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Common questions about migrating to Azure DevOps for SQL Server deployments

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In this post I want to cover common questions about migrating to Azure DevOps for SQL Server deployments. Because I got asked a fair few at SQLBits last week.

In fact, some people in the DevOps & PowerShell chat room kept me busy with their questions. Of course, I don’t mind because I enjoy sharing my knowledge with others who are starting to use it.

In addition, I have been asked a few common questions whilst presenting at other events. With this in mind, I thought I would post some of them here along with their answers.

To keep it simple I have decided to stick with a dozen. Which are as follows.

1: What is name of extension to edit queries in Azure Boards?

In reality, I’ve been asked this question a few times now. It’s called Wiql editor and you can find out more about using it within Azure DevOps here.

2: How do I install an extension?

If you have your own Azure DevOps organization to test things on you can simply click on the marketplace icon as shown below. From there you can search for the one you need. For example, you can search for ‘Wiql editor’.

3: Are there any concerns installing an extension?

Yes, there are some concerns within companies about installing extensions. If you work for a larger company you may find you have to get your extension request approved.

If you are a third party who provides Azure DevOps extensions I would share your testing processes for them.

4: Do you use Azure DevOps to organize events?

Yes, we do. In fact, as some may have seen from our demos in the past we actively use sprint boards. In addition, we use the Calendar extension to schedule all our events. Which I discussed in a previous post here.

5: Have you moved from various services into Azure DevOps?

Yes, I have. In fact, one team used various services and applications and we went all in with Azure DevOps. Organizing our work using the boards, using the Git repos and using Azure Pipelines a lot.

6: Did you have any challenges?

Yes, we did, luckily I work some awesome engineers which really made a big difference. Because to do something like this is a team effort. Like I discussed in a previous post here.

7: Do you have any recommendations for doing this?

Training is vital to be able to do a migration like this. Both for yourself and your colleagues. Some I recommend are Microsoft Learn and Pluralsight if you have access to it.

8: Where can I learn more about Git?

Microsoft Learn has a good introductory course about Git called ‘Introduction to version control with Git’. You can find out more about it here. Of course, there are a vast amount of other resources available online as well.

9: Classic Editor or yaml pipelines?

Always use yaml pipelines for production use. Classic editor is good for demos and when you are starting out. However, using yaml introduces much more possibilities. For instance, your yaml file is kept within source control.

Another advantage of using yaml is that if you look to use another service like GitHub Actions the syntax will be easier to get used to.

10: Can you only deploy a dacpac for SQL Server in Azure Pipelines?

Not at all, you can do so much more. For example, you can use services like SonarCloud to check the quality of your SQL code. You can also do some interesting things with your code as well. For example, create multiple dacpac files for different versions of SQL Server. Which I explained how to do in a previous post here.

11: Can you use GitHub Actions to update SQL Server databases?

Yes, you can. I have used it myself and it’s really good. Especially if you have your projects already in GitHub. One thing to remember if you are going to look at this is that the yaml syntax is different than it is within Azure DevOps.

12: State or migration-based deployments?

I thought I would save this one for last. Because the honest answer is that it depends. What I will say is that I instigated a pipeline that updates a database on a four-figure number of SQL Server instances using a state-based method.

Helped create a future post

Just for awareness, I did also get asked how to deploy SQL Agent Jobs within an Azure DevOps pipeline.

Due to the fact that a colleague has a really good way of doing I connected the person who asked at SQLBits with them. Because I want them to have the credit for their work.

After my colleague had shared their knowledge with them I persuaded my colleague to write a blog post about it. So, I am looking forward to that post.

Thank you

On that note, a big thanks to all involved with SQLBits for allowing myself and Sander Stad to present our session at SQLBits. Especially since you allowed us to do our video in our own unique way.

Final word

I hope me sharing common questions about migrating to Azure DevOps for SQL Server deployments helps some of you.

Of course, if you have any other questions feel free to reach out and I will do my best to help.

Common questions about migrating to Azure DevOps for SQL Server deployments
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