On Wednesday, 24 March 2021, Acquia will begin upgrading customer applications to Acquia Cloud Next (ACN). Acquia Cloud Next technologies provide even better performance, scalability, and resiliency during periods of high load. Powered by a more advanced serverless architecture than the current version of the Acquia Cloud Platform, Acquia Cloud Next ensures applications can scale even faster to satisfy the demands of high traffic events and resource intensive processes.
As we move to enable customer applications on Acquia Cloud Next, we recognize that customers may have questions about this upcoming upgrade. The following is a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) we hope will address any questions you might have.
When will Acquia Cloud Next be available to me?
Acquia Cloud Enterprise
Acquia is committed to providing all Cloud Platform customers with access to Acquia Cloud Next technologies as quickly as possible. Our April 2021 release makes Acquia Cloud Next available to new and existing Cloud Platform Enterprise customers with compatible applications which do not require any of the advanced features noted here.
Acquia will continue to release new features from that list and expand access to ACN throughout 2021, with a few final features rolling out early in 2022. Acquia’s customers applications requiring FedRAMP compliance, early in 2022.
Acquia Cloud Professional
Acquia Cloud Professional applications will gain access to Cloud Next technologies early in 2022.
Acquia Cloud Site Factory
Acquia Cloud Site Factory applications will gain access to Cloud Next technologies early in 2022.
What exactly happens during the upgrade process?
For non-production environments, Acquia will trigger automated processes that deploy your code, databases, files, and environment settings to Acquia Cloud Next infrastructure so that it can be tested by our automated tooling. During this process, your file system and databases will be placed in read-only mode to prevent the possibility of data loss, but your site may still appear to be online to unauthenticated traffic if cached content is available via Varnish or your CDN. Once our automated tests are complete, we will only cut over traffic to the Acquia Cloud Next version of your environment and restore full access to your files and databases if the upgrade is successful. Otherwise, we will restore access to your files and databases on your Cloud Classic infrastructure and reschedule the upgrade for a later date and time.
For production environments, Acquia will follow a similar process, however environments with larger file systems and databases may require the use of more advanced upgrade tooling that begins a pre-sync process prior to the start of the testing and cutover process. As with the upgrades on your non-production environments, no visible impact to you or your end users is expected until that final process begins.
Can Acquia tell me the exact date and time of my upgrades?
Maintenance windows for these upgrades will follow Acquia’s standard maintenance procedures, and will only take place during each hosting region’s designated “dark hours” (11:00pm to 7:00am infrastructure local time.)
Acquia will assign environments to these maintenance windows based on a number of factors, including an application’s size and configuration. Due to the nature of these upgrades and the number of environments being upgraded each night, we will not be able to provide an exact start or end time for your specific environments, however you will be able to see in the Cloud UI that the upgrade is complete based on the appearance of the Acquia Cloud Next icon on each upgraded environment. You will also receive an update in your maintenance notification ticket as soon as the maintenance event is complete.
How long does the upgrade process take?
Depending on the size of your file system and databases, the upgrade process, once started, could take up to 30 minutes on your non-production environments, and up to 5 minutes on your production environment. In either case, Acquia may begin automated preparations for the final cutover process hours in advance, however no visible impact to you or your end users is anticipated during that pre-cutover phase.
Will there be downtime during the upgrade?
Yes. The portion of the upgrade process which requires limited downtime is not expected to exceed 30 minutes on non-production environments, and customers should expect less than 5 minutes of downtime on production. In both cases, the total downtime will be proportional to the size of your file system and databases. You can get a general sense of the total time required for these tasks on your applications by initiating a file or database copy between environments in the Cloud UI or via Cloud API v2.
For customers with larger file systems and databases on their production environments, Acquia will utilize specialized tooling to reduce the time it takes to deploy your files and databases to Acquia Cloud Next. This will make it easier for us to achieve near-zero downtime for most customer applications, with up to five minutes for production environments on the largest applications.
Is there anything I can do to reduce downtime during the upgrade?
There may be steps you can take to reduce downtime depending on how your application works.
