Managed Cloud is a great tool for hassle-free management of your Drupal sites and works great out of the box. What I realized in the last weeks is that it has a lot of features that we don’t typically advertise to users but are hugely valuable for them. Development environments are one of those.
The standard of Drupal development stipulates that you need three environments for your users:
- Development - for making the actual changes and integrating them
- Staging (sometimes called Testing) - to test all changes before going live
- Production (sometimes called Live) - where the actual site runs for public
Multiple environments for the different phases of development is considered best practice not only in Drupal development, but in software development in general. The advantage is that you can isolate the new development that is always going on from testing upcoming releases and from the actual live site itself. This compartmentalization is critical if you want to have a smoothly operating site with problem-free upgrades. Since the environments need to be as similar as possible, if not identical, it can be a very expensive proposition. Managed Cloud provides these environments for you, out of the box, with an extra twist.
But what if you need more than just the Dev/Stage/Prod combo? That happens very often with several scenarios:
- Need more testing: You need a dedicated environment for testing integration into a separate system.
- Need environment per developer: My favourite scenario; your developers want to work on the server instead of locally and you need an environment per each (while my favourite it is also a scenario that can become quite complicated very easily)
- Load testing: It is possible to create a copy of your whole Managed Cloud for a single load test but some customers run load tests every week and need a Load test environment that has a copy of their production hardware
If you have a complex system you might need more environments so you don’t have to maintain local systems and you will ease the maintenance of complicated branching workflows.
Managed Cloud allows customers to have any number of non-production environments running any combination of hardware. I recently helped a customer set up their subscription with following environments:
- Dev running on a dedicated m1.large HW instance
- UAT running on a dedicated m1.large HW instance
- SIT and Stage sharing one dedicated instance
- Prod environment running on dedicated custom cluster
If you need more environments on your cluster, just open a ticket with our Support team and they can help you set them up. If you are not using our Cloud yet, check out Acquia Managed Cloud pages and let us know and we can give you a demo.
Note: Multiple environments are unfortunately not available for Acquia Cloud Free but don't be sad, you can still use 90 % of the normal features. Try it now.