Release management process for database // IT Management Solutions

Release management process for database

Database deployments are notoriously tricky. Luckily, we have some great tools available to ease the pain! I will show how to use Release Management to manage database deployments but first let's talk about using SSDT to manage database.

Step 1: Use SSDT to manage databases

Traditionally, database changes are handled via SQL scripts. When a developer needs to change the database schema, they write a little SQL script and (if we're lucky!) put it into source control. Then, when it's time to deploy the new code, someone (sometimes a developer, sometimes a DBA) runs the script. This quickly gets hard to manage, because we end up having to ask a lot of questions:

  • What database scripts should be run for this deployment?
  • What order should the database scripts be run in?
  • Who should be running them?
  • When should they be running them?
  • Are the database scripts able to be safely run multiple times?

When you build a SSDT project, SSDT will generate a file containing your database schema - a DACPAC - and allow you to publish it. Publishing a DACPAC results in your DACPAC's schema being compared to your database's schema, and automatically generates a SQL script containing the necessary SQL statements to make your database match up with your DACPAC schema. It's very configurable, so you can make sure it only automatically does the actions that you want it to!

Okay, so we've solved the problem of how to manage our database schema... we'll use SSDT! But now the question of how to publish our database schema is looming. Well, if you've read my previous blog posts, you probably already know what I'm going to say: Use Release Management for Visual Studio!

Step 2: Use Release Management for Visual Studio for database deployments

Let's start by looking at my application's database. You can see that it's just another project in my web application's solution, so it will build a DACPAC for me whenever I build all the other pieces of my application.

Now I want to deploy this DACPAC whenever I release my website. Let's look at how we can use Release Management to do that.

Release Management has a built-in tool to handle doing DACPAC deployments, so all we really need to do is make a new component that leverages the existing tool.

For the "Source" setting, we can choose "Builds with Application", and we can set our package path to the root of the build drop folder. Since the Release Template we're going to be deploying is already tied to my automated build that generates the DACPAC and my website, all of the details of where the DACPAC is going to come from is already handled for us.

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