Baby Steps With Deployments

Riley Major looks at small things you can do to help smooth out deployment processes:

It’s not just about exercising restraint, though. It’s also about taking small additional steps to minimize the impact of new development. If you are making a new stored procedure parameter, can you provide a default so that its omission will make the procedure act as before? If so, you can now deploy that change without affecting any consuming code. If you are changing the name of a column, can you create a computed column with the old name which simply mirrors the original column’s data? All insert- and update-related code would still need to change, but you could save the SELECT statements for the next round.

Ideally, these steps are transitory. Optional parameters can be made mandatory once all of the consuming procedures have been adapted. The legacy-named computed columns should be deleted once all old queries are updated. But recognize that this might not happen. Other priorities come up, and these supposedly temporary constructs can linger.

Click through for additional hints.

Managing Federated Systems

Aaron Bertrand tells how he would work with a federated system back in the SQL Server 2005 days, and ties it back to modern database deployment practices:

The biggest concern I have about database deployment is not about how you deploy, or even whether or not you use source control. It’s that your database changes are backward compatible – meaning they won’t break the current application, in the event the application can’t be changed at the same time (and with distributed software, that’s impossible). The largest number of bugs I had a hand in creating were caused because I assumed the application or middle tiers would be deployed at the same time.

I quickly became very motivated to make sure my changes would work before and after the application tier changes were deployed. Add a parameter to a stored procedure? Make sure it’s at the end, and has a default. Add a column to a table? Make sure views and stored procedures don’t expose it (yet) or require it. And a hundred other examples.

It’s a good read.

Availability Group Agent Alerts

Tracy Boggiano builds a set of SQL Server alerts related to Availability Group happenings and issues:

For Availability Groups we have a few extra error numbers we care about. Error number 1480 tells when a server changes roles, so we can know when a server flips from a secondary to a primary, or from a primary to a secondary. Error number 35264 tells when data movement has suspended on any database. This can occur for many reasons. One I have seen is when you have expanded your mount point on your primary and the data or log file runs out of space on the secondary the data or log file can not expand on the secondary because you forgot to expand the secondary. Error number 35265 tells you when the data movement has resumed on any database.  Error number 41404 let’s you know if your AG is offline which can be bad if you expected an automatic failover.  Error number 41405 let’s you know if an Availability Group can’t automatically failover for any reason.  In the later to cases you will want to look at your SQL Error logs and AlwaysOn Extended Events Health session.

Click through for the alert scripts.

Continuous Integration Is A Process

Derik Hammer makes the vital point that continuous integration isn’t a tool; it’s a process:

SQL Server Data Tools (SSDT) is a tool that I am particularly familiar with and will become the subject of my examples. SSDT database projects shift the source of truth from your database to your source control. The intent is that the project and its build artifact, the dacpac, is the desired state of your database. SSDT will then generate the code necessary for you to migrate from your current state to the desired state.

The problem with my description is that it is similar to saying, “hammers drive nails into wood,” and then expecting that you won’t have to learn how to swing the hammer, aim at the head of the nail, or regulate how hard you hit it. Tools like SSDT are not magic and they can have problems. A solid understanding of how they work can mitigate or completely avoid these issues, however.

Click through for Derik’s rant.

Powershell Gallery And The Linux Model

Chrissy LeMaire explains the Linux packaging model and the long-term vision for Powershell:

So Joey comes up and says “Chrissy, Aaron Nelson has pretty much required me to talk to you. The SQL Community has the #1 PowerShell UserVoice request. We see that – we’ve heard you, The People want Out-DataTable and we agree. Would you be happy if we added it to the PowerShell Gallery first?”

“Uh, no! I want Out-DataTable to be a first class citizen like Out-GridView.”

“But where we’re going with PowerShell — we’re going smaller – to just core files, then you add on from the Gallery as desired.”

“Oh dang, like Linux! I’m liking it, keep talking.”

