Review Test and Production Environments Solution

After you’ve established your team development environments to support experimentation, development, and early testing, you will soon need to support formal testing and eventually production hosting of your first few proof of value workloads.

This step should take about 20 minutes to complete.


The following diagram represents the addition of test and production AWS accounts to your initial AWS environment. A set of optional networks are also depicted.

Initial Test and Production Environments in Single AWS Region

AWS account design

The design of your test and production environments intentionally starts with a pair of AWS accounts: one account to act as your test environment for your initial workload and another account to act as the production environment. After you gain experience securing, deploying, and operating your initial proof of value workloads, you’ll want to spend more time assessing the needs of future workloads, reviewing AWS best practices, and designing how you’ll expand your AWS account structure.

Single production account

This guide assumes that a single production AWS account will suffice to support your first several proof of value workloads. However, if you’re initially getting several diverse workloads into production, you may want to consider creating a separate AWS account for each workload at this time. By doing so, you can isolate these workloads from the start and not need to migrate them to their own accounts in the future.

Production-like test account

In this guide we lead you through setting up a single test account that is a companion to the production account. If you choose to set up multiple production accounts from the start, we recommend doing likewise with the companion test accounts.

We recommend that for each production AWS account, you establish at least one non-production test account in which you can safely perform production-like testing of changes to your workload. By closely mirroring your production environment, you’ll be able to detect issues earlier and before you apply changes to your production environment.

Your overall set of account baselines, guardrails, and access control should be very similar if not identical across your production and test environments. Similarly, if your workloads require networking support, then the network design should be very similar across your production and test environments.

Your test accounts can be used to host multiple instances of your workload. i.e. multiple workload environments. The types of testing that you need to perform will help you understand how many workloads environments you might create in your test account. For example, you might use different workload environments for functional and performance testing of your workload in a single test AWS account.

Security, operations, and compliance guardrails

Moving workloads into a production phase often requires increased levels of governance and oversight. There are many mechanisms and tools in AWS that can be used to build a strong governance function while still allowing flexibility and autonomy to the builder teams.

Guardrails are governance rules for security, operations, and compliance that customers can select and apply enterprise-wide or to specific groups of accounts. You might start with a basic set of guardrails and expand them as you gain experience and your needs evolve.

See Environment Guardrails for an introduction to the use of guardrails that you can apply to your AWS environments.

Access control

Your operating model delivery approach

Even in this early stage of using AWS, it’s important for you to consider the roles and responsibilities of people and teams who will be managing and operating your production workloads. In other words, what is the operating model that applies to your first few proof of value workloads?

For example, will the team that owns the workload also deploy and manage the workload in production? Or will that team depend on an operations to team for deployment and operation of the workload in production?

The former model can be considered a “you build it, you run it” or a “DevOps” style model. The latter model may be considered more of a centralized operations model.

Independent of the model that you choose to apply to your first few proof of value workloads, we recommend that you define a functional role to deploy and operate the workloads that are distinct from the roles used to manage your cloud foundation.

Cloud Operating Model: See Building a Cloud Operating Model and specifically section “6. Own your own lifecycle” for more information on considering how your organization can operate more efficiently with the cloud.

Apply foundation functional roles

Similar to how you applied the foundational functional roles of Cloud Administration and Security Administration to your other accounts, you will also enable these roles to access your test and production accounts. By doing so, you’ll enable your foundation team with the necessary access to manage the foundational resources in the test and production accounts.

Introduce functional role for workload administration

As a best practice, we recommend that you define a distinct role for the purpose of administering and operating the workloads that reside in your test and production environments. In this guide, we show you how to define and provision a “Workload Administrator” role that can be used by the team that manages the initial workload. By using a distinct role to administer and operate your workloads, you’re able to separate those duties from other teams who may have responsibility for managing the underlying foundation of your environment.

As a start, you’ll provide wide ranging access permissions to the Workload Administrator role, but it will be constrained from modifying foundational resources. Over time, you can modify the permissions align more with least privilege best practice and potentially create different workload administrator roles in support of different workloads.

Over time, if you apply automation to deploying and managing workloads, then you’ll have less dependence on using workload administrator roles in your production environment. At that stage, you may need only a workload operator type of roles that have far less write access to your environment.


If your initial proof of value workloads don’t depend on networking, you can skip this section. For example, if your initial workload uses Amazon CloudFront for content delivery network (CDN) and Amazon S3 for static web site storage, then you may not need networking in your test and production accounts. Similarly, use of many of the serverless services such as AWS Lambda and Amazon DynamoDB don’t require the use of VPCs.

Test and production mirror each other

We recommend that your test and production network design mirror each other so that your teams can test changes to their workloads in a production-like test environment. Doing so will help your teams discover and address issues before you deploy changes to the production environments.

Dedicated VPC per account

In support of your first few test and production AWS environments, we recommend that you start with a dedicated VPC for each environment. Use of dedicated VPCs helps enable further isolation between your test and production environments.

Additionally, as you expand your use of AWS and potentially create more test and production environments for different workloads, use of a dedicated VPC per test and production environment will help you further isolate different workloads from each other.

Why not use shared subnets for test and production? In support of team development environments, use of shared subnets across different team development environments may meet your requirements given that you might not have as strict of isolation requirements between team development environments. In this case, shared subnets can make it easier for you to centrally manage the VPC resources supporting the team development environments.

Learn more about sharing VPC resources If you’d like to consider using shared subnets for your initial test and production environments see NET320-R1 - The right AWS network architecture for the right reason for more background on the benefits and practical considerations of sharing VPC resources. Also see Using VPC Sharing for a Cost-Effective Multi-Account Microservice Architecture for an example use case.

Secure internet integration

If your initial workload requires access either to or from the internet, then we recommend that you review these options with your security and network teams so that you decide on the best approach in support of your initial workloads.

Approach Description Advantages Disadvantages
Direct internet access from VPCs Deploy a set of public subnets and associated internet and potentially NAT gateways in each VPC. Ensure use of direct internet access is performed in a secure manner. Easy setup

No dependencies on other teams

No on-premises dependencies
Might not meet your internet security requirements

Responsibility on team managing the workloads to help secure internet access,
Temporarily route internet traffic to on-premises Use only private subnets in each VPC. Route all internet traffic over private connection to on-premises and reuse your existing enterprise internet security services. Relatively straightforward to configure if you already plan on setting up private connectivity with your on-premises environment. Stopgap solution

Increased latency.

Potentially insufficient bandwidth

Cost depending on the amount of data transferred out of AWS to your on-premises environment

Dependencies on other teams
Establish centrally managed internet egress/ingress security capabilities in AWS Use only private subnets in each VPC. Route all internet traffic through a new centralized internet security services in your AWS environment.

For example, Securing VPC Egress Using IDS/IPS Leveraging Transit Gateway and How to Integrate Third-Party Firewall Appliances into an AWS Environment.

Scales for broader adoption of AWS
Significant undertaking

Dependencies on other teams

On-premises network integration

Your test and production workloads might require connectivity to on-premises resources and services over a private connection. If you have not already established this connectivity, see Hybrid Networking for an overview of your options and detailed step-by-step instructions for setting up a site-to-site VPN connection.