Octopus Deploy Documentation

Lifecycles and Environments

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Lifecycles control the order of promotion of a release through different stages, or environments, in your pipeline. You can configure a lifecycle to require deployments to development, test, and staging prior to deployments to production. They are also used to set retention policies (how long releases are saved) at a per environment level.

Lifecycles are shared across an entire space. A project references lifecycles via channels and can reference 1 to N lifecycles.

Lifecycles contain 1 to N phases, which represent a stage in your deployment lifecycle. A phase can have 0 to N environments; for example, you could have a test phase that contains both development and test environments. Or, you could have a development phase for your development environment and a test phase for your test environment.

Manually set your Phases

A lifecycle with no phases will result in Octopus calculating the phases automatically for you containing all environments. The order of the phases is dependent on the order of the environments on the environment page.

Every space has a default lifecycle without any phases. We do this to make it easy to get started with a proof of concept.

We recommend manually configuring the phases in your lifecycles, including the default lifecycle.

  • No surprises on the order of environments for your release.
  • Much more performant, Octopus doesn't have to try to calculate the phases for you.
  • Control over which phases are optional and retention policies.

Number of lifecycles

If you have the typical set of environments, development, test (or QA), staging (or Pre-prod/UAT), and production, our recommendation is to have at least two lifecycles.

  • Standard lifecycle: Development ➜ Test ➜ Staging ➜ Production
  • Emergency lifecycle: Staging ➜ Production

Two lifecycles allow you to have your standard workflow, where everything goes to development and test while having a mechanism to bypass those environments in an emergency bug fix.

We never recommend having a lifecycle with only production. Any deployment to production must deploy to at least one other environment to verify the fix. Skipping straight to production, especially during an emergency, will make a bad situation worse.

A lifecycle with a single phase is an anti-pattern. Typically we see this when users are strictly adhering to the gitflow branching strategy. If you create a new build, that build should be deployed through all environments to ensure it will work in production.

Production Approval

Octopus Deploy uses the manual intervention step for all approvals. At the time of this writing, that step runs during a deployment. That requires you to first start the deployment to production to approve the deployment in production.

We recommend two approaches to production approvals.

  1. Restrict who can deploy to production to your operations or systems admin people. See common RBAC scenarios on how to set that up.
  2. Create a prod approval environment and add it to your lifecycle. An example lifecycle with a prod approval environment is Development ➜ Test ➜ Staging ➜ Prod Approval ➜ Production.

The prod approval environment has all the manual intervention steps required for approval. After the release is "deployed" to the prod approval environment, it can then be scheduled for a production deployment. No manual intervention steps will be required in production as all approvals happened earlier.

Having a prod approval environment for all projects can be a bit tedious. We recommend creating a release orchestration project with a custom lifecycle. Only that release orchestration project will go through the prod approval environment. project and project groups

Please refer to this blog post for more information about release orchestration projects.

Automatic and optional phases

Each phase has two different deployment options:

  • Manual: a release must be manually deployed to this phase.
  • Automatic: a release is automatically deployed to the phase as soon as it is ready.

An automatic phase is similar to a database trigger; the logic is hidden unless the user knows the visual cue. If you want to use automatic phases, our recommendation is to make it a standard across all lifecycles. Or, clearly name the lifecycle to indicate it has automatic phases.

Each phase can also be required or optional.

  • Required: at least one environment must have a successful deployment before the release can proceed.
  • Optional: the release can skip this phase.

We recommend having at least one required phase before a production environment.

While possible to configure, you cannot have an optional phase with automatic deployments. Octopus will ignore the automatic setting, and you will be forced to deploy manually.

Further reading

For further reading on lifecycles and environments in Octopus Deploy please see:

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