Deploying a Windows Service
  • 25 Jan 2023
  • 2 Minutes to read
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Deploying a Windows Service

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Article Summary

A Windows Service is a program that runs in the background of the Windows environment OS, much like a Unix daemon. To be considered a service, a program must comply with the interfaces provided by the Service Control Manager (SCM). The SCM controls:

  • Database of installed services
  • Disk path of the programs/executables to run
  • Additional metadata for each service such as name, description, restart behavior, etc.

Services can be developed in .NET or in C/C++ using the Win32 API. Regardless of how they are developed, BuildMaster makes it easy to build and deploy these.

Building Windows Services

Building a service application in BuildMaster is essentially the same as Building .NET Console Applications in BuildMaster. The main difference is in how you deploy it.

Deploying Windows Services

Windows Services are typically deployed in two stages. For new services, an entry in the SCM must be created, whether it's added manually by Operations personnel (via sc.exe, PowerShell, or other mechanism), or automated by a Configuration Management tool like Otter, Chef, Puppet, etc. For organizations not bound by operations restrictions, BuildMaster can just as easily be configured to provision these services as well.

Once the service entry is present on a server, service build artifacts can be deployed repeatedly as long as the service is paused in the SCM before deployment. It is important to note that a Windows Service does not need to be deleted and rebuilt each time a new version of the service is deployed.

Automating Windows Service Deployment with BuildMaster

While there are various methods for deploying a Windows Service, we recommend deploying them according to the following general pattern:

  • Stop service (Windows::Stop-Service operation)
  • Deploy build artifact to the directory that contains the executable
  • Start service (Windows::Start-Service operation)

This group of operations can be performed on any server configured in BuildMaster. BuildMaster can interact with remote servers through agents. To specify which server to deploy the service to, use a for server block in the OtterScript plan, or as a best practice, specify a target server in the pipeline stage target.

An example BuildMaster plan that deploys a service on a server is:

for server us-east-svc-01
{
    Windows::Stop-Service HDarsService();
    Deploy-Artifact Service
    (
        To: D:\Services\HDarsService
    );
    Windows::Start-Service HDarsService();
}

Using the operations is basically the same as running the following PowerShell commands:

PS D:\Services\HDarsService> Stop-Service HDarsService
PS D:\Services\HDarsService> Expand-Archive -Path "E:\Artifacts\HdarsService.zip"
PS D:\Services\HDarsService> Start-Service HDarsService

Additionally, there is a Windows::Ensure-Service operation that can be used. It has two minor differences from the above control operations:

  • the ensure operation is designed for Configuration Management (i.e., Otter)
  • it can be used to create new services or delete existing services

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