Nexcess: Managing Dev & Staging Environments

    A staging environment (also known as a staging site) is a copy of your production website and is the last step in the deployment process before changes are deployed to your live website, whereas a development environment is where the website is built initially


    Nexcess: Managing Dev & Staging Environments


    Development and staging environments serve as unique tiers of test environments for admins to verify that a site is working as expected before it goes live.


    Managing Your Development & Staging Environments with Nexcess 

    In Web Development, What are the Differences Between Development & Staging Environments?


    The staging environment is where you deploy your software code for the team to review before it goes to the production environment. The development environment is where you work on your new and revised software code, which is constantly being built, refined, and debugged.

    In Web Development, Why Do Your Need a Staging Environment?


    The main purpose of a staging environment is to ensure that all new changes deployed from previous environments are working as intended before they are released to the live production website. By reviewing the staging environment and everything working in concert on it before deploying your software code to a public website, you will be able to identify and resolve issues found, so they never impact the end user.

    Managing Dev & Staging Environment Details at Nexcess

    First, let us discuss what the staging environment is and its significance in website development and management. A staging environment or staging site is a copy of your production website and is the last step in the deployment process before changes are deployed to your live production website that is visible to the general public.

    The main aim of this staging environment is to catch and fix any mistakes or bugs before the changes are published. Thus, changes can be released to your live website without introducing errors. 

    Testing new changes on a staging environment before deploying them to your live website also reduces the risk of any errors or issues that will affect your users. This cautious plan for ensuring a bug-free production environment effectively means happier users and more uptime for your website.

    The development environment and the staging environment are different from each other in their purpose and use in the majority of web development implementations. However, here in the Managed Applications division of Nexcess we treat both in the same way — as test environments for admins to create and verify the working of site before it is published to the live production environment.

    Advantages of making use of staging environment with site development is that you can use it when you want to:

    • Switch themes

    • Add or remove plugins

    • Change code 

    • Test major software updates 

    • Reorganize your website 

    • Upgrade functionality

    After confirming the result in the staging environment, you can deploy the same software code to the live site.


    Nexcess offers different content-related Managed Applications for the web. They are:
     

    For these different Managed Applications, we provide a staging/development environment along with the live one. But the availability of staging environment or development environment depends upon the Managed Applications package you purchased.


    For some packages, we provide a free staging environment and for other packages, we provide a development environment (that comes with an extra cost as per the Nexcess Dev Sites Pricing Model). This article will explain those features and how you can set them up with your live environment.

    Nexcess Staging Environments

    Nexcess offers one free staging environment for each live site under Managed WordPress and Managed WooCommerce plans onlyThere is another option for users to create a development environment under the live site for these two packages. But that feature comes with an additional cost.

    While for other Managed Applications packages like Managed Magento and Drupal, we provide only a development environment option, and that comes with an extra cost (see the Nexcess Dev Sites Pricing Model).

    However, with Flexible Cloud Plans, there is no option to create staging/development environments. Because under a Flexible Cloud Plan you can install any custom site, it is not possible to spin up a staging/development environment for it. 

    In this article, we will guide you on how to set up a staging environment if you are using of Managed WordPress or Managed WooCommerce. First, log into your Nexcess Client Portal  and select the Plans option:


    Plans on the Left Menu




    Then locate your required plan containing the site under which you wish to create the staging environment. To the right of the site name you can find an option called Environments. Click that option:


    Environments Option



    Upon clicking on the Environments option, the user interface will list two subsequent dropdown options for Development Environments and Staging Environments. To the right of the Staging Environments option, you can find a Plus (+) button. Click on it.


    Staging Environments Option



    Upon clicking Plus (+), the user interface will display the screen shown below. Make sure you check the checkboxes for “Copy my data to the staging environment” and “Do not anonymize data” as shown in the following screenshot:


    Add Staging Environment


    And after that, click the Create option. The staging site is created, which is a clone of your live production site. Then, once again, click the Environments (1) option to find your created staging site:


    Environments (1) Option


    By clicking on the domain name, you will be taken to its management screen Once there, click on the Access option to find the corresponding SSH/FTP login details.


