Easing the pain of site launches with upstream redirects

Let’s be honest, migrating a site from one hosting provider to another can sometimes be a fragile process. It often requires close orchestration between developers, two different hosting providers, and most importantly, the client (sometimes including their IT staff).

There are all sorts of moving pieces; database synchronization, moving git repos, copying static files, and updating DNS. For what we’ve seen, it is usually the DNS that causes the most pain, especially in the moment of launching a site. Either the client can’t remember how/where to update the info or doesn’t realize that it takes time for the changes to propagate.

To help ease this pain, amazee.io has set up what we call the upstream redirect.

In practice, this is just a reverse proxy to the existing web hosting via nginx. Requests for the site come in, and the amazee.io servers redirect them to your clients current web host.

Here’s how it works:

  • We look up the CNAME or IP of the current web host
  • We will place that record into the nginx configuration for your site (managed via API and Puppet)
  • Your client can then freely point their DNS at the amazee.io servers
  • On launch day this configuration option is removed, and the site is immediately served from amazee.io servers

This setup allows you to work with your client well ahead of a site launch to manage DNS so any surprises are discovered and addressed in advance of launch. On launch day, your client gets the instant gratification of “flipping the switch” on their site and having it go “live” exactly when they wish.

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