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deployment - Release Management to different environments (Dev/QA/Integration/Stable)

问题描述:

I recently joined a company as Release Engineer where a large number of development teams develop numerous services, applications, web-apps in various languages with various inter-dependencies among them.

I am trying to find a way to simplify and preferably automate releases. Currently the release team is doing the following to "release" the software:

CURRENT PROCESS OF RELEASE

  1. Diff the latest revision from SCM between QA and INTEGRATION branches.
  2. Manually copy/paste "relevant" changes between those branches.
  3. Copy the latest binaries to the right location (this is automated using a .cmd script).
  4. Restart any services

MY QUESTION

I am hoping to avoid steps 1. and 2. altogether (obviously), but am running into issues where differences between the environments is causing the config files to be different for different environments (e.g. QA vs. INTEGRATION). Here is a sample:

IN THE QA ENVIRONMENT:

<setting name="ServiceUri" serializeAs="String">

<value>https://servicepoint.QA.domain.net/</value>

</setting>

IN THE INTEGRATION ENVIRONMENT:

<setting name="ServiceUri" serializeAs="String">

<value>https://servicepoint.integration.domain.net/</value>

</setting>

If you look closely then the only difference between the two <setting> tags above is the URL in the <value> tag. This is because the QA and INTEGRATION environments are in different data-centers and are ever so slightly not in sync (with them growing apart as development gets faster/better/stronger). Changes such as this where the URL/endpoint is different are TO BE IGNORED during "release" (i.e. these are not "relevant" changes to merge from QA to INTEGRATION).

Even in a regular release (about once a week) I have to deal with a dozen config files changes that have to released from QA to integration and I have to manually go through each config file and copy/paste non URL-related changes between the files. I can't simply take an entire package that the CI tool spits out from QA (or after QA), since the URL/endpoints are different.

Since there are multiple programming languages in use, the config file example above could be C#, C++ or Java. So am hoping any solution would be language agnostic.

SUMMARY OF ENVIRONMENTS/PROGRAMMING LANGUAGES/OS/ETC.

  1. Multiple programming languages - C#, C++, Java, Ruby. Management is aware of this as one of the problems, since Release team is has to be king-of-all-trades and is addressing this.
  2. Multiple OS - Windows 2003/2008/2012, CentOS, Red Hat, HP-UX. Management is addressing this too - starting to consolidate and limit to Windows 2012 and CentOS.
  3. SCM - Perforce, TFS. Management is trying to move everyone to a single tool (likely TFS)
  4. CI is being advocated, though not mandatory - Management is pushing change through but is taking time.
  5. I have given example of QA and INTEGRATION, but in reality there is QA (managed by developers+testers), INTEGRATION (managed by my team), STABLE (releases to STABLE by my team but supported by Production Ops), PRODUCTION (supported by Production Ops). These are the official environments - others are currently unofficial, but devs or test teams have a few more. I would eventually want to start standardizing/consolidating these unofficial envs too, since devs+tests should not have to worry about doing this kind of stuff.
  6. There is a lot of work being done to standardize how the binaries are being deployed using tools like DeployIT (http://www.xebialabs.com/products) which may provide some way to simplify these config changes.
  7. The devs teams are agile and release often, but that just means more work diffing config files.

SOLUTIONS SUGGESTED BY TEAM MEMBERS:

  1. Current mind-set is to use a LoadBalancer and standardize names across different environments, but I am not sure if "a process" such as this is the right solution. There must be a better way that can start with how devs write configs to how release environments meet dependencies.
  2. Alternatively some team members are working on install-scripts (InstallShield / MSI) to automate find/replace or URLs/enpoints between envs. I am hoping this is not the solution, but it is doable.

If I have missed anything or should provide more information, please let me know.

Thanks

[Update]

References:

  1. Managing complex Web.Config files between deployment environments - C# web.config specific, though a very good start.
  2. http://www.hanselman.com/blog/ManagingMultipleConfigurationFileEnvironmentsWithPreBuildEvents.aspx - OK, though as a first look, this seems rather rudimentary, that may break easily.

网友答案:

Generally the problem isn't too difficult - you need branches for each of the environments and CI build setup for them. So a merge to the QA branch would trigger a build of that code and a custom deployment to QA. Simple.

Now managing multiple config files isn;t quite so easy (unless you have 1 for each environment, in which case you just call them Int.config, QA.config etc, store them all in the SCM, and pick the appropriate one to use in each branch's deployment script - eg, when the build for QA runs, it picks qa.config and copies it to the correct location and renames it to the correct name)(incidentally, this is the approach I tend to use as its very simple).