    Using the SSH/FTP details for the staging environment, you can manage the staging site. We have a Nexcess Knowledge Base article which offer best practices on how you can push the changes made in your staging environment to the product environment by leveraging the WPMerge plugin:

    How to Use WPMerge to Push Staging Production

    Using the WPMerge plugin will allow you to push a connected staging site's code only to the production site, but it will not replace data that you need to remain on the production site. For example, you might run WooCommerce on your site, and when you move from staging to production, you do not want to replace customers and orders — and other important data.

    Nexcess Development Environments

    Above we discussed how to set up a staging environment, and here will see how we can set up a development environment. In this case, we are taking an example of a site that is created under a Managed Magento Plan. However, the steps are the same for all other plans, including Craft CMSDrupal, etc.

    But as mentioned earlier, Nexcess does not offer development or staging environment feature for sites managed under Flexible Cloud Plans. To create a development environment, following these steps.

    Log in to your Nexcess Client Portal, select the Plans option, and locate your required plan containing the site under which you wish to create the development environment.


    To the right of the site name, you can find the Environments option. Click on that option:



    Environments Option



    The user interface will display the “Development Environments option. To the right of that Development Environments option, you can find a Plus (+) button. Click on it.:


    Development Environments Option



    Upon clicking the Plus (+) button, the user interface will display the screen below. Select the preferred Development Environment Package and make sure you check the checkboxes for “Copy my data to the Development environment” and “Do not anonymize data” as shown in the following image:



    Add Development Environment



    Then, click the Create option to complete the process. The development site will be created after a few minutes. You can find its details via the Environments(1) option of the live site. Click on it, and then click the View option:


    View Development Environments


    Then, within the left menu you can see the Access option. Click Access to obtain your development site SSH/FTP login credentials. When those in your possession, you are free to manage the site accordingly!


    Access on the Left Menu


    About the Nexcess Portal

    Starting with a new hosting partner can be overwhelming. For that exact reason, we have prepared a Nexcess Portal Guide to make each client’s introduction to our Nexcess Portal easier.

    How to Become a Nexcess Portal Pro 

    You signed up for an account with Nexcess but now what do you do? New systems can be intimidating to learn, so we’ve put together this guide to help explain what is in the portal and where to find it.


    About Nexcess Web Hosting Solutions


    A Suite of Solutions Where Better is Built In


    Nexcess Hosting is a world-class web hosting platform with integrated managed services built right in! Even though there are services like Flexible Cloud Hosting and Enterprise Hosting, the flagship offerings are Managed WordPress Hosting, Managed Magento Hosting, and Managed WooCommerce Hosting


    Nexcess is considered as 1 of the Top 5 Best Web Hosting Providers Perfectly Tailored for Your WebsiteAt Nexcess, we have our own portal and panels to manage your premium hosting and features, making it simple for you to control the hosting platform from your end. Like any robust web hosting admin panel, we have a host of advanced features suitable for sophisticated ecommerce scenarios. The Nexcess Client Portal is accessible for the registered clients of and well documented in the Nexcess Portal Guide.


    Managed WordPress Hosting and Managed WooCommerce Hosting puts superior WordPress and WooCommerce site management capabilities at your fingertips They both provide you with tools and resources to keep your sites running at optimal levels. 


    WordPress is a user-friendly application that used by the majority of web hosting providers. The core tasks of the website are primarily managed over the WordPress Admin Dashboard (aslo known as the wp-admin pageby the client's admin user. With regard to access to the wp-admin page, the credentials are used for logging in are the admin user's username and password. It is always best to use a hyper-secure strong password for the admin user's account.

