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Category: DevOps

Publishing Azure Data Factory via Azure DevOps

Kamil Nowinski shares how to deploy Azure Data Factory flows via Azure DevOps:

Struggling with #ADF deployment? adf_publish branch doesn’t suit your purposes? Don’t have skills with PowerShell? I have good news for you. There is a new tool in the market. It’s a task for Azure DevOps Release Pipeline to deploy whole ADF from code (JSON files) to ADF instance in Azure. Behind the scenes, it runs the PowerShell module which does all job for you.
Sounds unbelievable? But it’s real! Check it out for yourself.

Click through for a video.

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Operations Testing with Pester

Sheldon Hull takes us through using Pester to automate operations tasks:

In my example, let’s start small and say you just have PowerShell, and some servers.

What I’ve discovered is that to actual validate DevOps oriented work is completed, you typically go through the equivalent of what a Cucumber test would have. This “checklist” of validations is often manually performed, lacking consistency and the ability to scale or repeat with minimal effort.

Consider an alternative approach to helping solve this issue, and expanding your ability to automate the tedious testing and validation of changes made.

Read on for an example as well as some additional thoughts from Sheldon.

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Applying the Principles of Site Reliability Engineering

Sheldon Hull has an essay on site reliability engineering in practice:

I’ve always been focused on building resilient systems, sometimes to my own detriment velocity wise. Balancing the momentum of delivery features and improving reliability is always a tough issue to tackle. Automation isn’t free. It requires effort and time to do correctly. This investment can help scaling up what a team can handle, but requires slower velocity initially to do it right.

How do you balance automating and coding solutions to manual fixes, when you often can’t know the future changes in priority?

This is personal experience rather than prescriptive guidance. Very interesting personal experience.

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CI/CD with Databricks

Sumit Mehrotra takes us through the continuous integration story around Databricks:

Development environment – Now that you have delivered a fully configured data environment to the product (or services) team in your organization, the data scientists have started working on it. They are using the data science notebook interface that they are familiar with to do exploratory analysis. The data engineers have also started working in the environment and they like working in the context of their IDEs. They would prefer a  connection between their favorite IDE and the data environment that allows them to use the familiar interface of their IDE to code and, at the same time, use the power of the data environment to run through unit tests, all in context of their IDE.

Any disciplined engineering team would take their code from the developer’s desktop to production, running through various quality gates and feedback loops. As a start, the team needs to connect their data environment to their code repository on a service like git so that the code base is properly versioned and the team can work collaboratively on the codebase.

This is more of a conceptual post than a direct how-to guide, but it does a good job of getting you on the right path.

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Reading Azure DevOps Results in Powershell

Mark Broadbent doesn’t let the lack of an official Powershell module get in the way:

In my post Using Azure CLI to query Azure DevOps I explained how you can use the Azure CLI to query Azure DevOps so you can obtain useful information on builds, releases, and other useful information. The solution required a certain level of skill with JMESPath to manipulate your result sets -which as explained can be a little confusing.

However once you have a bare bones result set, it is likely that you will want to consume these results in a more user-friendly environment such as PowerShell so that you can build upon these data sets. I thought this would be an easy thing to do, but as you will see below it was anything but.

Read on for some thoughts and a sample script.

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Scripting and Deploying SQL Agent Jobs

Alex Yates shows how you can incorporate SQL Agent jobs in your CI/CD process:

Basically, we need to put all the SQL Agent Job .sql scripts into a git repo. Then we need a PowerShell script that executes each .sql script against the necessary target databases. If you use SSDT, you might prefer to use a post deployment script to do this. That bit should be reasonably straight forward. I’ll leave that as a task for the user since I’m short on time.

You probably want to put some thought into whether your agent jobs are scoped to a particular database, general server admin for a specific server, or whether you want them to be standardised across many servers since this may affect where you choose to put your jobs ion source control and on what schedule you want to deploy them.

It may also make sense to set up MSX if you have a central server. That would make Agent job deployment easier and you can still script out which sets of servers get which jobs.

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Release Flow Branching and Database DevOps

Kendra Little explains why the Azure DevOps Release Flow model can work well for database activity:

But how do you use branches? It’s helpful to pick a strategy. There are many fine Git branching strategies out there, things like GitFlow and GitHub Flow and more — enough that it’s overwhelming to learn about these when you are just starting out.

The strategy that I recommend for folks who are starting out with database DevOps and Git is the Azure DevOps team Release Flow model with dedicated development databases. (Why dedicated development databases? Read more here.)

Read on to learn why.

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Using Azure DevOps for Power BI CI/CD

Marc Lelijveld and Ton Swart look at today’s CI/CD options for Power BI:

As a developer we might be used to working with Git repositories, especially in order to have release management in place. Git is well known as a modern version control system. By using Git, you will have a local copy of the code on your machine as well. Based on these local copies, you can continue developing. After you’re finished with your work, you can easily push your local repository to merge with the online (shared) repository. By doing this, only the changes will be pushed and saved in the online repository. In fact, only for the new code there will be a new version created. 

Versioning of Power BI files is a whole different story. Since pbix files are binary files, there is no way of checking-in only the code changes. The process of pushing changes identifies the pbix file as one object which has a new version.

Read on for the state of the art. To be honest, I don’t like the state of the art that much, but that has nothing to do with Marc and Ton’s great article.

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Query Folding, Azure DevOps, and Power BI

Eugene Meidinger tries to work around a query folding limitation:

Query folding is one of the most powerful tools in Power Query and Power BI. It is the automatic process of pushing down filters and other transformations back to the data source. This can dramatically improve performance for your queries.

Unfortunately, OData is not guaranteed to support query folding. According to the Power BI documentation on incremental refresh.

Click through for Eugene’s alternative solution.

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Scaling Out Continuous Integration

Chris Adkin shows off parallelism in Azure DevOps continuous integration pipelines:

A SQL Server data tools project is checked out of GitHub, built into a DacPac, four containerized SQL Server instances are spun up using clones of the ‘Seed’ docker volume. The DacPac is applied to a database running inside each container, which a tSQLt test is then executed against, finally, at the end very end the tSQLt results are aggregate and published.

This is an interesting approach to the problem of lengthy tests: run them on several separate machines concurrently.

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