Watchful is a relatively new service that focuses on providing a unified dashboard that allows backups, updating, monitoring, and other services for multiple Joomla installations. This service has been created by a joint venture between Anything Digital who are also the authors of sh404SEF,and inetis, a Swiss-based Joomla consultancy company. We here at RocketTheme have been testing Watchful in an effort to make our demo server more manageable, and I wanted to take the opportunity to relay our findings and thoughts.
Our demo server is the home to more than 100 Joomla site installations each with their own set of extensions and configurations. In the past, the process of managing these sites and keeping them up to date, has been a very manual one, requiring one of our staff to painstakingly log into each site to update it. As you can imagine this has quickly gotten out of hand, and we went searching for a better alternative. We considered writing our own scripted solution, but then I spoke with Victor Drover of Watchful about their Watchful product and it sounded like a great fit.
Watchful provides many features that you can read about on their website, but the most important one for us is the ability to remotely update our many Joomla instances from a single unified interface.
As you can see from the main Dashboard view, we can instantly see the state of all our Joomla installations and can quickly jump to the Site or the Administrator views. The status icon in the far-right column allows us to see at a glance if an instance has any pending updates, and clicking on a particular site gives us the detail of any updates that are pending:
The site detail view shows a summary of information about the site including versions, IPs etc, even providing a button to perform a quick malware scan. The tabs below show any pending updates as well as the currently installed versions of other components, modules and plugins. Updates can be accomplished by clicking the "Update all" button to remotely update everything or clicking each update manually if you are more cautious.
Another great features are the notifications that get sent when an update is detected, this really helps us keep on top of our updates and ensure our Demos are kept current and secure. We have been using Watchful for a couple of months and have found it to be a real lifesaver. The service has been very reliable and when we discovered a bug in the latest client that showed up with our rather special file structure, it was quickly fixed. We have been working with the Watchful team and have setup a special offer for RocketTheme members if you want to check out this most handy of services.