“To be clear, this is post 6.0. In the 6.0 timeframe, but we want to decouple as many release trains as possible, like PowerShellGet and PSReadline. But we’ll still very well package the ‘uber-complete, awesome devops tool edition’ of PowerShell. In the meantime, you could setup a metapackage for just your database stuff.”

“So it is like Linux patterns! PowerShell Gallery does that? I’m sold.”

Chrissy goes on to explain what a Powershell Gallery metapackage module is, how to create one, and even how to publish one yourself.

Saving Your Biml Outputs

Tim Cost shows how to save the Biml which gets generated behind the scenes when you go to generate a set of files:

One of the first things I started wondering about as I got used to reading OPC (other peoples code) is just EXACTLY what is BIML doing at any given point in the code.  You can make some educated guesses based on the SSIS packages (in my case I’m exclusively interested in BIML for SSIS but of course it can do a lot more than that), but it’s easy to get lost, especially when there’s a lot of BIML script and some of it is only used to establish a data model in memory or to create / fill variables that will be used in SSIS.  I was delighted to discover the following piece of code that can show you exactly what BIML is doing based on the code you are writing.

If you don’t have BimlStudio, this trick is vital for figuring out what’s going wrong.

Dealing With Database Changes

Vladimir Oselsky walks through his database deployment workflow:

When it comes to actual deployment to Test and production servers, it is handled by application update program that runs scripts on the target server one by one in alphabetical order. Since we have clients running different versions, scripts always have to be applied in order, for example, if the customer is on version 1.5 before the could get 2.5 they need 2.0. This ensures that database changes are applied in correct order, and I don’t have to worry about something breaking.

One last problem that I have to deal with on a regular basis is Version-drift. This is caused when I manually patch a client for a fix without going through the proper build process. In those cases, I just have to manually merge changes into development to guarantee that it will make it out to other clients. Once in a while, it becomes quite complicated to keep track of different clients running different versions and how to ensure that if they need a fix, it is not something that could be resolved through update versus manual code changes.

Version drift can be a big pain, but check out Vlad’s workflow.

47 Incorrect Deployment Assumptions

Brent Ozar has a list of 47 assumptions regarding database deployments that turn out not always to be true:

30. The deployment person wouldn’t dream of only highlighting some of it and running it.

31. The staff who were supposed to work with you during the deployment will be available.

32. The staff, if available at the start of the call, will be available during the entire call.

33. The staff won’t come down with food poisoning halfway through the deployment call, forget to mute their home office phone, step into the bathroom, and leave the bathroom door open.

I’ve never had item #33 happen to me, but that’s a pretty solid list of stuff that can go wrong.

Database Deployment: Growing Up

Ryan Booz uses schooling as an extended metaphor for database deployment:

In general, the biggest issues we hit continue to be client customizations to the database (even ones we sanction) and an ever growing set of core-pop data that we manage and have to proactively defend against client changes.  This is an area we just recently admitted we need to take a long, hard look at and figure out a new paradigm.

I should mention that it was also about this time that we were finally able to proactively get our incremental changes into source  control.  All of our final scripts were in source somewhere, but the ability to use SQL Compare and SQL Source Control allowed our developers to finally be a second set of eyes on the upgrade process.  No longer were we weeding through 50K lines of SQL upgrade just to try and find what changed.  Diffing whole scripts doesn’t really provide any good context… especially when we couldn’t guarantee that the actions in the script were in the same order from release to release.  This has been another huge win for us.

This is a view from someone in the middle of the process.  Ryan’s group isn’t pushing everything automatically, but they’re building out to that.

Breakpoint Extended Event

Arun Sirpal is a dangerous man of mystery and danger, but mostly danger:

I did a dangerous thing, and I want to make sure that YOU DO NOT do the same.

I was creating a couple of extended events sessions and was playing around with some actions. I ended up with the following code where I was after a guy called Shane:

The probability that you intend to set a breakpoint in SQL Server via Extended Event is quite low (low enough that if you’re doing it, you should already know what you’re doing), but click through to see exactly what damage you can do.

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