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Is it worth having a sandbox?

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Anonymous
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Is it worth having a sandbox?

I had a Marketo sandbox for our initial setup but have never otherwise used one. For those of you with a sandbox, is it worth the extra cost? Do you integrate your Marketo sandbox to your fullcopy SFDC sandbox? Does everyone get access or is it limited provisioning? How often do you refresh? How does testing work? Do you get access to releases early with sandbox?

I come from a strong process background for SFDC and we do everything in sandbox before implementing in production. Pros/cons to this approach in Marketo?

Appreciate the feedback as I'm trying to get my tech budget together

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Re: Is it worth having a sandbox?

I personally don't think the Sandbox is worth the money. I would instead spend that money on Workspaces and Partition.

It functions as a pseudo-sandbox in terms of development process—it's actually just a separate Marketo instance with the same functionality as your normal Marketo instance (with a few more limitations), only labeled as a "sandbox." The instances aren't mirrored automatically, and the proposed process is to build in the Sandbox instance and then import the program into the Production instance—that's a lot of manual work, with all the considerations of that process. It requires reactivating all smart campaigns, for one.

The Sandbox, when it's created, is a carbon copy of your Production instance. After that point in time, though, the Sandbox and Production instances lose that mirroring automatically, and can only be kept up through spending lots of time doubling your effort to keep them mirrored—a not-worthwhile amount of time and effort, especially considering the reality of quick, on-the-fly changes that need to happen in Production.

I think Workspaces and Partitions provide a better solution for: allowing new Marketo users to train in their own silo'ed partition and workspace, having a "Development" workspace/partition that is much easier to move the final product over to your "Production" workspace/partition, and it also gives you the other benefit of having workspaces and partitions anyway. Things like giving you the ability to have internal communications and employee leads in their own partition, or other random communication interests that come up which don't perfectly fit with your normal Marketo usage.

Cheers,

Edward Unthank

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Re: Is it worth having a sandbox?

Hi Emily,

It all comes down to how much you'll end up using it. I use the sandbox to test out new features we may be adding into SFDC, Marketo, our website, or one of our integrations, and as a training ground for new team members.

If your other environments aren't as intertwined with Marketo, you could get away without having a sandbox, but we've personally connected our Marketo sandbox, SFDC sandbox, website staging environment, and product staging environment so we're able to test everything end-to-end before pushing it live.

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Anonymous
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Re: Is it worth having a sandbox?

Hi Andy, What kind of things do you test end-to-end? New forms, programs? Is there a process for what needs to go into sandbox and what can be created in Production? Do you manually keep everything in the two instances updated since there's no auto-refresh?

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Re: Is it worth having a sandbox?

We have our Marketo instance integrated with our product (data flowing to and from between our Marketo instance and product), website, and SFDC and so in order to keep everything on the same page when we make big changes like upgrading our product to a new version, changing user profile properties in SFDC, rebuilding the corporate website and/or switching to an SSL server, and so on, it's much less nerve wracking doing it in the sandbox environment first.

We've prevented at least half a dozen fatal flaws from getting released publicly in the last year by testing in the sandbox ecosystem first and knowing exactly how everything will be impacted by making a certain change.

All depends on how big your changes are as well as what your budget is. Like Edward pointed out, for some companies, you'll be just fine without a sandbox and would be better off spending your money on partitions and workspaces.

All forms and programs are created straight into production. We pull things into the sandbox on a per-need basis. Every so often I'll go sync the operational programs over to the sandbox, but otherwise, it all depends on the changes we need to test in the sandbox e.g. changing privacy rights doesn't need programs to be up to date.

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Re: Is it worth having a sandbox?

I personally don't think the Sandbox is worth the money. I would instead spend that money on Workspaces and Partition.

It functions as a pseudo-sandbox in terms of development process—it's actually just a separate Marketo instance with the same functionality as your normal Marketo instance (with a few more limitations), only labeled as a "sandbox." The instances aren't mirrored automatically, and the proposed process is to build in the Sandbox instance and then import the program into the Production instance—that's a lot of manual work, with all the considerations of that process. It requires reactivating all smart campaigns, for one.

The Sandbox, when it's created, is a carbon copy of your Production instance. After that point in time, though, the Sandbox and Production instances lose that mirroring automatically, and can only be kept up through spending lots of time doubling your effort to keep them mirrored—a not-worthwhile amount of time and effort, especially considering the reality of quick, on-the-fly changes that need to happen in Production.

I think Workspaces and Partitions provide a better solution for: allowing new Marketo users to train in their own silo'ed partition and workspace, having a "Development" workspace/partition that is much easier to move the final product over to your "Production" workspace/partition, and it also gives you the other benefit of having workspaces and partitions anyway. Things like giving you the ability to have internal communications and employee leads in their own partition, or other random communication interests that come up which don't perfectly fit with your normal Marketo usage.

Cheers,

Edward Unthank

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Anonymous
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Re: Is it worth having a sandbox?

I like the idea of using Partitions/Workspaces for user training. That's a big pain for me right now.

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Level 10 - Champion Alumni

Re: Is it worth having a sandbox?

Generally, I agree with Ed on this.

However, if you have a very complex SFDC and martech stack and you are constantly rolling out new things in SFDC and across systems, it may be worth the expense for the sandbox because it will let you run test workflows w/o endangering the production workflows and email capacity. Would you want to find out those new Appexchange installs broken Marketo, before or after they are rolled out live?

While you can use the SB as a testbed for new programs, you'll have to pull them over and then rebuild part of them, so not much is gained that way. Like Ed said, just use a WS for that, or just a Training Folder.

Thus, only larger firms can truly afford this.

That being said, I have found it useful in the situation as described.

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Anonymous
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Re: Is it worth having a sandbox?

I'm surprised it doesn't have better functionality. I would think many public companies have to show their IT general controls and user acceptance testing procedures in sandbox and production.

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Level 7 - Champion Alumni

Re: Is it worth having a sandbox?

Being able to pull programs to/from instances is great!  Especially when building complex programs....

I've been able to make good use of this function lately!

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Level 6 - Champion Alumni

Re: Is it worth having a sandbox?

Agree with Ed and Josh.

One more thing to consider is that whenever you back up your SFDC production into sandbox the sync between your SFDC and Marketo sandboxes breaks, because your SFDC sandbox org id changes, every time that happens you have to contact Marketo support to resync the sandboxes. After that it takes up to a week for everything from your updated SFDC sandbox to sync to your Mrkt sandbox and during that time Mrkt sandbox becomes unusable. So if you are backing up your SFDC production into sandbox often, using Marketo sandbox becomes a real pain.

That said I found it very useful to test new SFDC/Marketo sync processes on sandboxes in the past.