SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Maria C. Horton, Andy Thurai, Zakia Bouachraoui

Blog Feed Post

Using DBaaS to Align Database Management with Your Application Delivery Processes


Today’s application development teams are moving fast, but is your team being held back by slow database management practices and tools? For many organizations, this is a significant problem that deserves as much attention as getting application code changes flowing smoothly into production. In fact, they are tightly interdependent challenges that need to be solved together.

Your Database Environment: Perception vs. Reality

Your Database Environment: Perception vs. Reality

Think about the application development process for a moment. How long does it take you to stand up a new copy of your database? Are you sure you have configured everything correctly and consistently? Do your developers and testers have access to production data for realistic testing? For most organizations, it’s unlikely that the answer to these questions are “minutes”, “very certain”, and “yes”.

It’s also critical to embrace the distributed and multi-instance nature of your organization’s data landscape. Gone are the days of a single, large and controlled database that sits underneath all of your applications. Even in a single application team, it’s a fairly universal truth that you will have multiple environments. From individual developer sandboxes, to integration and test infrastructure, and through to production clusters (and even DR copies), we aren’t really working with a single monolithic database environment. Each one of these environments means a new deployment of your database configuration.

Mapping Database Management to Application Delivery Processes

Data is different from code. Data represents the persistent state of your application, yet dynamically changes and grows as the application is used. Code, on the other hand, is much more of a static entity that can be versioned cleanly and deployed through configuration management tools. Many advanced approaches and tools have been developed to manage configuration drift, and ensuring that the code that is expected to be deployed is, in fact, the code deployed is now easier than ever. It’s the dynamic nature of data that makes managing it different from code deployments.

So what can you do about this difference? First, understand that there are aspects of your database environment that can be managed in a similar way as code and configuration. They fall into two buckets: the definition (configuration) of the database system itself and the definition of the schema / database code. Next, think about how the data being generated by your production application can be re-purposed efficiently for testing both new versions of your applications and the processes you will use to deploy your applications.

One great example of these concepts rolled into a consistent line of thinking is the work of Martin Fowler and Pramod Sadalage on Evolutionary Database Design. Evolutionary Database Design is a methodology for ensuring that your database environment is able to adapt and evolve along with your application. It advocates several specific approaches to ensuring that the database layer is an integral part of the entire application delivery pipeline.

While the Evolutionary Database Design pattern is certainly only one of many approaches to take, it’s well thought through and worth reviewing to find some key themes:

  1. Database instances need to be (re)generated on-demand – Development, integration, test, staging, and production environments should be consistent.
  2. Database schemas should be defined as “refactorings” – Your schema should be created by series of evolutionary migrations from one version to the next.
  3. Actual data matters – Use test data for earlier on in the application’s lifetime, but be prepared to use copies of production data later.

How does DBaaS Fit?

A Database-as-a-Service (DBaaS) platform can play a large role in how you advance your application delivery processes. Specifically, DBaaS can address two of the three themes from above: instance creation and data portability.

Instance creation is perhaps the easiest to comprehend, because that’s what most DBaaS solutions are solving at their core. Think about the definition of your database environment as configuration metadata (or a blueprint), which when used to deploy a new database instance from a DBaaS platform should result in a consistent database engine deployment for each instantiation. It shouldn’t matter if the environment’s specification is as simple as a single node or as complex as a multi tier cluster configured for sharding, it should be just as easy to get a new environment online.

The second role that a DBaaS platform can play is in helping to move the data itself around in the application lifecycle process. It should support operations like replica creation and database cloning, again via a self service UI and with APIs. These two functions are often though about as “operational” considerations for a database environment, but if you think about the whole application development system, they can become surprisingly useful to the entire team.

First, let’s define them:

Moving Data and DB Config through the Application Lifecycle

Moving Data and DB Config through the Application Lifecycle

  • Cloning is when a snapshot of the database system is created, and then transferred into a new “instance”. It’s a point in time copy created on-demand.
  • Replication is the synchronous or asynchronous replay of database changes against a “copy” of the database, which can then be detached from the “master” database to operate as a standalone system.

Both of these features offer a similar end result: you get a copy of the database that you can use for other purposes. Cloning takes a bit longer, but can easily happen off hours to minimize impact on the production environment. Replication can ensure a much faster “turn up” of the new environment with up-to-date data, but needs to be created ahead of the request for an instance. Regardless of the differences, they both provide a foundation with which each developer, tester and release manager can easily get a version of the production database when it’s needed.

Think about that in the context of bug-fixing: All too frequently, developers are handed user reports of an issue that is hard to reproduce without having a copy of the production data in place to replicate the situation. If it was easy for a developer to instantiate their own copy of the production environment (on demand) from a clone created each night, all of a sudden that developer will be able to resolve the bug much more effectively. Not only that, but the testing process will be able to ensure that the proposed patch does, in fact, solve the problem with real-world data as input.


You can move the code easily, but data and databases are a much harder a challenge without the right tools. A well designed Database-as-a-Service (DBaaS) environment can play a key role in helping you be more nimble in your treatment of data services within your application development pipeline. A DBaaS should offers solutions to both the “course grained” configuration management / automation challenges of the database engines themselves and the need to have self service access to copies of the dynamic data that your applications generate.

