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Acquia Cloud Next

Acquia Cloud Next is the name of a major update to Acquia Cloud Platform, introducing improved performance, security, and resiliency for applications at any scale. Rolling out first to Cloud Platform Enterprise subscribers throughout 2021, Acquia Cloud Next upgrades for Cloud Platform Professional and Acquia Site Factory subscribers will begin in 2022.

Environments running on Acquia Cloud Next are indicated in the Acquia Cloud Platform user interface with the following icon:

acn_1

Acquia’s non-Kubernetes version of Cloud Platform is now referred to as “Cloud Classic” infrastructure.

Key benefits

The Acquia Cloud Next infrastructure leverages more powerful cloud-based technologies to maximize application performance, security, and resiliency, especially during periods of high load. Powered by Kubernetes and enhanced with Acquia’s unique optimizations for Drupal, Acquia Cloud Next leverages ultra-secure container-based isolation and advanced data management technologies to ensure that your applications accommodate almost limitless scale.

Environments running on Acquia Cloud Next technologies have the following benefits:

  • Dynamic auto-scaling that is faster and more automated than ever before
  • Re-architected file system, delivering data as fast as 10 GB per second
  • Re-architected database layer, delivering up to 5x the throughput of databases running on more traditional MySQL infrastructure deployments
  • Self-healing infrastructure that ensures containers are constantly refreshed and unhealthy pods are automatically pruned
  • Invisible platform updates for most types of maintenance to reduce noise and maximize availability
  • Atomic code updates to ensure clean builds on new containers during every code deployment
  • Web layer software isolation to ensure that Drupal, Memcached, Cron, SSH, and Cloud Hooks always have the resources they need to operate performantly without interfering with each other
  • Optimized Memcached architecture to improve cache resiliency
  • Storage growth beyond 1 TB on file systems and databases
  • Easy access to historical logs, up to 30 days of logs available through the Cloud Platform user interface and Acquia’s Cloud API v2

Software isolation enhancements

Acquia Cloud Next leverages containerization to optimize resource isolation and resiliency while improving infrastructure security. As a result, services that typically operated on the same infrastructure on previous versions of the Acquia Cloud Platform now run in dedicated pods, even on non-production environments.

On Acquia Cloud Next, application services are assigned to dedicated pods as follows:

  • Drupal (Apache, PHP)
  • SSH Sessions
  • Cron Jobs
  • Memcached
  • Cloud Hooks

This level of resource isolation ensures that the key services associated with delivering your Drupal application are able to utilize the cloud capacity they require without adversely impacting each other, even during periods of increased activity.

Changes to Cloud Platform features

Important

Some of the following new platform behaviors may require changes to your custom scripts, cron jobs, CI/CD automations, or standard development processes. If your Cloud Classic environments are scheduled for upgrade to Acquia Cloud Next, audit your application to ensure that the changes that can be made prior to the upgrade are deployed before the scheduled maintenance date. Also, prioritize the changes that can’t be made prior to the upgrade so that they are deployed immediately after the maintenance event.

As a result of newer technologies utilized by Acquia Cloud Next, some Cloud Platform features behave differently for environments running on Acquia Cloud Next, including:

General changes

  • Servers Page: This page is no longer available.

  • Users & Keys Page: This page is no longer available.

  • Stack Metrics: Cloud Platform load balancer metrics are still displayed, but application, file system, and database metrics have been temporarily removed; new graphs measuring Cloud Capacity Unit utilization over time have been added; CPU graphs will show lower utilization on Acquia Cloud Next whenever a site is experiencing no or minimal load.

  • SSH: Some system commands available on the current version of the Acquia Cloud Platform may not be available when using SSH to access an Acquia Cloud Next environment.

    • SSH sessions will now terminate after one hour if a code deployment has taken place on that environment since the SSH session started.

    • Drush aliases may need to be downloaded again for environments upgraded to Acquia Cloud Next.

