How do I request a development, test and production environment?

This FAQ was last modified on: Tuesday, May 16, 2017 10:50am
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While OIT does not support site development, we do have a best practice on how to setup and configure your sites so you can easily switch between production, test and development instances.

Domain name terminology

Hosting Sitename is an internal name used by the hosting service to track user sites. It is also used by the servers to answer incoming requests using the same name but it does not have to match your published http://sitename.

Control panel Domain Aliases are alternate domain names that your site will answer for. They do not set DNS despite the control panel from implying that it will.

Often DNS CNAMEs are also called Domain Aliases, but we will specifically call them CNAMEs in this document to avoid confusion.

We will use the Hosting control panel Domain Aliases functionality to configure which one of your many sites act as the production site. We could use the Hosting Sitename, but this removes self service capability from you, so it is not recommended.

Non-Recommended site configuration

This is the traditional way many people would request their many sites, but it is not recommended. It adds a DNS dependency that prevents you from being able to switch in a test site into production and a production site out to test. The http://hosting.gatech.edu control panel can't change DNS and you will have to depend on DNS updates to propagate out to the world for your changes to take effect. Lastly, you will have to request that your site names are renamed. This can all be avoided by using the configuration following this bad example.  Please note that not all sites need a production, test, and dev site.  We have found that most people that request three sites never use the test site.  Production and development sites are generally all that are needed.

Image Example Information
Non-Recommended site configuration

Image of EXAMPLE.gatech.edu production site

Hosting Sitename:
   example.gatech.edu
Hosting Domain Alias:
   none
 
DNS A RECORD:
   example.gatech.edu -> web-pleskX
DNS CNAMES:
   www.example.gatech.edu -> example.gatech.edu
Image of dev.EXAMPLE.gatech.edu site
 
Hosting Sitename:
   dev.example.gatech.edu
Hosting Domain Alias:
   none
 
DNS A RECORD:
   dev.example.gatech.edu -> web-pleskX
DNS CNAMES:
   www.dev.example.gatech.edu -> dev.example.gatech.edu
Image of test.EXAMPLE.gatech.edu site
Hosting Sitename:
   test.example.gatech.edu
Hosting Domain Alias:
   none
 
DNS A RECORD:
   test.example.gatech.edu -> web-pleskX
DNS CNAMES:
   www.test.example.gatech.edu -> test.example.gatech.edu

Recommended site configuration

We avoid the above problems by setting DNS upfront so it will send all requests to one place. All requests for all sites will goto the same backend web-plesk server. However, they way you have each site's control panel's Domain Aliases set will determine what site answers the request.  Please note that not all sites need a production, test, and dev site.  We have found that most people that request three sites never use the test site.  Production and development sites are generally all that are needed.

Image Example Information
Recommended site configuration
Image of EXAMPLE.gatech.edu production site
Hosting Sitename:
   s1.example.gatech.edu
Hosting Domain Alias:
    example.gatech.edu
 
DNS A RECORD:
 s1.example.gatech.edu -> web-pleskX
DNS CNAMES:
  www.s1.example.gatech.edu -> s1.example.gatech.edu
Image of dev.EXAMPLE.gatech.edu site
 
Hosting Sitename:
   s2.example.gatech.edu
Hosting Domain Alias:
   dev.example.gatech.edu
   Note: This is optional as you could simply visit s2.example.gatech.edu during development.
 
DNS A RECORD:
  s2.example.gatech.edu -> web-pleskX
DNS CNAMES:
  www.s2.example.gatech.edu -> s2.example.gatech.edu
Image of test.EXAMPLE.gatech.edu site
Hosting Sitename:
   s3.example.gatech.edu
Hosting Domain Alias:
   test.example.gatech.edu
   Note: This is optional as you could also visit s3.example.gatech.edu during testing.
 
DNS A RECORD:
  s3.example.gatech.edu -> web-pleskX
DNS CNAMES:
  www.s3.example.gatech.edu -> s3.example.gatech.edu
 
DNS A RECORD:
   example.gatech.edu -> web-pleskX
DNS CNAMES:
   www.example.gatech.edu -> example.gatech.edu
   Note: If you requested the optional, "dev", "test", "prod" or whatever terms, we would add them here for you as well.

In this example, the site internally known as s1.example.gatech.edu is set to be the production site http://example.gatech.edu. Another nice feature here, is that you can later request additional example sites, if needed, and they will work with your existing setup.

If you suddenly wanted to take s2.example.gatech.edu into production, all you would need to do is; 1) remove "example.gatech.edu" from example1.gatech.edu's Domain Aliases control panel and 2) add "example.gatech.edu" to s2.example.gatech.edu's Domain Aliases control panel.

You can make this change as many times as you want and back out your changes quickly. Please bear in mind that it may take the web server a few minutes to apply your changes.

How to add a Domain Alias (Production Domain Name) to your development site on Plesk Control Panel

Your Domain Aliases control panel is on the front page of your site's main control panel;

 

 

You can perform add and remove from it after you select it;

Again note that the www. prefix is automatically added to these, so you will not have to specify them.

How do I request this configuration?

When you use the https://hosting.gatech.edu/request page, simply fill in the two fields below thusly;

Domain name requested? example.gatech.edu

Does DNS need setup at this time? Please setup multiple sites; s1.example.gatech.edu, s2.example.gatech.edu, s3.example.gatech.edu. Set example.gatech.edu as the main DNS entry. I will configure my Domain Aliases to determine who answers requests for example.gatech.edu

We will setup DNS for all the numbered sites with their appropriate CNAMES and www. versions as well.

"dev", "prod" and "test" names?

But what if you wish to use these names so your developers can determine what site is what? We don't recommend calling the Hosting Sitename by these terms.  You have to juggle the code from site to site whenever you switch. It is better to only set these as Domain Aliases. If you do want these, please ask us in your request to also add CNAMEs for all of these. You can choose any naming convention you want at this point.  You will then want to define what site bears these names in their respective Domain Aliases control panel.  Please note that not all sites need a production, test, and dev site.  We have found that most people that request three sites never use the test site.  Production and development sites are generally all that are needed.

Example: Add CNAMES dev.example.gatech.edu, test.example.gatech.edu.