DevOps and the database: Three reasons why you should integrate

Most organizations know that in order to be successful, they have to be able to react quickly to external forces. And, with the constant uncertainty in today’s global markets, changes in regulatory compliance — such as the recent General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) and upcoming California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) — as well as ongoing competitive pressures, organizations are working to increase their agility in order to adapt to these evolving conditions. This necessitates IT teams to embrace DevOps.

To create greater alignment with the way application development is done, IT managers have to revise how they’ve traditionally approached database change management. To do that, it’s important they have the confidence to bring database development and deployment operations into the agile Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) processes.

However, where to start can be a struggle for organizations especially with many of today’s traditional database infrastructure consisting of a hybrid database environment, with both on-premises and cloud platforms, as well as traditional and open source databases, resulting in a potentially complicated infrastructure to manage.

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Typically, database change management operations have quite a long process to get changes from development to production, with release cycles between six weeks and three months on average. While more companies are embracing agile methodologies into their organizations as a way for their business to be more proactive and innovative, incorporating database changes into these methodologies remains anything but easy due to development processes such as the unit testing of procedural code as well as the risk of applying data changes to a live environment.

Even so, there are a number of organizations that have actually embraced DevOps successfully. They are able to spend less time on unplanned rework and ensure release changes are completed faster, in return seeing lower costs and even revenue growth. Moving to a DevOps culture requires executive leadership to step up and make the necessary organizational changes and ensure IT does the research and invests in the right tooling to automate processes that have traditionally been manual.

While most organizations understand that they need to become fully agile, integrating the database into their DevOps CI/CD infrastructure is quite a big step. Here are the three benefits as to the importance of integrating database management into the CI/CD processes:

Reduce outages and errors

Database changes are traditionally done through SQL scripts, with DBAs conducting reviews near deployment, which can cause adjustments and edits to take more time, accrue additional costs, and more likely cause errors in deployment. Integrating the database into the CI/CD infrastructure enables DBAs to better build, deploy, test, and release phases with the use of key enablers within CI/CD processes like version control and build automation. With this, there are fewer errors made and fewer outages that occur.

Improve release management

Embracing DevOps improves release management with better staging environments — environments are standardized in DevOps with a staged environment that closely matches the production database. With this, teams are able to obtain results from test environments that are more in line with what is happening in the production environment. Having this ability means that production deployments are of better quality, performance, and scalability and do not cause surprises like an unexpected outage.

Ensure more concise iterations

DevOps helps collaborative cross-functional teams accomplish smaller batch cycles, initiating more minor changes that are therefore more manageable. By integrating database change management into the CI/CD infrastructure, DBAs can take on and finalize smaller changes in shorter iterations, in turn providing quicker release updates.

Adopting a DevOps culture as a part of your database development cycle means you can more efficiently produce software changes, provide speedy testing, optimize quality assurance and code changes, and confidently deploy changes in production that won’t impact the business.

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Before DevOps, the production DBA would be the recipient of any changes that development created and shared and would then have to figure out if the changes would cause the application to break, despite not having insight.

In the new DevOps culture, the development and operations teams, and other functions, collaborate from the beginning and share plans, changes and updates to move them through the pipeline faster. Barriers and silos between the various functional groups are removed and updates occur more quickly and accurately, giving IT teams the ability – and confidence – to support the business more efficiently.

The days of siloed database teams and processes are dwindling and DevOps has become the new reality. The more interconnected development, testing, QA, UAT, and operations teams are, the more effective IT can be. While some may believe that it’s too time-consuming or expensive to make the shift, the reality is that those who don’t convert to DevOps will fall behind.

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