    • The ssh syntax and default domain syntax for Prod environments initially created on Acquia Cloud Next are updated for consistency to resemble the syntax of non-production environments. This change doesn’t impact existing Prod environments.

      Environment SSH Default domain
      Existing Prod environments: mysite.ssh.prod.acquia-sites.com mysite.prod.acquia-sites.com
      New Prod environments: mysiteprod.ssh.prod.acquia-sites.com mysiteprod.prod.acquia-sites.com
  • Database backups are no longer available in SSH sessions. You can use Acquia CLI, the Cloud Platform user interface, or Cloud API v2 for database backup retrieval.

  • Memcache: Memcache now runs per-environment instead of per-server and leverages mcrouter.

  • Memcache Memory Limit: You can now configure your Memcache memory limit on the Advanced Settings tab of the Environment Settings page in the Cloud Platform user interface.

  • Historical Log Access: The Download Logs page now allows you to select a specific date and time range when attempting to download a log file. Logs are limited to 24 hour increments. Downloading logs may take up to 30 seconds longer on Acquia Cloud Next compared to Cloud Classic. This is due to the introduction of a remote log retention service to ensure logs persist when environments auto-scale.

  • Code Deployments: With the introduction of Atomic updates, code deployments on Acquia Cloud Next environments will now take approximately one minute longer, compared to deployments on Cloud Classic environments. This extra time is required to deploy new infrastructure and ensure a clean build.

  • Changing Environment Settings: Changing your environment settings will trigger an atomic update, similar to a code deployment. This provisions new capacity for your environment and retires the old capacity once the new capacity is in place. This ensures that the new settings don’t cause problems for your Cloud Platform infrastructure before traffic is routed to the updated containers.

  • Cron: Long-running cron jobs can no longer be terminated manually through SSH sessions. If you require assistance, contact Acquia Support.

Changes that may require customer action

If your environments are being upgraded to Acquia Cloud Next from the Classic Cloud version of Acquia Cloud Platform, pay attention to the following changes that may require updates to your code, site configuration, or development processes:

  • All environments, applications, and subscriptions upgraded to Acquia Cloud Next are subject to the March 31st, 2021 revisions to Acquia’s Support Users Guide and Acquia’s Products & Services Guides (Legacy Server-based Pricing Model, Current Views/Visits Pricing Model), especially as they pertain to Acquia’s Fair Use Limits on dynamically auto-scaling infrastructure. See all sections related to the use of shared resources, infrastructure capacity, and capacity management for more details.

  • MySQL Management Software: Currently, MySQL Workbench is not fully compatible with Acquia Cloud Next. Therefore, customers who are using it to connect to environments running on Acquia Cloud Next must use Sequel Pro. Alternatively, customers can use the following workaround to connect to your environment:

    1. Locate the database credentials listed on your Databases page.

    2. In a local terminal, run: {ssh -L $LOCAL_PORT:$DB_HOST:3306 $SSH_STRING}

      Here,

      • LOCAL_PORT is the port to which Workbench must connect when using localhost.
      • DB_HOST is the hostname obtained from the Acquia Cloud Platform user interface.
      • SSH_STRING is the full connection string from the Acquia Cloud Platform user interface. For example, user@something.
  • simpleSAMLphp: Customers with simpleSAMLphp in an application must make a few changes before upgrading to Acquia Cloud Next to ensure ongoing compatibility with both Acquia Cloud Classic infrastructure and Acquia Cloud Next. For more information, see Using SimpleSAMLphp with Acquia products.

  • Legacy keys: SSH keys that were manually added to an environment before the October 2018 EOL of per-environment SSH key management won’t persist after the upgrade to Acquia Cloud Next. If your application was running on Cloud Platform Enterprise before that date, visit the Users & Keys page for each of your application’s environments before they are upgraded. You must ensure that all necessary SSH keys are properly associated with users in your subscription’s Teams & Permissions console. Failure to do so may result in errors whenever users, scripts, development software, automations, or remote services attempt to access those environments after they are upgraded.