For applications with all or mostly cacheable content, ensure your CDN or Varnish cache settings are set to hold onto content for at least an hour on the night of the maintenance event. This will help ensure your unauthenticated end users are still able to see the content on your site, even while the site is down for maintenance. This approach will not be as effective for applications with authenticated traffic or uncached content, especially if your sites cannot render properly without write access to the file system or database, even when users are merely browsing content but not otherwise triggering any actions.
Acquia also recommends that customers empty their cache tables and back up then delete any file system or database content that might meaningfully reduce the size of either on each environment. This step should be taken prior to the start of the maintenance event to avoid a reduction in performance for visitors to your site.
As a general rule, smaller file systems and databases can be upgraded more quickly than larger ones.
Do I need to take any action to prepare for upgrades?
Acquia’s Cloud Next technologies and our associated upgrade processes were designed to minimize the need for customer involvement. However, depending on the structure of your specific application, there may be steps we recommend you take to optimize your application's performance on Acquia Cloud Next. All customers should review the current list of recommended changes and best practices as outlined in our technical FAQ.
Do I need to take any action after the upgrades?
Acquia strongly recommends that all customers immediately test their non-production environments as soon as they have been upgraded to Acquia Cloud Next. This will allow you to confirm everything on your application and the Acquia Cloud Platform works as expected. Otherwise, critical functionality on your applications and environments may be adversely impacted once your production environment upgrade is complete.
What technical issues are typically encountered as a result of the Acquia Cloud Next upgrades?
While many applications may be successfully upgraded with no additional effort from the customer, some applications will require changes to align with our best practice recommendations based on the underlying technologies of Acquia Cloud Next. More information about this can be found in our technical FAQ.
How long will it take Acquia to upgrade all environments on my application?
Once upgrades on non-production environments are complete, customers will have approximately 14 calendar days to test all upgraded environments and verify that all essential Acquia Cloud Platform and Drupal site features are working as expected, including automations and scheduled (cron) jobs. Customers are advised to contact Acquia immediately in a new support ticket with the appropriate urgency selected for any technical issues discovered after upgrades.
If no critical issues are identified and reported after seven days have elapsed, Acquia will send a second maintenance notification for your production environments, and then they will be upgraded at least seven calendar days after that, depending on maintenance window availability.
In total, customers should expect production and non-production environments to run on two separate versions of the Acquia Cloud Platform for approximately three weeks, unless otherwise noted.
Can my production environment be upgraded sooner once my non-production environments are done?
Yes. If you would prefer to have your production environments upgraded as soon as possible after the completion of upgrades on your non-production environments, please respond to the maintenance notification ticket we send for your non-production environments and let us know you would like your production upgrades to move forward.
We will make every effort to accommodate your request based on the availability of open maintenance windows and other scheduled upgrades. Please ensure non-production environments are tested immediately after they are upgraded to verify that it is safe for upgrades on your production environments to proceed on an accelerated schedule.
I have multiple applications that are all eligible for upgrade. Can Acquia upgrade them in a specific order?
For customers with more than one application on the Acquia Cloud Platform, we will schedule your applications for upgrade as soon as they become eligible. If you have a specific application you'd like to have upgraded first, please contact your Acquia account team to make this request and we will work to accommodate you.
I have blank applications. Can Acquia upgrade all of these environments at once?
Yes, upon request. Acquia may also reach out on a case-by-case basis to suggest this approach on some applications.
Can Acquia upgrade my applications over the weekend?
Acquia will only perform upgrades during each region’s designated dark hours from Monday to Friday. Upgrades will not be performed on weekend nights.
Can I postpone my upgrade to a later date?
Acquia will only permit upgrades to be postponed if the selected date and time might adversely impact your business operations due to a coincidence of timing -- for example, with a site launch or major event. In these instances, the delay period cannot exceed four weeks.
Can I reschedule my upgrade if something comes up at the last minute?
If a critical issue or business event increases the risk of complications during a scheduled maintenance event, you may request a postponement no less than four hours before the start of the maintenance window.
Are these upgrades required, or can I elect to remain on Cloud Classic infrastructure indefinitely?
Acquia is now in the process of retiring all Cloud Classic infrastructure and related platform logic. For that reason, these upgrades are required for all customers, and requests for deferral for longer than one month will not be granted.
What should I do if I need one or more of the features only available on Acquia’s Cloud Classic infrastructure?
