Bounded context in deployment tools

Recently I’ve been moving around the topic of a deployment. Imagine a situation you’re being given a set of scripts, or script like objects used to deploy a set of applications. The so-called scripts are from the very basic like create-directory to complex, rooted in an organization infrastructure and tooling. Additionally, some of them are defined as groups of other scrips. For example, installing an application service starts with creation of a directory, then binaries are copied and finally, the service is registered.
The scripts are not covered with tests, but are hardened by years of successful usage. One could consider to rewrite them totally, and provide a full blown set of tests. This may be hard, as you throw away all the knowledge hidden behind scripts. Remember, that there were big companies that are no longer here, take Netscape as example.

I’ve spent quite a while about considering chef, PowerShell, Pupper even the msbuild with its tasks. What helped me to make up my mind was the famous Blue Book. Why not to consider a set of scrips as a bounded context? Just take a look at the picture provided by Martin Fowler here. Wrap all the older scripts in a context bubble providing mapping, mostly intellectual, to all the terms that are needed to be known outside. It’s more than wrapping all old scrips with an interface. There is a need of a real mapping with a glossary to let people which do not want to leave the bubble now exist in it for a while. What tool will be used for the new bounded context communicating with the other? That’s an open question. I’ll try to choose the best tool, with good enough test support. The only real requirement is the ability to provide the mapping to the old deployment tools’ context.

If you want to learn more, just take a loot at the great Eric Evan’s videos under this link: http://dddcommunity.org/?s=four+strategies

Out of order commands

In the previous posts a simple mechanism of storing information needed for operation idempotence was introduced. A simple hash table, which state is transactionally saved with the state of object onto which the send operation was applied. How about receiving operations out of order? What if infrastructure (for instance, messaging system) will pass one operation earlier than the second, which in reality occurred earlier?

It’s time to make it explicit and start calling elements in the DDD manner. So for sake of reference, the object considered as the subject of an operation is an aggregate root. The operation is of course a message. The modeling assumes using the event sourcing as a storage for aggregates’ states.

Assume, that the aggregate, which the command is sent to, has a property called Version, incremented with each event applied on. Assume then, each command contains a version number, which is supposed to be equal to the aggregate’s version. If, during dispatch, these two values are different, an exception is thrown and command do not change the state of the aggregate. It’s a simple optimistic concurrency implementation, allowing discarding out of order commands sent to an object.

To make it more interesting, consider a sharded system, where specific aggregates are stored by different nodes (but for each aggregate there is one node where it is stored). An aggregate’s events (state changes) have to be propagated across all the nodes/shards in the same idempotent manner as commands are sent to aggregates. It’s easy to apply hashtable for each node and with using the very same key: aggregateId with version but it would mean storing all the pairs of aggregate identifiers with their versions, which could possibly bring down each of your nodes (or make you use GBs of memory). Can the trivial fact, that version is increased with every event on the aggregate, could be used for some optimization? You’ll see in the next entry.

Idempotence, pt. 2

In the previous post a few operations were taken into consideration, whether there are (not) idempotent. For the sake of reference, here there are:

  • Marked as default
  • Money transfer ’500$’ ordered to ‘x’ account
  • Label ‘leave sth for the future month’ added

If we consider ‘idempotent’ as an operation which can be applied multiple times in a row, then all the operations overriding previous values of some properties are idempotent. Having some entity marked as default 5 times does not change the fact that it is default. That’s for sure. What about provisioning ‘x’ account with 500$? Can this type of operation can be reapplied multiple times? Of course not, because it does not override any property, it changes the state, by interacting with a previous one. The same goes for ‘labeling’, of course if there is no compensation introduced (select only unique labels before saving, which would allow reapplying).

What if you want your system to be resistant to operations resend multiple times? The simplest solution is to add unique identifier for each operation and storing them is a lookup (hashtable). Each time the operation arrives, the lookup is checked whether there this operation was already processed. If so, skip it.

There is one additional condition is to have the lookup transactional with a storage you save the states. This condition is a simple ‘all-or-none’ for storing the result of operation with the fact, that this specific operation was already applied. Otherwise, if lookup would be updated in the first place and storing the state after the operation failed, there would be no change saved. The same applies to a situation, where the lookup is updated at the very end. The operation result is saved, adding info about operation to lookup fails and the next time the same operation arrives it is applied one more time. Having that said, lookup must be transactional with the medium where state is saved.