Containers and Environments

The Dev-QA-Production Release Process

Change management and code release processes are supported in Combine through several key features:

    1. Code packages: A code package consists of scripts. Each script in the package is assigned to a Container. When running a code package, each script will be deployed on all target databases in the associated Container (more information about code packages can be found in the Code Packages section).

    2. Passing code packages between Dev, QA, and Production: Scripts are packaged into a single .cpa file. This file contains the text of the scripts and the name of the Container assigned to each script. Entire releases can therefore be saved as a single file that can be passed, viewed, edited, and deployed by individuals running Combine. More importantly, once all Containers are configured properly in the Dev, QA, and Production environments in the Combine Container Manager, each Container in Dev has a corresponding Container (i.e., Container with the same name) in QA and a matching Container in Production. This fact ensures fast release deployment for the following reasons: After developers write the release code and build a code package, software engineers in QA can easily open the package and deploy the entire package on the servers in QA by a click of a button, without altering the package content. Since each script in the package is already associated with a Container name, code deployed on target databases of Containers in Development is now deployed on the target databases of the corresponding Containers in QA. This principle also applies when passing packages from QA to Production. Examples that demonstrate the transfer and fast deployment of code packages between Dev, QA, and Production are provided below.

    3. Importing and Exporting Environment and Container configuration: Environments and Containers only need to be configured and maintained by one person who is familiar with the groups of target databases in Dev, QA, and Production. Once Environments and Containers are defined, their configuration settings can be exported and then imported by other Combine client machines. Also, note that the three Environments need not be defined on each machine running Combine: Developers only need the Dev Environment with the correct Containers settings, QA engineers need only have the QA Environment with Containers having the same name as in Dev, and Production DBAs only need the Production Environment, again, with same Containers names as in Dev and QA.

As an example, below is a snapshot of the Container Manager that stores the configuration of all three Environments and Containers for the physical Dev, QA, and Production environments previously described in Figure 9 when all Containers are Static Containers.

Figure 10:  Environments and Containers in the Container Manager where the settings of all three Environments are defined in Combine. Note that the folders names and Container names must be the same in the Dev, QA, and Production Environments.

As stated earlier, it is sufficient for developers to maintain the Dev Containers, for QA engineers to maintain the Containers that belong to the QA Environment, and for DBAs to keep the Production Environment Container settings. In this case, the following figure shows the Container Manager viewed by developers, QA engineers, and DBAs, respectively, when all the Containers are Static Containers. Keep in mind that Containers in different Environments need not be of the same type - Static Containers in one Environment could correspond to Dynamic Containers in another Environment as long as they have the same Container name (and they are placed under folders with same names in the Container Manager).

Figure 11:  Environments and Containers in the Container Manager seen by developers, QA engineers, and Production DBAs, when users only configure their own Environment.

Passing packaged between Dev, QA, and Production using Combine guarantees fast deployment in each environment as now demonstrated (see the section titled Code Packages to learn more about packages): Consider the code package in Figure 12. Each script in the package is associated with a Container name. In this sample package, scripts 01 to 04 are associated with the Web Databases Container, scripts under the Finance Databases folders are associated with the Finance Databases Container, scripts under DBA Databases as well as the script 08 are mapped to the DBA Databases Container, and script 07 is associated with the Billing Databases Container.

Figure 12:  A sample package that deploys scripts to all databases and servers in the Web Databases, Billing Databases, Finance Databases, and DBA Databases Containers.

Notice that each script in the sample package of Figure 12 includes a SQL statement that verifies that changes and objects created in the script are indeed deployed successfully. For example, once a table is created the script verifies that a valid OBJECT_ID is available for the new table (i.e., OBJECT_ID(TableName) IS NOT NULL) and returns a single row to inform the user of the rollout results.

Scripts in the package are executed according to their order in the package tree (see Configuring Code Packages for complete details). When developers run the package, scripts will be deployed on databases in the Containers of the Development Environment listed in Figure 11, and the deployment results are given in Figure 13. When the package is passed to QA engineers, the package is deployed by a click of a button on all the target databases in the QA Environment shown in Figure 11 without making any modification to the package configuration or package content. Execution results in the QA Environment are presented in Figure 14. In the same manner, after the package is sent to Production, DBAs need not make any package changes and can deploy the entire package on all target databases in the Production Environment by a click of a button as shown in Figure 16 below. Notice that the ContainerServer and ContainerDatabase columns in the grids result in the images below are added automatically by Combine to reflect the target database from which each row in the grid is returned). Results returned from the package execution are displayed as aggregated results from all target databases and also include the execution plan and results for each individual database.


    1. Once a package is executed, Combine performs a set of tests and verifications to ensure that scripts in the package will be executed successfully. For example, database and server connectivity as well as proper authentication and credentials are verified for all databases involved in the package execution before Combine deploys any of the scripts in the package. If any tests and checks are not successful, Combine will notify you of all issues and will not execute any portions of the package. In addition, several screens are displayed before the package scripts are deployed to provide users with better control and visibility to the execution. These screens and many other details involving the package execution can be found in the section titled Executing Code Packages.

    2. If multiple Environments are used to deploy code from one client machine as in the example of Figure 10, then using the Container Manager the user must set the Active Environment against which the package will be deployed. At any given time, only a single Environment can be active and the active Environment is the one displayed in bold letters in the Container Manager (for example, in Figure 10 the Development Environment is the active Environment). By setting the appropriate active Environment in the Container Manager, the Dev-QA-Production release process can also be followed from a single client machine that has access to all databases and servers.

    Figure 13:  Execution results of the code package in Figure 12 against the Development Environment.

    Figure 14:  Non-sorted execution results of the code package in Figure 12 against the QA Environment. Results can be sorted using tools in the grid.

    Figure 15:  Non-sorted execution results of the code package in Figure 12 against the Production Environment. Results can be sorted using tools in the grid.

    © 2001-2018 JNetDirect, Inc. All Rights Reserved.