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Feature Enablements and Maintenance Across Your Environments
With this post I wanted to clarify some best practices around the maintenance that needs to be applied when working with multiple environments to improve the stability of your site.
Each Commerce client has multiple environments setup (Toolkit, Staging, QA, etc), each serving a different purpose. The end goal of most of these environments is to make sure that your Production environment is stable, performs well, and functions as expected.
This means that when you are preparing/testing customizations and changes across these environments, they need to have a similar code base. Having the same Features and Maintenance applied will provide this consistency. There is an exception to this based on the version of Commerce you are using, so let us summarize it:
For WebSphere Commerce v7:
Any features you enable (except content-versioning) and maintenance that you apply to one environment, should be applied for the remainder of the environments as well. This ensures that you do not run into different behavior on different environments, which may lead to system stability issues and unexpected errors.
The following are three different types of installations/updates and where they need to be applied:
Note: The general sequence of application should be: Fix Packs > Feature Packs > Interim Fixes/Cumulative Fixes
For WebSphere Commerce v8:
Feature Packs and Feature enablements have been replaced with Mod pack installations; similar to how Fix Packs are applied.
As such, Features come already enabled on all environments; with Content-versioning being the exception again, where it only comes enabled on Toolkit (Developer), Staging and Authoring servers.
This means that to maintain the same code base, you would only need to apply the Fix Pack and MOD pack to every environment:
Note: There are no Interim Fixes in v8; they are grouped together and provided in the Fix Pack releases.
By following the above strategy, you will add the needed stability to your environments, so that you can spend more time developing and less time troubleshooting unexpected issues.