When you're dealing with product deployments at hundreds of sites, it's a given that you'll end up with some sites with a mix of older and newer versions of your own and other third-party products. Quite a few technical support calls we receive are due to incorrect or incomplete installations of various versions of our Flex2SQL connectivity kits. This is further complicated when you throw cloud deployments into the mix.
To minimize version mismatches and other errors due to product version mismatches, we built tools to help with the deployment of Flex2SQL drivers in various scenarios. We call it the Flex2SQL Deployment Toolset. The toolset is a collection of driver-specific deployment programs that help you streamline your Flex2SQL deployment.
The Flex2SQL Deployment Toolset contains tools to assist with the process of deploying all of our drivers and their dependent DLLs. You’ll find these tools are quite different from anything else you’ve used before but are geared towards making the installation, update, or repair of your application easier across the network, local, and cloud deployments.
One of the first things you’ll notice about these new tools is that they use a text-based user interface (TUI). This is something that is just not seen much today, but it has one big advantage that is becoming vital as more companies adopt cloud-based hosting: our TUI is compatible with headless versions of Windows! A headless installation normally requires that you get the command line arguments just right to install without needing a UI of any kind. With our Deployment Tools though, you’ll get a proper user interface that is intuitive and includes mouse support as well. Although it is being run from a PowerShell, the Flex2SQL Deployment Tools are standalone executables.
Because it works seamlessly on Windows Server Core without the desktop experience, you can roll out the lowest cost IaaS-based VMs which will reduce your hosting costs, and you can fully embrace remote administration tools. The TUI can either be used as part of your install process or it can serve as a means to generate a template command line you’ll need for your own installation process.
Additionally, the Flex2SQL Deployment Toolset handles some of the advanced installation scenarios seen across both corporate and ISV-based installations. Network installs, login script installs, local PC installs and cloud installs are all supported. The tools will also verify that you have the proper vendor-specific files needed to use Mertech’s drivers. For instance, when deploying our Flex2SQL Oracle driver, the deployment tool will copy a fully tested and isolated version of the Oracle Instant Client that will be used with the driver, independent of other Oracle clients on the computer. This reduces the likelihood that some other application or IT person will break your Dataflex application unintentionally when a change is made to the system-wide Oracle client.
The Flex2SQL Deployment Toolset can also help you repair a deployment that has been damaged in some way. If for instance a DLL goes missing, or the wrong license file seems to have been picked up, re-deploying into your application's "Programs" folder will fix whatever has gone wrong by assuring that you have the files needed for our drivers to work.
Some ISVs deploy two different drivers depending on their customers' needs. Their app works in both a Microsoft SQL Server environment and with Oracle for instance. Often they’ll have multiple versions of their application on development/testing machines and it can be difficult to make sure each workspace is set up with the correct driver. This is another use for the Flex2SQL Deployment Tools. You can use the deployment tools to install the driver in a workspace’s “Programs” folder rather than the Dataflex “Bin” folder which makes real-world testing easier.
Each driver gets its own Deployment Tool so you’re only downloading the files you need. This is a free tool available for all editions of Flex2SQL beginning with version 17. You can download the Deployment Tool here.
Interested in learning more? Watch this related video on how to automate the installation of Flex2SQL Drivers.