    24-Hour Assistance

    In case you forgot the password or want to reset the password in traditional fashion, the Nexcess Support team is always available to assist you. If you need any assistance with the above-mentioned, don't hesitate to reach out. For 24-hour assistance any day of the year, Nexcess customers can contact our support team by email or through your Client Portal.

    Web Hosting Admin Panel

    Here at Nexcess, we provide admins a feature-rich Client Portal and Nexcess Web Hosting Admin Panel to manage your comprehensive set of web hosting features. Our goal is to make it simple for you to control the hosting for optimal outcomes. Like any web hosting admin panel, we have a dynamic set of custom features suitable for the corresponding web hosting plans. The Nexcess Client Portal is accessible for the registered clients of Nexcess and well documented in the Nexcess Portal Guide. 

    The core functionality of the portal allows management of all the details associated with your hosting plan:

    Furthermoreyour hosting plan type is shown:

    • Cloud Hosting
    • Shared Hosting
    • Dedicated Hosting

    Lastly, your hosting plan support options are available:


    Appearance

    The basic appearance of the portal options would be as below, with core functionality and options available such as Billing and other essential sections. In the case of Managed WordPress Hosting, Managed WooCommerce Hosting, and Managed Magento Hosting plans, you may find the corresponding details under the Plans (#) option as shown in the following image:

    Plan(1) option

    You may click on the Show More option to find the advanced options such as DNS and SSL. As you proceed further with the Plans option, you will be shown a list of the active managed plans that you have with Nexcess. Once you select a plan to review, you will see the list of domains that you have hosted on the plan. You may select any of the domains and access the domain-based Nexcess Web Hosting Admin Panel.

    For all the managed hosting plans available from Nexcess, the listed options will be similar, but not identical, and there may be some additional features on a per-plan basis. The advanced options of the managed plan are shown by clicking the Show More option.

    Will you see some additional menu options such as Scheduled Tasks, MySQL, and Containers, for example, which are shown as a part of the advanced setup configuration set of options. Basically, for any managed hosting plan, you may click Show More to access the additional features within the Nexcess Web Hosting Admin Panel that will help you manage your site and plan details.


    The following sections describe some of the most common additional features of the Nexcess Web Hosting Admin Panel for the flagship Managed WordPress HostingManaged Magento Hosting, and Managed WooCommerce Hosting plans.

    Performance


    Clicking on this option will show performance-related details, including the basic information like disk usage, bandwidth, PHP-FPM traffic/process, the information needed for configuring CDNthe domain, the cache settings (including purging the cache), Cloud Auto Scalingand more. 

    Access


    Clicking on this option will show access-related details, including the SSH (Secure Shell Protocol) and FTP (File Transfer Protocol) access detailsPlease note that there is only one SSH access account allowed per plan that is effective for all the sites hosted on the plan. Therefore, no additional SSH users can be created for the plan after the first. As for FTP, access you may create a new FTP user and may limit the access to any particular directory.


    Nexcess provides the feature to enable password protection for your site. You may enable or disable the password protection using the Password Protection option.

    Domain


    Clicking on this option will show domain-related details. You may change the master domain name and also create/add other domains using the CNAME or alias or pointer domain features.


    By default, a temporary name will be provided for all sites hosted with Nexcess. The first step would be to modify the master domain in the Client Portal > Nexcess Web Hosting Admin Panel to use your custom domain. To take your application (MagentoWordPress or WooCommerce) live, you may change the master domain by populating it with your planned domain. 


    Please be aware that once the master domain has been applied in place of the starting Nexcess temporary domain name, it is not possible to revert back to use of the temporary domain name originally supplied by Nexcess.


    Environments


    Clicking on this option will show environment-related details. You may find the information about the PHP version in use, the details needed for Redis configuration, and other important environment-related details.


    For WooCommerce and WordPress, you may find the application admin panel access details in this area. The application admin username will be shown in an ongoing fashion, but the password for application admin user (such as the WordPress Admin User) would only be shown for a limited time period of access. You may find the details related to the plugin and core updates in this section.