  • The /var/log/sites directory is no longer available for direct log access or custom log storage. Use /shared/logs for custom log storage instead.

  • Slow Queries: Long-running MySQL queries will now be terminated after running for 60 seconds on non-production environments or 5 minutes for production environments. To ensure your environments complete all long-running transactions as expected, wrap them in a MySQL transaction to avoid the risk of data loss or corruption. If your environments require long-running MySQL queries to complete reports or other complex data management processes, contact your Acquia accounts team to request a delay to your upgrade to Acquia Cloud Next.

  • Memcache:

    • You must upgrade your Memcache module to the latest version to view Memcache metrics on the memcache_admin page of your Drupal application.

    • Environments upgraded to Acquia Cloud Next are assigned the Memcache memory limit previously associated with their Cloud Classic infrastructure. As a result, for environments previously deployed on Cloud Classic infrastructure with other environments, this setting may be higher than necessary post-upgrade and may need to be reduced to a lower limit to prevent excess resource utilization.

    • Memcached data is available through CLI by using the acquia-memcache stats command. The mcstat command is currently not available on Acquia Cloud Next environments.

    • To optimize performance for your application after upgrade, access your New Relic APM account and test your environments with Memcache turned on and off during periods of low traffic. Applications that are less complex may see even better response times without Memcache on Acquia Cloud Next due to improvements to MySQL. You can disable Memcache on Acquia Cloud Next environments by navigating to each environment’s Configure Environment page, clicking the Advanced tab, and setting your Memcache memory limit to 0 MB. Some applications may also need to have this line added to the settings.php file to prevent Memcache from running automatically:

      define('AH_NO_MEMCACHE_INCLUDE', 1);

  • Code Changes:

    • To avoid slow page load times on Acquia Cloud Next, applications with the following line of code (or similar) in any Memcache settings files must be commented out before any environments are upgraded to Acquia Cloud Next:

      # REMOVE or comment out any lines similar to this that set OPT_BINARY_PROTOCOL to true.
      $settings['memcache']['options'][Memcached::OPT_BINARY_PROTOCOL] = TRUE;
      
    • For environments running on the Cloud Classic infrastructure (for example, RA or CD environments), you must add the require line in settings.php.

    • For environments running on Acquia Cloud Next technologies, you don’t need to explicitly add the require line in settings.php. By default, all Acquia Cloud Next environments have the require line at the bottom of the settings. php file. The require line includes files and such files include variables with specific values. To override such values, you must add your custom values for the variables after the require line. For more information, see require line.

  • Remote Administration: Applications running on Acquia Cloud Next should test all Remote Administration patches in an Acquia Cloud Next non-production environment before pushing changes to the production environment. This ensures that no differences in Acquia Cloud Next and Acquia Cloud Classic logic impact the way patches behave after deployment in an Acquia Cloud Next environment.

  • Logic requiring access to a tmp or persistent shared directory must be redirected to $HOME on Acquia Cloud Next.

Acquia Cloud Next architecture

To learn more about the differences between the underlying architecture in Cloud Classic and Cloud Next environments, see Cloud Platform architecture and key concepts.

Testing your environments after Acquia Cloud Next upgrades

Acquia strongly recommends that you immediately test your non-production environments as soon as they’ve been upgraded to Acquia Cloud Next. This not only ensures that any technical issues can be investigated and resolved quickly with the help of the Acquia Support team, it also reduces the risk that the upgrade on your production environment will either be delayed or, potentially worse, that it will introduce the same behavior there.

When testing your environments, the following practices are recommended:

  • Ensure that you note down any anomalous behaviors on each environment’s sites prior to the upgrade so that you can clearly differentiate between existing bugs in your application and new bugs introduced since the upgrade.

