovery include:
- Creating backups for all systems.
- Sending copies of the backups to an offsite location or the cloud.
- Taking pictures of virtual machines (VMs) or computers that mimic dedicated hardware or software used to identify their last known working state.
- Maintaining spare hard drives and servers for emergencies.
- Using generators to counter power outages.
3. Uses Secure and Standardized Production Access
A production database must maintain its integrity. This can be done by allowing only a few people to have access to it. Limiting users can prevent accidental changes or, worse, the deletion of the whole database. Organizations should follow a standard to revoke access from employees who are no longer associated with the company as well. They should also consider using bastion hosts that allow authorized users to access their production environment.
4. Maintains Proper Documentation
Production environments must keep up-to-date and complete documentation. That way, when problems arise, their origins can be traced easily. Organizations must keep all information and details about the hardware, software, network, support, and vendors they used. That would allow them to know what to check or who to contact in case of emergency.
5. Uses a Separate Network
A production environment should never share the same network as a company’s operations. As much as possible, it should use a dedicated subnet that only allows authorized systems to connect via pre-identified ports. This practice helps in fending off security threats.
That said, a production environment must only contain relevant applications. Any unused data, programs, or services should be removed from the network. The system should remain minimalistic and straightforward to make patching and troubleshooting easier, if necessary. This setup also helps reduce the possibility of attacks.
Maintaining an excellent production environment can be a tedious process but doing so should not be overlooked as it can impact the organization in a significant way.