Over the last few decades, DevOps has revolutionized digital and IT management. With a relatively simple premise of prioritizing cross-functional collaboration, shared responsibility, and automation, it balances the industry’s need for dynamic software development with client requirements for security and reliability. In other words, it enables businesses to continually release high-quality and secure code at a rate that still allows them to stay competitive.
That is not to say that DevOps has always been an all-encompassing approach. This is partly because the priorities of digital and IT management have evolved alongside DevOps, with organizations now placing far more importance on elements like security than they did years ago. Another reason is that it is only relatively recently that the logic behind DevOps has been applied to certain areas in typical development and operations pipelines.
A recent take on the approach is ‘Database DevOps’, a version that applies the basic principles of DevOps to database administration management. Traditionally, any database changes are done manually towards the end of the development and operations pipeline. This can create a significant bottleneck holding up the deployment of new code while also forcing database administrators to work horrific hours to avoid hampering value-generating services.
Database DevOps takes this situation and remodels it to suit DevOps cultures. Manual work is largely replaced with automated processes driven by open-source DevOps tools designed specifically for database work. This not only frees up a great amount of time but also makes the results more reliable, as there is less room for human error.
Some have said that Database DevOps endangers the roles of database administrators, though this is hardly the case. In reality, Database DevOps frees them from needlessly drawn-out manual tasks, allowing them to focus their skills elsewhere. This can include improving existing team practices, integrating new tools, and so on. As everything shifts left, they will have more power to establish new and shared ways of doing things alongside developers.
Until recently, the absence of DevOps tools focused specifically on database administration work has prevented ‘Database DevOps’ from becoming too widespread. Luckily, there are now several tools that can help this work occur earlier and continuously.
Some of the most popular database tools for DevOps cultures include:
Database DevOps tools are applied for the sake of:
- Efficient storage of database code, along with details on the time and environment it was created in
- Proactive, automated, and ongoing testing that powers continuous delivery
- Consistent focus on small-scale deployments
How can I use Database DevOps in my business?
As with any form of DevOps, it is important to realize that Database DevOps doesn’t exactly come with a roadmap. Rather, it is a way of doing things that can take different forms depending on the team, department, or organization it is applied to. In other words, if you want to benefit from Database DevOps, it is important to have someone on hand who understands DevOps.
In the case of Database DevOps, this will most likely be someone with the experience and skills of a database administrator who has also studied DevOps management. This may well involve investing in DevOps training for your current administrators. Alternatively, you may want to work with a DevOps Leader who is familiar enough with database administration to combine it with the DevOps approach.
Remember, a ‘DevOps engineer’ can have a multitude of different skills and backgrounds. What connects them is that they all operate within DevOps cultures that have certain points of focus and ways of working. Database DevOps is no different, and a DevOps engineer with the abilities of a database administrator should have no trouble applying Database DevOps in a way that integrates the most appropriate tools, gels perfectly with other elements of the delivery pipeline, and, ultimately, helps to generate value for end-users.
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