SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Carmen Gonzalez, Yeshim Deniz, Sean Houghton, Glenn Rossman, Ignacio M. Llorente

Related Topics: DevOps Journal, Java, Virtualization, Cloud Expo, Big Data Journal, SDN Journal

DevOps Journal: Article

The DevOps Database | Part 2

Applying Systems Thinking to Database Change Management

In my first post in this series, I discussed the underpinning principles of all DevOps patterns as eloquently stated by Gene Kim, author of "The Phoenix Project."  In this post I'd like to dig a little deeper into The First Way.  As a refresher:

The First Way: Systems Thinking - This Way stresses the performance of the entire system of value delivery.  Instead of becoming laser focused on the part of the process for which an individual or team is responsible, the individual or team works to understand the entire process from requirements generation to customer delivery.  The goal is to eliminate the delivery impediments that arise when a project transitions from one isolated silo to another.  Understanding the entire system allows business, development, and operations to work towards a common goal in a consistent manner.

When we started Datical, our first step was to perform extensive market validation.  We quickly learned that database schema management was going to be tough nut to crack. In the scores of conversations we had with people throughout the ALM spectrum, we learned that the process for managing and updating the database schema that supports an application was at best murky and at worst a black box.  So how do we elevate a process owned and understood by a few people in an organization to the level of visibility required to understand that process as part of a larger system?

What follows is a list of concepts pertaining to System Thinking that we've rallied around in providing our database change management solution Datical DB. Instead of the black box, database change management can become a transparent and flexible part of your value delivery system.

Start With Reality
When beginning a new project based on previous development, don't rely on a stack of SQL scripts on a file server or even in a source code control system. As you know, databases evolve over time and sometimes out of process changes happen.  When a database schema is modified to resolve an error condition or performance degradation, these alterations are usually handled in a support ticketing system.  You can never be certain that they were added to the stack of scripts used to build out a fresh environment.  In light of this, any database change management solution should start by generating a baseline from the working system: your production schema.  This ensures that design and development activity are taking into account not only those schema objects generated in Dev, but also those which originated in other stops in the system.

Don't Script! Model!
To keep this blog post short(er) I'll point you now to a blog post I wrote a few months ago on modelling vs. scripting.

Version Twice, Deploy Once
The first level of versioning any database change management tool should provide is versioning of the gold standard. Versioning the scripts or model that you use to build a fresh database instance for your application provides a ton of benefits.  You can track how your schema has evolved over time and across releases, you can tightly couple a schema definition to the version of the application it supports using the same branch/tag/merge workflow that you use for your application code, and you can quickly stand up a new database instance that you know is correct for any released version or experimental branch you are working in.  The second level of versioning takes place in each database instance.  Tracking the version of the schema deployed on a specific instance makes deployment and troubleshooting much easier.  Will this application build work with the schema on this instance?  What changes need to be applied to this database to catch it up to the latest version?  Were the right changes applied to this test database to validate a closed defect?  If you are tracking the individual changes applied in a database and the impetus for those changes, these questions can be answered quickly and easily.

Unify Your Modes of Delivery
We've found that a lot of uncertainty was generated when database updates were handled by several individuals using their own tools and methods to affect the required changes.  To remove this uncertainty, all database change must be executed using the same tools and processes across departments and individuals.   The tricky part: a continuous integration system has different requirements than a developer working iteratively or a DBA processing a batch of changes in a headless environment during a maintenance window.  In order to unify your database change process, the solution you use should be accessible to all of these individuals while maintaining the consistency of deployment activities.  That's why Datical DB provides a rich GUI experience for developers that helps them craft & deploy changes in dev environments; tight integrations with popular build and release automation frameworks that preserve the frameworks' workflows while providing Datical DB functionality; and a command line interface that allows users in headless environments to deploy changes in the exact same manner that the GUI or a 3rd-party integration would.  By unifying the modes of delivery you are constantly testing your release practices. By the time the production push rolls around, your system works.

More Stories By Pete Pickerill

Pete Pickerill is Vice President of Products and Co-founder of Datical. Pete is a software industry veteran who has built his career in Austin’s technology sector. Prior to co-founding Datical, he was employee number one at Phurnace Software and helped lead the company to a high profile acquisition by BMC Software, Inc. Pete has spent the majority of his career in successful startups and the companies that acquired them including Loop One (acquired by NeoPost Solutions), WholeSecurity (acquired by Symantec, Inc.) and Phurnace Software.

