Real Staging-Environment for Cloudways?


#1

####We are looking for a real staging-environment solution for agencies with Cloudways-Apps/Server.

There is some *KB about this topic but at the end, it only covers

  • sync with local to cloudways-remote server App named staging
  • clone staging to live
  • define domain-name, SSL-Cert, …
  • then point with Nameserver to live-site > your site is tested and online/published
  • use GIT for sync code/files to different Apps (dev/test/live)

Thats it. But this is not a staging-environment like promised!

*Knowledge Base:


Error/deleted messages in community.cloudways.com plattform?
«Staging Environment» our approach and what is your approach for?
Let's Encrypt SSL Certification possible server wide?
#2

####Our understanding of a usable, secure and working staging solution:

###We would be very happy if other agencies could share their solution: How to create a real staging area with Cloudways tools?

Or any Idea for? Please share if you found a solution for real and repetitive staging-process/environment with Cloudways-Server!


#3

###How do other agencies do this?

  • customer changes in the CMS (in staging-area -> db-entries)
  • Images uploaded by customers (in staging-area -> file/folder change)

Of course:

  • the live-system already exist
  • the live-system is already online/public
  • the live-system has set his Primary-Domain already
  • the live-system is already equipped with SSL certificates

###Then sync all of this with live-system!
That’s a usable staging-environment. All other stuff is only Clone!


##Questions:
###How do you prevent to deliver visitors of live-website ugly SSL-Cert-errors?
###And even more importantly: How do you manage this without going offline with live-site?


#4

Hi @martin

Thanks for such a detailed feedback. I will have to say that pushing changes from dev to live via Cloudways takes some manual work, but creating clones and staging sites of the live sites is very easy using the Clone feature.

What our clients have been doing is…

Process 1
1- Create clone of the live site (on same or a smaller server)
2- Make the changes in the dev site.
3- Once done - manually migrate the site to the live site

Process 2
1- Create a clone on same server of the live site
2- Make the changes in the dev site
3- Once done - point the domain to the dev site and move the SSL certificate.

For Agencies, our “Transfer server” feature is also popular if agencies want to move complete ownership of the website and the server to their client.

Your suggestions have been noted and it will be cool if you can drop your feedback over here as well: http://feedback.cloudways.com/

  • Ahsan

#5

Hey Ahsan,
thank you for your help.
Will do also a feedback if I understand your advice.

Honestly there is a lack in my understanding:
###How you can do «step 3» of «Process 1» and «Process 2» without destroying the real sense of staging?

1. visitor of live-site Is not supplied with unexpected or error content? (SSL-Cert-Error-throwing)
2. visitor of live-site can NOT recognize online interruptions in live-site? (while manually migrate/move the SSL certificate)

I still can’t see the way. Sorry
Please could you explain to me?
###How can I prevent interruptions from live-site (go offline) and error messages from SSL-cert while I do step 3 for both of your Processes?
I just can’t do it without. At least not if I think it through!
I would love to understand and use it that way.

Could you explain to me, so I can understand the magic or can figure out which step I have misunderstood and how I can do it the right way?

  • Martin

#6

I completely agree with Martin on this. The Cloudways approach is better than nothing, but it feels like a workaround, not like a real solution. Especially when SSL certificates are involved, and you’re dealing with a wordpress site and all the urls are absolute.

A real staging tool, that creates a staging copy (not just a clone), and that allows you to select what files and what database entries are synced, would add tremendous value. And it would keep Cloudways competitive with the hosts that offer this kind of service.


#7

Thanks Paul,
I still hope I misunderstood something fundamentally and Ahan’s step 3 is possible without interruption and/or error message.

If not, it would be a help or at least a «kind of staging» for «real-world projects»/«already-published-sites» and for them, staging-environment is build for (what kind of website does not use SSL in present days):

  • if two apps could somehow have, or could point to the same primary domain and SSL certificates.
  • There would be the possibility to switch back and forth without live-site visitor noticing an interruption and set the App related to the real domain www.website.com.

*Best would be the advertised solution with «all test environment(s) are hosted on our preconfigured sub-domains
And some switch-possibility between would made available.

All the rest would be covered quite well with the cloning workaround. For sure a more far-reaching staging would be nice or at least a real staging-environment. And I guess too, your are right with: «would add tremendous value»

But even for an absolutely minimal staging-environment, interruptions in live-page or error-messages for already published live-pages are simply impossible.


#*


#*
I don’t know where advertising department has invented these buzzwords and ingenious solutions. Three different chat operators didn’t know about this at all, or unfortunately had to say after squeeze everything out of them:

“that simply doesn’t exist in Cloudways-System”.

###But the Advertising on website remains and is seductive, even it’s only because of an ingenious marketing concept from an overeager PR-Specialist.


But again: I hope I misunderstood something fundamentally and Ahan’s step 3 is possible without interruption and/or error message.

Will wait for the way I have to do.
And I’m really Interested in how others do it!

Please share experiences and solutions.


#8

Hi All,

This issue if solved would really add value to the Cloudways offer. But not in its current form offered. The advertising is misleading.

A staging server in essence should be available to make changes on - to fix bugs and develop new functionality without any impact on the live server. Once you are happy, these code changes can then be moved or sync’d with the live server. (Process 1)

Currently, the clone method is long-winded and incurs extra cost which a lot of other hosting companies do not charge for. Since, the staging server is not a ‘live’ server but a testbed server.