The right DBaaS solution should give you:

  • Self service access new DB instances for your development and testing teams
  • Move database engine configurations through the application development pipeline
  • Easily pull data back into staging, test and dev environments to give your teams access to real-world data
  • Support production rollout of application releases through replication and / or database cloning
  • APIs to make these operations an integral part of your continual integration and deployment processes

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Bob Gourley

Bob Gourley writes on enterprise IT. He is a founder of Crucial Point and publisher of

Latest Stories
The Software Defined Data Center (SDDC), which enables organizations to seamlessly run in a hybrid cloud model (public + private cloud), is here to stay. IDC estimates that the software-defined networking market will be valued at $3.7 billion by 2016. Security is a key component and benefit of the SDDC, and offers an opportunity to build security 'from the ground up' and weave it into the environment from day one. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Reuven Harrison, CTO and Co-Founder of Tufin, ...
Historically, some banking activities such as trading have been relying heavily on analytics and cutting edge algorithmic tools. The coming of age of powerful data analytics solutions combined with the development of intelligent algorithms have created new opportunities for financial institutions. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Sebastien Meunier, Head of Digital for North America at Chappuis Halder & Co., discussed how these tools can be leveraged to develop a lasting competitive advantage ...
While the focus and objectives of IoT initiatives are many and diverse, they all share a few common attributes, and one of those is the network. Commonly, that network includes the Internet, over which there isn't any real control for performance and availability. Or is there? The current state of the art for Big Data analytics, as applied to network telemetry, offers new opportunities for improving and assuring operational integrity. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jim Frey, Vice President of S...
"We were founded in 2003 and the way we were founded was about good backup and good disaster recovery for our clients, and for the last 20 years we've been pretty consistent with that," noted Marc Malafronte, Territory Manager at StorageCraft, in this interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
DevOps is often described as a combination of technology and culture. Without both, DevOps isn't complete. However, applying the culture to outdated technology is a recipe for disaster; as response times grow and connections between teams are delayed by technology, the culture will die. A Nutanix Enterprise Cloud has many benefits that provide the needed base for a true DevOps paradigm. In their Day 3 Keynote at 20th Cloud Expo, Chris Brown, a Solutions Marketing Manager at Nutanix, and Mark Lav...
In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, provided an overview of the evolution of the Internet and the Database and the future of their combination – the Blockchain. Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life settl...
"At the keynote this morning we spoke about the value proposition of Nutanix, of having a DevOps culture and a mindset, and the business outcomes of achieving agility and scale, which everybody here is trying to accomplish," noted Mark Lavi, DevOps Solution Architect at Nutanix, in this interview at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
According to the IDC InfoBrief, Sponsored by Nutanix, “Surviving and Thriving in a Multi-cloud World,” multicloud deployments are now the norm for enterprise organizations – less than 30% of customers report using single cloud environments. Most customers leverage different cloud platforms across multiple service providers. The interoperability of data and applications between these varied cloud environments is growing in importance and yet access to hybrid cloud capabilities where a single appl...
@CloudEXPO and @ExpoDX, two of the most influential technology events in the world, have hosted hundreds of sponsors and exhibitors since our launch 10 years ago. @CloudEXPO and @ExpoDX New York and Silicon Valley provide a full year of face-to-face marketing opportunities for your company. Each sponsorship and exhibit package comes with pre and post-show marketing programs. By sponsoring and exhibiting in New York and Silicon Valley, you reach a full complement of decision makers and buyers in ...
In today's always-on world, customer expectations have changed. Competitive differentiation is delivered through rapid software innovations, the ability to respond to issues quickly and by releasing high-quality code with minimal interruptions. DevOps isn't some far off goal; it's methodologies and practices are a response to this demand. The demand to go faster. The demand for more uptime. The demand to innovate. In this keynote, we will cover the Nutanix Developer Stack. Built from the foundat...
"Cloud computing is certainly changing how people consume storage, how they use it, and what they use it for. It's also making people rethink how they architect their environment," stated Brad Winett, Senior Technologist for DDN Storage, in this interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Sold by Nutanix, Nutanix Mine with Veeam can be deployed in minutes and simplifies the full lifecycle of data backup operations, including on-going management, scaling and troubleshooting. The offering combines highly-efficient storage working in concert with Veeam Backup and Replication, helping customers achieve comprehensive data protection for all their workloads — virtual, physical and private cloud —to meet increasing business demands for uptime and productivity.
Two weeks ago (November 3-5), I attended the Cloud Expo Silicon Valley as a speaker, where I presented on the security and privacy due diligence requirements for cloud solutions. Cloud security is a topical issue for every CIO, CISO, and technology buyer. Decision-makers are always looking for insights on how to mitigate the security risks of implementing and using cloud solutions. Based on the presentation topics covered at the conference, as well as the general discussions heard between sessio...
"NetApp's vision is how we help organizations manage data - delivering the right data in the right place, in the right time, to the people who need it, and doing it agnostic to what the platform is," explained Josh Atwell, Developer Advocate for NetApp, in this interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
A look across the tech landscape at the disruptive technologies that are increasing in prominence and speculate as to which will be most impactful for communications – namely, AI and Cloud Computing. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Curtis Peterson, VP of Operations at RingCentral, highlighted the current challenges of these transformative technologies and shared strategies for preparing your organization for these changes. This “view from the top” outlined the latest trends and developments i...