Latest Stories
The security devil is always in the details of the attack: the ones you've endured, the ones you prepare yourself to fend off, and the ones that, you fear, will catch you completely unaware and defenseless. The Internet of Things (IoT) is nothing if not an endless proliferation of details. It's the vision of a world in which continuous Internet connectivity and addressability is embedded into a growing range of human artifacts, into the natural world, and even into our smartphones, appliances, a...
"SAP had made a big transition into the cloud as we believe it has significant value for our customers, drives innovation and is easy to consume. When you look at the SAP portfolio, SAP HANA is the underlying platform and it powers all of our platforms and all of our analytics," explained Thorsten Leiduck, VP ISVs & Digital Commerce at SAP, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 15th Cloud Expo, held Nov 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The 3rd International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that its Call for Papers is now open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
SAP is delivering break-through innovation combined with fantastic user experience powered by the market-leading in-memory technology, SAP HANA. In his General Session at 15th Cloud Expo, Thorsten Leiduck, VP ISVs & Digital Commerce, SAP, discussed how SAP and partners provide cloud and hybrid cloud solutions as well as real-time Big Data offerings that help companies of all sizes and industries run better. SAP launched an application challenge to award the most innovative SAP HANA and SAP HANA...
Connected devices and the Internet of Things are getting significant momentum in 2014. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Hunter, Chief Scientist & Technology Evangelist at Greenwave Systems, examined three key elements that together will drive mass adoption of the IoT before the end of 2015. The first element is the recent advent of robust open source protocols (like AllJoyn and WebRTC) that facilitate M2M communication. The second is broad availability of flexible, cost-effective ...
Scott Jenson leads a project called The Physical Web within the Chrome team at Google. Project members are working to take the scalability and openness of the web and use it to talk to the exponentially exploding range of smart devices. Nearly every company today working on the IoT comes up with the same basic solution: use my server and you'll be fine. But if we really believe there will be trillions of these devices, that just can't scale. We need a system that is open a scalable and by using ...
How do APIs and IoT relate? The answer is not as simple as merely adding an API on top of a dumb device, but rather about understanding the architectural patterns for implementing an IoT fabric. There are typically two or three trends: Exposing the device to a management framework Exposing that management framework to a business centric logic Exposing that business layer and data to end users. This last trend is the IoT stack, which involves a new shift in the separation of what stuff happe...
DevOps is all about agility. However, you don't want to be on a high-speed bus to nowhere. The right DevOps approach controls velocity with a tight feedback loop that not only consists of operational data but also incorporates business context. With a business context in the decision making, the right business priorities are incorporated, which results in a higher value creation. In his session at DevOps Summit, Todd Rader, Solutions Architect at AppDynamics, discussed key monitoring techniques...
The 3rd International @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that it is now accepting Keynote Proposals. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices - computers, smartphones, tablets, and sensors - connected to th...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Gridstore™, the leader in hyper-converged infrastructure purpose-built to optimize Microsoft workloads, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Gridstore™ is the leader in hyper-converged infrastructure purpose-built for Microsoft workloads and designed to accelerate applications in virtualized environments. Gridstore’s hyper-converged infrastructure is the ...
"There is a natural synchronization between the business models, the IoT is there to support ,” explained Brendan O'Brien, Co-founder and Chief Architect of Aria Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at the 15th International Cloud Expo®, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The 4th International DevOps Summit, co-located with16th International Cloud Expo – being held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY – announces that its Call for Papers is now open. Born out of proven success in agile development, cloud computing, and process automation, DevOps is a macro trend you cannot afford to miss. From showcase success stories from early adopters and web-scale businesses, DevOps is expanding to organizations of all sizes, including the world's large...
Fundamentally, SDN is still mostly about network plumbing. While plumbing may be useful to tinker with, what you can do with your plumbing is far more intriguing. A rigid interpretation of SDN confines it to Layers 2 and 3, and that's reasonable. But SDN opens opportunities for novel constructions in Layers 4 to 7 that solve real operational problems in data centers. "Data center," in fact, might become anachronistic - data is everywhere, constantly on the move, seemingly always overflowing. Net...
An entirely new security model is needed for the Internet of Things, or is it? Can we save some old and tested controls for this new and different environment? In his session at @ThingsExpo, New York's at the Javits Center, Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, reviewed hands-on lessons with IoT devices and reveal a new risk balance you might not expect. Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, has more than nineteen years' experience managing global security operations and asse...
SYS-CON Media announced that Centrify, a provider of unified identity management across cloud, mobile and data center environments that delivers single sign-on (SSO) for users and a simplified identity infrastructure for IT, has launched an ad campaign on Cloud Computing Journal. The ads focus on security: how an organization can successfully control privilege for all of the organization’s identities to mitigate identity-related risk without slowing down the business, and how Centrify provides ...