Two weeks ago I had a great opportunity to spend a few days working with Moshe Weitzman (moshe weitzman), Justin Randell (beejeebus), Alex Bronstein (effulgentsia), and Stéphane Corlosquet (scor) to look at the challenges and best practices for using the new Drupal 8 configuration system (a.k.a. CMI) to move changes between a local development environment and one or more server environments. We developed ideas, considered new modules for Drupal 8, and tried to figure out if there were any changes to Drupal 8 core that would be needed to make the system better for developers.
One outcome of this was two new modules Configuration log and Configuration Read-only mode. These were written to help demonstrate the capabilities of the new configuration system and enabled us to implement key elements of possible new configuration staging and management workflows. An additional outcome was a number of enhancements by Moshe to the latest version of Drush to facilitate the import and export of configuration.
The screencast video below walks through the process of moving configuration from a local development version of a site, up to a development environment on a server and then to a "live" environment using Acquia Cloud Free. The "live" environment was detected in settings.php and that logic triggered the Configuration Read-only mode module to prevent any configuration changes in the administrative forms. We also used a Cloud Hook to automatically import new configuration when a new git tag was deployed to the "live" environment.
Whether you are just moving to Drupal or upgrading to a new version of Drupal, if you are starting with an existing website, you are facing the same problem: Your migration timeline.
Drupal.org provides a number of pre-packaged distributions (e.g., Drupal Commons, DKAN, etc.) that allow users get a fully-featured Drupal installation up and running in no time, but maintaining an installed distribution can be tricky. You may need to juggle distribution updates with contrib module updates, core updates, and your own customizations. If you aren't careful, it can be come a maintenance nightmare!