    For Magento, the basic PHP version shown would be applicable for all the domains hosted under the plan. Basically, all hosted domains would be running on a single PHP version. If you change the PHP version, the change would be applicable to all the domains on the plan.

    Further Reading for Performance Tuning WordPress

    In addition to the increase in site performance by regular WordPress maintenance of WordPress transients, you can see an increase in site performance by:



    You can find answers to your other WordPress questions in our Nexcess Knowledge Base.


    Consider Hosting with Nexcess


    Hosting optimized for the industry's leading platforms, including Managed WordPress Hosting, Managed WooCommerce Hosting, and Managed Magento Hosting:

    Build Better Sites and Stores With Fully Managed Hosting from Nexcess 

    Faster Speeds, Stronger Security, Inherent Scalability and Trusted Support.

    Our range of hosting plans caters to any business scale. We do all the heavy lifting for you to focus on growing your business. In addition, we automatically update ore components and plugins to the latest version and ensure your hosting environment is properly optimized, secured, and updated.


    Nexcess infrastructure was specially designed to keep up the best speed and performance in the industry. No traffic surge can threaten your website to go down thanks to our autoscaling technology which adds more resources to your server to handle the load. In addition, we offer always-on security monitoring and support from web hosting experts 24/7/365 and a built-in CDN with 22 locations and advanced caching for ultra-fast loading.


    All hosting plans include The Nexcess 30-Day Web Hosting Money Back Guarantee.


    Need a No-Code Website Building Solution? 


    Are you on an accelerated schedule and already ready to move forward? If you need to get started with your Nexcess StoreBuilder Solution sooner rather than later, check out these resources:


    Next Steps with a Nexcess Cloud Hosting Solution?

    Read more about the Fully Managed Cloud Environment by Nexcess and its benefits for your business.

    A Cloud Hosting Solution That Lets You Do Business Your Way 

    We believe in the promise of cloud: scalability, security, performance, and ease of use. Together with our team, clients, and partners, we’ve built something better.

    Choose From Multiple Applications 

    Whether you’re a small business or a high-traffic eCommerce store, our cloud hosting solutions are designed around your needs: auto scaling, PCI compliance, and comprehensive development tools provide you with maximum dynamic flexibility in a fully managed cloud environment.


    We make applications easy with environment optimizations for:


    And there are many more!


    Next Steps with Fully Managed WordPress Hosting?

    Read more about the Fully Managed WordPress Hosting and its benefits for your business.

    Build Better Websites with Fully Managed WordPress Hosting 

    It’s hosting optimized for WordPress. That means a faster, more secure and scalable website. Smart monitoring tools are built-in to help you keep it that way. 

    It’s why WordPress Users Trust Nexcess Hosting.

    We also have a variety of Nexcess support articles about WordPressincluding how to get your site going with a number of different configuration options. These resources include a great article on setting this up for Migrating to Nexcess with managed WordPress and managed WooCommerce hosting

    Considering Use of a CDN?

    Many businesspeople wonder how a CDN speeds up your ecommerce site, but they will discover that the reasons are remarkably straightforward. Review the content, resources, and links in this article to learn more about those reasons in full detail.  

    Why Choose Nexcess?

    Because we're different! Chris Lema captures "the why" in his passionate and stirring recount of a Nexcess support-related story.



    Useful YouTube > Nexcess Channel Links


    Resources for More Information

    Need more help? The Applications, WooCommerceand WordPress sections within the Nexcess Knowledge Base are important resources for those seeking additional knowledge. 

    The Applications section also contains valuable insights for those seeking additional knowledge about our other various hosted applications and platforms. Check out our related video playlists and articles below:

    New Customers: Fully Managed Hosting Solutions

    Not a Nexcess customer yet? Check out our fully managed hosting solutions. The option to chat with an expert is also available.

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