Making the Database Key to DevOps

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The speed of business today demands that the development and deployment of applications is fast-moving, with frequent yet error-free releases. That’s why the adoption of DevOps is trickling down from Amazon, Facebook, Google and the other usual suspects to every company that relies on technology to drive its communications or sales with users.

The database is now entering the picture, too, because when front-end applications are changed, there often needs to be a change at the back end to accommodate it. Redgate’s 2018 “State of Database DevOps Survey” found that more than one-third (35 percent) of organizations are deploying database changes either daily or more than once a week.

Some are working even faster, with companies such as online travel provider Skyscanner moving from releasing database changes once every six weeks to 95 times a day when it first introduced database DevOps—and increasing the frequency since.

This accelerated speed of delivery is a key benefit of database DevOps, with 28 percent of respondents to the DevOps survey quoting it as the biggest advantage. But as releases become more frequent, so, too, does the chance of something going wrong, along with the difficulty of pinpointing the exact cause in a large, complex, fast-changing environment.

Database DevOps Best Practices

Even with the most comprehensive testing, issues can occur. And as more and more developers now work across both the application and database, and with larger, more disparate teams, companies need the ability for everyone to drill down quickly to identify and fix issues.

Achieving this means bridging the database and application worlds by focusing on three key areas.

Deployment Choice

Different developers and database administrators will use specific tools to deploy database changes. This can depend on their experience, skills or simply that they have a preference for a particular way of working.

You need to be able to allow this choice, but without affecting the ability to track down issues. Therefore, ensure that you have a monitoring tool in place that can pinpoint not just when and where changes were made, but which tool was used. This will help quickly find the root causes of any issues, by providing the full context around the problem.

A Single View

Data is the lifeblood of many businesses—companies now have more and more databases within their organization, often spread across different locations. However, no matter how complex your IT environment or the size of your estate, you need to be able to monitor database performance from a single place. That way, you can easily identify issues and pinpoint precisely which database is being affected.

Wherever a database is, and whatever the distance it is being monitored from, the monitoring also needs to be in real time, with updates in seconds, not minutes, providing the reassurance that you always have the latest picture of what is occurring. This enables you to become more proactive, spotting developing trends and issues such as deadlocks or blocking processes, before they affect your users or overall performance. Having a single, up-to-date view is therefore essential when integrating the database into DevOps processes.

Fast, Customizable Alerts

The ability to make frequent, reliable, repeatable changes to the database as well as the application is integral to DevOps flows, and monitoring them means evaluating dozens of different parameters constantly.

Clearly, it’s impossible to keep an eye on everything that is happening, even when events are condensed to a single monitoring screen. Therefore, ensure you’re able to easily create and customize alerts for specific parameters that are important to your business, so that they don’t get missed. This enables you to better understand DevOps processes and ensure that you have early warnings of potential complications, no matter where they occur.

For the database to be an integral part of DevOps, organizations need a complete, interoperable view of their entire estate so  they can track down problems, monitor processes and spot issues before they affect users. That view should be equally available to the whole DevOps team, including developers, so they can see immediately what effect their latest change is having and take the appropriate action to fix any breaking change while it is still fresh in their mind.

Only then can databases take their key place in DevOps flows, eliminating bottlenecks and speeding up development to meet fast-changing business needs.

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