Friday, May 7, 2010

Artistic Patching

Most of the time when you're developing software you get buried in writing code to flesh out a bunch of business requirements, you set up a test desktop environment, and then slave away and work through the bugs. Then you tie up a handful of loose ends, catch up a bit on your documentation, throw together some training notes, and then finally the big install. Ach, it doesn't work in production. Nothing can be more frustrating.

You go back and check your setup notes, make sure all your key tables have the right data, make sure all the network paths are mapped and exist, triple check your configuration file settings, and still no-go. What the heck could it possibly be? All the DLLs look correct, all the web services are up, and as far as you know all your cohorts installed their respective pieces.

When you have reached the end of your rope it's time to think outside the box. And the part that you are overlooking is simply this: you need to apply all the service packs and Windows Updates on the production boxes. Yeah the SQL service packs as well.

At times it seems like a royal pain to hassle with software infrastructure that works as the foundation that you seldom actually think about. But the whole reason that you have development tools that have the power that they do is because they build upon this humongous hidden foundation. Do you want to avoid installation problems? Practice the art of keeping your core software fully patched.