> Does anyone have experience using a staging server for QA? Will a
> some type of pre production environment that "closely" resembles the
> production environment help?
There is a win, and it's huge. However, the huge win comes when
"closely" means "you can move stuff from QA to production by automated
methods". I suspect the cost for building this translation framework
won't pay back unless you're doing serious software development.
If when you move stuff you're stuck emacsing hostnames from jim-qa to
jim-prod everywhere, then you're going to miss some, and you'd be
better off doing QA on a recent copy of prod on a private network.