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Deploying app updates to a cluster

Note: This article was originally published at Planet PHP on 21 June 2010.
Planet PHP

So William was asking on twitter how to best deploy symfony apps to a cluster of servers. There are actually some nice deployment tools inside the symfony cli that ease deployment to a single server, but that doesn't really cover the cluster case. Actually I assume that if you have a cluster of servers the best deployment strategy should probably be optimized against your specific use case. But let's make this question a bit more general: How do you deploy updates to your PHP apps running a clustered setup? What architecture do you pick? How do you keep the site running with as few limitations as possible during the update? How do you distribute the new code? How do you clean and prime your caches? How do you handle DB changes? How do you ensure that the DB and code changes do not get in the way of each other?

Obviously the choice of RDBMS can play a big role here. MySQL likes replication setups, so I can envision making the site read only, disabling replication, update master schema, take a slave out of the load balancer, update code, reenable replication to that slave, repeat. With PostgreSQL, Oracle and RDBMS like that you tend to scale with just getting a bigger DB server (and having a warm failover server). Guess that simplifies things a bit (especially since PostgreSQL even supports transactional DDL, which should help with timing the deployment of the DB changes). Or maybe just make sure that DB changes never cause BC breaks.

Anyway, I am looking to just collect approaches here in the comments. So please ideally post links to slides or detailed blog postings below. I am sure this could become a very useful link collection for the PHP community. Thanks :)