If you have multiple configs you need to use, then its always going to be a manual process - but you can help yourself by copying all the relevant configs to a build staging area that an admin will use to perform the deployment. Its a good first step in that the build they have in a staging directory will be the correct one for them, they just have to choose which config to use either during (eg as an option in the installer) or by manually copying the appropriate config over.

I would not try to manage some automated way of taking a single config file in source control and re-writing it with different data in the build, or pre-deploy steps. That way lies madness, and a lot of continual hassle trying to maintain the data and the tooling. Keep separate configs in place and make sure the devs know to update all of them when they make a change. (Or, you can hold 1 config in the SCM tree and make sure they know that merging their changes must not overwrite any existing modifications - multiple configs is easier)

网友答案:

I agree with @gbjbaanb. Have one config for each environment. Get your developers to write apps that read their properties (including their URLs) from config files and commit config files for each environment. Not only does this help you with deployment, but config files under revision control provides reproducibility, full transparency, and an audit trail of your environment specific settings.

Personally, I prefer to create a single deployable package that works on any environment by including all of the environment configs (even the ones you aren't using). You can then have some deployment automation that figures out which config files the apps should use and sets that up appropriately.

网友答案:

Thanks to @gman and @gbjbaanb for the the answers (http://stackoverflow.com/a/16310735/143189, http://stackoverflow.com/a/16246598/143189), but I felt that they didn't help me solve the underlying problem that I am facing, and restating just to make clear.

  • The code seems very aware of the environment in which they run. How to write environment-agnostic code?

The suggestions in the answers above are to store 1 config file for each environment (environment-config). This is possible, but any addition/deletion/edit of non-environment settings will have to be ported over to each environment-config.

After some study, I wonder if the following would work better?

  • Keep the config file's structure consistent/standardized e.g. XML. Try to keep the environment-specific endpoints in this config-file but store them in a way that allows easy access to the specific individual nodes/settings (e.g. using XPath).
  • When deploying to a specific environment, then your deployment tool should be able to parse (e.g. using XPath) and update the environment-specific endpoint to the value for the specific environment to which you are deploying.

The above is not a unique idea. There are some existing implementations that tackle the above solution already:

  1. http://www.iis.net/learn/develop/windows-web-application-gallery/reference-for-the-web-application-package & http://www.iis.net/learn/publish/using-web-deploy/web-deploy-parameterization (WebDeploy)
  2. http://docs.xebialabs.com/releases/3.9/deployit/packagingmanual.html#using-placeholders-in-ci-properties (DeployIt)
  3. Home-spun solutions using XPath find and replace.

In short, while there are programming-language-specific solutions, and programming-language-agnostic solutions, I guess the big downfall is that Release Management needs to be considered during development too, else it will cause deployment headaches - I don't like that, since it sounds like "development should be aware of what tests will be designed". Is there a need AND a way to avoid this, is the big questions.

网友答案:

I'm working through the process of creating a "deployment pipeline" for a web application at the moment and am sifting my way through similar problems. Your environment sounds more complicated than ours, but I've got some thoughts.

First, read this book, I'm 2/3 the way through it and it's answering every question I ever had about software delivery, and many that I never thought to ask: http://www.amazon.com/Continuous-Delivery-Deployment-Automation-Addison-Wesley/dp/0321601912/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1371099379&sr=1-1

Version Control Systems are your best friend. Absolutely everything required to build a deployable package should be retrievable from your VCS.

Use a Continuous Integration server, we use TeamCity and are pretty happy with it so far.

The CI server builds packages that are totally agnostic to the eventual target environment. We still have a lot of code that "knows" about the target environments, which of course means that if we add a new environment, we have to modify all such code to make sure it will cope and then re-test it to make sure we didn't break anything in the process. I now see that this is error-prone and completely avoidable.

Tools like Visual Studio support config file transformation, which we looked at briefly but quickly realized that it depends on environment-specific config files being prepared with the code, by the developers in order to be added to the package. Instead, break out any settings that are specific to a particular environment into their own config mechanism (e.g. another xml file) and have your deployment tool apply this to the package as it deploys. Keep these files in VCS, but use a separate repository so that revisions to config don't trigger new builds and cause the build number to get falsely inflated.

This way, your environment-specific config files only contain things that change on a per-environment basis, and only if that environment needs something different to the default. Contrary to @gbjbaanb's recommendation, we are planning to do whatever is necessary to keep the package "pure" and the environment-specific config separate, even if it requires custom scripting etc. so I guess we're heading down the path of madness. :-)

For us, Powershell, XML and Web Deploy parameterization will be instrumental.

I'm also planning to be quite aggressive about refactoring the config files so that the same information isn't repeated several times in various places.

Good luck!

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