  • After upgrade, load your sites on each environment and verify that they are behaving the same after being upgraded to Acquia Cloud Next as they were before the upgrade took place.

  • Test any custom functionality, focusing on the most critical behaviors of your application, including custom modules, reports, scripts, cron jobs, CI/ CD automations, and connections to remote non-Acquia services.

  • Verify that cron jobs are both running as expected and logging as expected, keeping in mind that Acquia Cloud Next has a new directory for cron logs and custom logs that must be routinely pruned to prevent unnecessary growth of your file system:

    /shared/logs
    
  • SSH on to your environment to verify that all necessary scripts, Drush commands, automations, and CLI commands that you require are available; some may require updates and adjustments to syntax, and certain CLI commands you had used previously may not be available; a new SSH syntax will be required to access your Prod environment.

  • If necessary, re-download your Drush aliases to ensure they are compatible with Acquia Cloud Next.

If you discover any technical issues after your environments are upgraded to Acquia Cloud Next, file a new ticket with Acquia Support and ensure you have selected an appropriate level of urgency. Also, be sure to include steps to reproduce the problem and a clear summary of how the environment behaved prior to upgrade. Do not use your maintenance notification ticket to report technical issues.

Acquia Cloud Next limitations

  • Acquia Cloud Next is currently optimized for the latest versions of Drupal 8 and Drupal 9. Drupal 8 and Drupal 9 applications that are more than three minor versions behind the most current minor version may not operate as expected on Acquia Cloud Next and may be adversely impacted by periodic platform updates that deprecate support for older Drupal 8 and Drupal 9 packages, libraries, and dependencies.
  • Acquia Cloud Next is currently available in Acquia’s us-east-1 region for applications in our primary shared VPC. Additional regions and VPCs will be supported in a later release.
  • Acquia Cloud Next does not support cron jobs that run more often than once every five minutes. If you run cron more often, configure such jobs to run no more than once every five minutes. Otherwise, they may not get completed as frequently as scheduled.

Software packages on Acquia Cloud Next

Acquia Cloud Next may not include the same PHP libraries, SSH commands, and other expected software or customizations available on previous versions of the Acquia Cloud Platform. To request specific functionality not otherwise listed on this page as coming soon, contact your Acquia account team.

Temporarily unavailable features

Before upgrading your environments to Acquia Cloud Next or launching a new application on Acquia Cloud Next, review the following restrictions to ensure that you won’t require them before they are available on Acquia Cloud Next.

The following Cloud Platform dashboard features are temporarily unavailable on the current version of Acquia Cloud Next and will be added in an upcoming release:

The following Cloud Platform infrastructure features are not supported on the current version of Acquia Cloud Next but will be added in an upcoming release:

The following Acquia products and services may not behave as expected on Acquia Cloud Next, depending on their configuration:

Note

Next sandbox environments and sandbox applications provisioned for Beta testing purposes shouldn’t be used for normal development workflow operations and may be taken offline or removed at any time.

Deprecated features and services

The following features and services won’t be supported on Acquia Cloud Next at any point after launch:

Acquia recommends that all subscribers use Cloud IDE instead. For more information, contact your Acquia account team.

Known issues

All known issues associated with Acquia Cloud Next technologies or upgrades not otherwise listed on this page can be found here.

Troubleshooting

Acquia Cloud Next technologies have been extensively tested against a broad variety of Drupal applications, including various custom configurations, with assistance from Cloud Platform subscribers all over the world. In the event that you encounter any technical issues with applications running on Acquia Cloud Next infrastructure, contact Acquia support and Acquia will work with you to resolve the issue as quickly as possible.

If you are participating in Beta testing for a new release of Acquia Cloud Next using sandbox environments or applications, report all feedback and issues you encounter in the Acquia Cloud Next Beta ticket associated with your subscription.

Change log

All changes to Acquia Cloud Next technologies can be found on the Cloud Platform Release Notes page, with Acquia Cloud Next prepended to such entries.