If your application has not yet been provisioned, Acquia can provision it on our Classic Cloud infrastructure to ensure it has access to the features you need until they are available on Acquia Cloud Next, at which point we will schedule your environments to be upgraded.
If your application has already been provisioned on Acquia Cloud Next, please contact your Acquia accounts team to schedule a temporary migration to Acquia’s Cloud Classic infrastructure.
What happens if Acquia upgrades my environments and I discover something wrong?
Acquia Support is available 24x7 to assist with any critical issues you discover on your environments after an upgrade, and can be contacted via lower urgency tickets for less urgent issues that require technical support. Once you have provided steps to reproduce the issue, the Acquia Support team will attempt to identify the source of the anomalous behavior you’ve identified.
If practical, Acquia will attempt to resolve the issue without the need for a reversion back to your Cloud Classic infrastructure. In some rare cases, however, issues may require you to make changes to your application’s code or configuration. If this happens, such changes cannot be made by Acquia on your behalf, although the Acquia Support team will attempt to make recommendations on possible remediation approaches.
For issues of critical severity, however, Acquia will coordinate with your teams to determine if the fastest and safest path to resolution is a reversion back to your Cloud Classic infrastructure. If your team cannot be contacted in a timely manner, Acquia may revert your application to restore normal operations on the impacted environment(s) as quickly as possible.
How long do I have to notify Acquia that something is wrong with my environment?
You can contact Acquia Support at any time after your environments are upgraded to report a technical issue. However, if you need to be reverted back to your previous infrastructure for any reason, then Acquia must know within seven calendar days of your upgrade.
As a general practice, Acquia will keep your Cloud Classic infrastructure running for one week following the completion of both non-production and production upgrades for the last application running on it, just in case any issues are detected that do require a reversion. After seven calendar days have elapsed without any environments actively running on that infrastructure, it will be terminated.
After the one week period has passed, Acquia will attempt to resolve any issues that definitively require a reversion to Cloud Classic infrastructure by provisioning new Cloud Classic infrastructure and making every reasonable effort to replicate your original settings and configuration. In some cases, this may not be possible, so alternative solutions will then be determined in close collaboration with your team.
Is there a risk of data loss during the upgrade or reversion processes?
Acquia will make every effort to avoid any form of data loss during the Acquia Cloud Next upgrade and reversion processes. These efforts will include setting your file system and database to read-only during the final cutover, that way no changes are made to your source infrastructure once the final data sync is either underway or complete.
What if I suspect some data was somehow lost?
Depending on the criticality of the suspected missing data, Acquia may review available disaster recovery snapshots and make them available to you for data inspection and recovery.
Will backups of my site be taken before the upgrade begins?
Disaster recovery snapshots are taken at regular intervals on Acquia Cloud, including hourly for the past four hours. Once the upgrade is complete, the final version of your pre-upgrade file system and database will continue to persist on your Cloud Classic infrastructure in an idle state for up to seven days.
How does Acquia Cloud Next impact my existing subscription?
For customers on Acquia's Views/Visits pricing model, no additional paperwork is required, and your contract will not need to change. Views/Visits measurements will not be impacted by the upgrade to Acquia Cloud Next, and we will continue to monitor storage utilization on all environments. You will still be subject to the Fair Use guidelines in Acquia’s Products and Services Guide.
For customers on Acquia's legacy instance-based pricing model, no additional paperwork is required, and your contract will not need to change. We will simply convert the instance-based CPU/Memory capacity associated with your existing infrastructure to Cloud Capacity Units on Acquia Cloud Next.
Will I have to pay extra for Acquia Cloud Next?
No. These upgrades are offered to all customers at no additional cost.
How will I know if one or more of my environments are running on Acquia Cloud Next?
Environments running on Acquia Cloud Next are indicated with the following icon:
Are there other major maintenance events happening soon?
At Acquia, we are committed to maintaining the security and stability of the Acquia Cloud platform. To do so, we are removing software that has reached end-of-life and adding new features on an ongoing basis. We are also improving our documentation and communication around these events as we understand they can be disruptive. We work to provide as much lead time as possible in order to make it easier to ensure your application continues to run as smoothly as possible while these upgrade and retirement efforts are underway. For more information on upcoming maintenance upgrades, see our Software end-of-life schedule.
Who do I reach out to if I have questions?