We have announced the public availability of Visual Studio Release Management 2013 Update 2 RC today. Besides various minor fixes and enhancements, this release simplifies deployment of your applications to groups of servers, and triggering releases from third party systems. Let us talk about each of these features.
Deploying to groups of servers
Most of the applications have multiple tiers, and each tier has several servers. In order to deploy a component to all the servers in a tier, until now, you had to author the same deployment sequence with the same set of steps on each server. Not only was this laborious, it was hardly maintainable. Whenever, the sequence changed, it had to be updated for each server. Whenever a server was removed or added from a tier, all the release templates pointing to that server had to be updated. With 2013 Update 2, you can use “tags” on servers to simplify all of this. In a nutshell, you can add the same tag to all servers of a tier (Figure 1), and then author the deployment sequence once for the entire group of tagged servers (Figure 2). When the release is triggered, the deployment sequence is automatically run on all servers of a given tag in parallel. When a new server is added to an environment, you just have to have give it the right tag, and there is no need to update the release templates anymore. Tagging also simplifies copying the deployment sequence from one stage to another. You no longer need to remap servers.
Figure 2: Authoring a stage deployment sequence using tags
Integration with other CI systems
We have also added some new options to the Release Management command line tool. This opens new possibilities in terms of continuous deployment (triggering a release from a check-in/build).
ReleaseManagementBuild.exe –rt ‘MyReleaseTemplateName’ –pl ‘MyPackageLocation’
This will simply trigger a new release of the selected release template, and binds all the components in that release to the specified package location. You don’t have to provide any TFS build specific information. We will have a follow-up blog on how this can be used to trigger releases from VS online.
Visual Studio Release Management Update 2 RC is a go-live release. So, go ahead and use this release in your production deployments.