Deployments and Rollbacks in Azure

January 12, 2015   //   Cloud, , , , ,

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There was a time when deploying software was a time consuming, manual and stressful process. We would spend hours and sometimes days configuring release scripts with associated stops and starts for manual intervention to ensure the highest level of quality all the while ensuring that we always had a backup plan for rolling it back out if something went wrong. Even if everything did go well, a tester could derail the entire operation and trigger hours of work for a team responsible for executing a rollback procedure in the middle of the night… there’s a reason Release Managers are hard to find! But those days are gone. Read my blog to learn more about how Microsoft Azure has revolutionized the way we think about deployments.

Azure is Microsoft’s cloud platform for Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS) that has revolutionized the way we think about deployments. Sure, we have made progress over the years and improved our scripts, environments and procedures to reduce manual intervention and enforce quality. But software deployment planning and execution has been optimized significantly with Microsoft Azure’s new service offerings.

Let’s Consider a Real-World Scenario:

Multiple developer teams check code into a repository throughout the day. The application is built, tested, and deployed to an integration server automatically with no manual intervention.

When the release is ready to be shipped, the code is deployed to a new QA environment, where software is installed and configured dynamically using the PowerShell Desired State Configuration extension. As the code is promoted through the environments, the process is considerably more hands-off (i.e. by using Agentless deployments) than it once was, but still gives release managers and testers the opportunity to validate the software in the QA and UAT environments and gate when it’s ready.

Prior to going to Production, code is deployed to a staging deployment “slot” using secure connections via SSL. The staging environment is warmed up and connected to live data sources where it’s subjected to one last round of testing. When the team gives the “okay” to go live, the staging slot is “swapped” for the production slot and is instantly live. The previous production slot is saved as the “last known good site” and can be restored just as easily as it was replaced.

In the process of going live, traffic redirection was seamless, no connections were dropped and there was no need to communicate unavailability to the applications consumers.

Admittedly, there was some work to make all of this magic happen, but the time saved and the ease of mind Azure brings through virtually eliminating problems introduced by manual errors or missed steps is well worth the investment.

Azure truly provides the opportunity to make software deployments a non-event so that you can focus on what really matters – the end user experience. If you want to hear more about Microsoft Azure’s release management capabilities, or are interested in a one day free on-site assessment detailing what it would take to move to Azure and confirm the return on investment, please contact Ben Brock.

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