Monday, July 16, 2007

Multi-stage deployments

I was recently foxed, I'll have to admit. Even when you don't think your own code's behaviour will impact another application, distributed shared environments seem to make it a likely event. For instance, you deploy a component upgrade onto one application server only... but you are unaware of the fact that references to your component are cached by clients, each of which can switch application servers at the drop of a hat. The result: thousands of errors an hour and irate support teams! :-)

Anyway, the lesson learned is that deployments - like code - should be thoroughly planned and all assumptions should be documented and passed over by someone who knows the target environment really well.

The other lesson learned is: don't change anything that you don't NEED to change. If you are required to alter the behaviour of one method, that's all you should do. Don't be clever and think that you can now refactor the code too; you'll get another opportunity to do that if it's really necessary. I guess it boils down to the fact that if your code was tightly coupled to start with - which, let's face it, a lot of code is - then you're more likely to break something. Something as silly as a client caching the method ID from an IDL definition instead of late binding using the method name can cause hours of anguish. Don't say I never warned you.

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