Understanding How Azure’s Deployment Groups Work

written by craig beam posted on August 25, 2021

Azure Deployment Groups

Azure deployment groups are virtual machines that allow users to take advantage of deployment agents by interacting with Azure Pipelines in coordinating tasks. The earlier version of Azure DevOps required single deployments on each machine or server; manual Windows PowerShell remoting was done, and the deployment agent was installed when the ports are opened on each server. If a rollout deployment was needed, then the management of the pipelines had to be handled manually.

Thankfully, the introduction of Azure Deployment Groups has changed all that and made the entire process easier and more seamless. Now, a deployment agent can be installed in each of the servers of the deployment group, and a Pipeline is released to deploy the application steadily to all the target servers belonging to the group. It’s possible to provide phases of the latest version by creating multiple rollout deployments and validating the new features.

Azure Deployment Groups

What are Azure Deployment Groups?

A deployment group is a collection of servers that can be combined logically to form a unit that displays identical characteristics, such as being an environment. For instance, if you have a particular product that is deployed to different environments such as –Dev, Prod, Test, and Stage, then the environments will be regarded as four deployment groups. It’s important to note that one machine or server can only be in one group.

Typically, a user would have continuous integration (CI) build for creating a product to be deployed. A Release script can be configured to deploy the objects of the defined CI build to the list of servers, which is an environment. You can choose to create a Release script tactic through a deployment orchestra that pushes the packages to a certain number of servers in the Dev environment.

But, changes have to be made to accommodate any update that you may consider making in your next processes. For example, if your product has changed from 2 servers to 10 servers or machines, the deployment script has to be edited to accommodate the extra machines.

In certain cases, you’ll need to update the release definitions. For instance, if you have 40 release definitions that manage the various product components and not just one, you’ll need to update the deployment process of the ten servers in 40 release definitions. You’ll have to make changes to the remaining three environments, namely Prod, Stage, and Test.

In dynamic situations where servers have to be added to align with your product’s changing needs, the process of allocating and managing resources can be challenging. That is why Azure DevOps helps you avoid errors and simplify the entire process.

Usually, a release definition is set up to execute instructions on the agent or deployment group. The agent is the server that triggers the instructions, while the deployment group is where the instructions are executed.

Creating An Azure Deployment Group

You can access the deployment groups by clicking on Pipelines inside your Azure DevOps and click on Deployment groups. Since you’ll be having multiple deployment groups, consider giving your group a sensible, relevant name. In other words, name your group based on the purpose it’ll be serving.

For example, you can name groups that will be acting as environments with the environments they’ll be serving, such as Dev, Prod, Stage, and Test. To do this, you simply click on Add a deployment and give a name, say, Dev, and create.

Once you’ve successfully created your deployment group, choose the type of machines you want in the group, such as Windows OS and Linux, and you’ll automatically get your Registration script.

Copy and paste the script on your machine’s PowerShell command prompt. At this point, you will be required to provide the tags and credentials that you want to associate with your newly created deployment group.

Once your new machine is successfully registered, you will see a VSTS Agent windows service running. You’ll also see that your machine is listed on the Deployment group. After creating your new Azure deployment group, you can now link it to a release definition.

Link Group to Release Definition

Under Tasks, hover your cursor on Environment 1 and go to the set of three dots (ellipsis). On the three available options, choose the add deployment group phase. Creating a new release definition is a simple process if you follow the right steps.

Advantages of Azure Deployment Groups

Deployment groups are often used as smart containers for grouping objects so as to facilitate the deployment between different depositories, folders, and environments. These deployment groups exist either as static or dynamic types. While static deployment groups are used for one-off object transfers, their dynamic counterparts are often used for recurring object transfers.

In general, deployment groups can contain different targets, mappings, workflows, folders, tasks, and sources to be transferred to different folders across repositories on various domains.

Since deployment groups allow you to add and remove machines without changing the deployment process, they will help you boost your overall productivity. In addition, the deployment groups simplify traceability because identifying the specific release definition that was applied is just a few clicks process.

The Difference between Deployment Groups and Environments

While the two may share the same deployment theory, environments come up in situations where deployment instructions require YAML support. The resources that represent deployment targets form an environment when grouped. In addition, while it’s possible to create an environment directly in a Pipeline, it’s impossible to do the same with deployment groups.

It’s easier to track changes, codes and fixes with environments because they can record job items during deployment. Another advantage of environments is the ability to trace commits by viewing the entire deployment history.

MicroXpress is a reputable Azure partner in Pennsylvania’s York, Harrisburg, Hanover, and Gettysburg areas. We can help you set up the release of your project and even learn more about how the PowerShell script works. For more information on utilizing Azure solutions in streamlining your business’s operations and increasing your bottom line, contact our IT experts today.