Currently, I clone my live server to act as my staging server using a lower priced cloud provider to save $$$. I use (PC) host files and switch them depending on which server I am going to use - live or test. This saves having to have a different URL for the site.

But with it comes the issue of SSL, since my site is https. The SSL certifcate for the test/staging server keeps on running out which means I have to keep requesting this to be fixed via Cloudways support.

So, a true staging solution would be very helpful especially if it is part of a package and not charged or the pricing is discounted where it is verified as a staging server.


#9

I definitely agree that we need real staging solution build into cloudways. Would make life a lot easier and development a lot faster as well.

But until then, some of you might find migrate-db-pro and/or mergebot plugin by deliciousbrains helpful.

Haven’t used it myself, since i mostly do smaller sites where it isn’t a big issue if a site goes down for a couple minutes. But i have heard great things about the both. I’m in no way affiliated to them. & they are quite expensive but i just thought it might help some of you.


#10

A solid staging environment needs the ability to push-pull certain aspects of the site. If you are working on an e-commerce site, you can’t make a staging copy and then go live several days (or even hours) later with the copy because you’ll loose all of your orders that have happened in that time. So you need to be able to push just certain tables and certain folders over.

This plugin does it for the database:

BackupBuddy has this functionality but I have trouble getting it to work. Too many errors.


#11

The plugin solution looks pretty good as a workaround, but is pretty expensive.

I’d like to urge Cloudways to make it a priority to develop a world-class staging solution.
But I’d settle for an adequate one!


#12

I couldn’t agree more, this is becoming increasingly frustrating trying to manage a staging environment on cloudways. If anyone from the dev team is listening, please make this a priority.


#13

Hey @support3,
thank you for share your solution.
Your recommended plugin could be a workaround for the still promised but until now not redeemed possibilities of Cloudways, If the world would consist of Wordpress only :thinking:.

Nonetheless our agency is certainly (or at least I hope so) not the only one at Cloudways, whose world is not only made up of Wordpress.:upside_down_face:

Obviously you are right, no matter which CMS is used: some applications require a fine adjustment of what tables and folders should be synced. So, of course, it would be more than welcome to get a fine-tuned staging tool.

But in the current situation we would be happy to use a rudimentary real staging tool (at least).
A staging tool that supports basic “real staging”-features and does a little justice to the name.
Not the cloning feature, which is simply beautified with a new name and advertised twice.

Anything additional would be most welcome!


#14

Hi Martin,

Here is the message re-pasted again :slight_smile:

Both sites are on Cloudways - test and live.

The test has a different IP and is not ‘live’. So, no DNS resolves to the IP.

What you use is host switcher for Windows (PC):

Hosts Switcher

This small tray icon utility takes care about your host files, so developer can easily switch between QA, production and local environment.

Hosts Switcher
This small tray icon utility takes care about your host files, so developer can easily switch between QA, production and local environment.

This little program allows you to switch host files. So, you create two host files. one file points at your live IP and the other at your test:

For example,

filename: TestHost
test IP

123.567.89.56. https://yoursite.co.uk

filename: hosts (default)
live IP

167.89.67.89.8 https://yoursite.co.uk

You then simply switch host files using this tool. Use incognito mode in chrome to access the site, making sure the correct IP is resolved on your test site. Also to view changes you make. Make sure no caching is used on your test server too.

The problem, I have is the SSL certificate on the test server. It needs to be added by Cloudways support because, you cannot add an SSL to the test server - so I have been told by support.

The test server is the lowest cost server I can use on Cloudways.

Hope that helps


#15

Hi @admin8,
thank you for re-post.
I don’t know why our two messages were deleted.
Hope maybe your shared approach with Hosts Switcher can help others :+1:!

  • cheers Martin

#16

I’ve been waiting for a real staging environment as well. So far I’ve spent the last year developing the site so this has not been a problem yet. Cloning and switching live e-commerce sites is not a workflow that works. Period. I’ve still got a couple of months left until we go live. If this solution remains at that time, we’re moving away from Cloundway. As much as I don’t really want to, I see no other viable solution at this stage.


#17

Has there been any progress on this? Is Cloudways making it a priority?
I’m developing a site for someone else and wanted to use cloudways, but the lack of staging features made it impractical. We were forced to use a different host.


#18

Hi @paul.raphaelson

Can you drop your feedback over here about what you are looking for? http://feedback.cloudways.com/forums/203824-service-improvement/suggestions/6405428-wordpress-or-other-apps-staging-live-and-test-s

What is the process the other host is using for the staging environment?

Thanks


#19

Sure. Here are some examples:

WP Engine Staging environment: https://wpengine.com/support/staging/
A blog post on this feature: https://carriedils.com/wp-engine-staging-sites/
Kinsta staging environment: https://kinsta.com/knowledgebase/staging-environment/
SiteGround staging environment: https://www.siteground.com/tutorials/staging/
A 3rd Party (expensive) solution called StageCoach: https://wpstagecoach.com

What all these solutions seem to have in common is that they sync in both directions. They don’t just provide a clone of your live site, but they allow you to selectively sync your changes back to the live site after testing, often with a merge feature that keeps you from overwriting new database entries. The better ones include tools that specifically prevent problems with SSL conflicts, caching, etc.

None of them requires you to replace your production site and point your DNS to the new site, or perform other clunky workarounds.


#20

Hi, I am quite frustrated at the lack of a true staging solution as well. Are there any progress on this front?

Thanks.