Managing database sync between staging and production servers

Hi all, I’m hoping someone has solved this before as it’s got me stumped.

One thing which I feel is important to a bug free development cycle is having databases aligned. This would involve an automated process which syncs the databases once a day/hour etc.

One thing which has got me stumped is when development underway. You’re working on the staging site, perhaps extending the database and adding new fields and pages. If you sync the live database to staging you’ll lose all of your changes, if you sync the staging db to live, you potentially lose all of your clients users and comments.

Has anyone achieved a stable workflow with this?

I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.

This seems a bit odd to me… we don’t even have an automated build for our live environments, let alone a db sync. We’d only ever touch live when changes have been thoroughly tested on staging – that’s the whole purpose of staging after all, isn’t it.

But what if the client updates the live server and you want to develop with their content in tact on staging, but at the same time you’re developing a separate feature on the staging environment? If you end up using a staging copy with content that doesn’t fully reflect the live site then you introduce the potential for bugs to appear.

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