According to LinkedIn, “DevOps Engineer” is the #1 most sought job by companies in 2022, but let’s consider why. Those roles are in high demand because of consumers’ insatiable appetite for browser based and mobile apps.

This explosive demand could only be assuaged by the adoption of cloud-based DevOps and agile methodologies used by DevOps engineers. The new velocity of deployment meant that innovation could no longer wait for traditional waterfall approaches to software development, where each stage of development must wait for its predecessor. These new DevOps processes not only greatly accelerated the development pace, but also improved the quality of code releases as well as collaboration between teams.

It’s difficult to grasp the magnitude of change over the course of just a decade. Consider three companies’ examples, occurring over the course of a few months:

  • From one database release every 3 weeks to 2,400 releases per month
  • From 4 hours per database release to 60 releases per day, fully automated
  • From 6 days to 15 minutes per deployment

Some have attempted to compare this new, disruptive technology to the automobile revolution at the turn of the 20th century, where over the course of 13 years, a majority of Americans moved from horse and carriage to the automobile (see figure 1).

Figure 1. On the left, in 1900, one automobile is circled in red on 5th Avenue in Manhattan. On the same street, thirteen years later, one horse carriage is circled in red.

But that comparison doesn’t do the software development revolution justice. A comparable metaphor would be more like moving from horse-and-carriage to breaking the sound barrier – within ten years.

Now let’s consider the database. While automated software deployments are seemingly moving at the speed of light, DevOps database deployment and releases are often still relegated to manual releases.

Just as early adopters of automation releases set the stage for the rapid software advancement, great business performance today is tightly aligned with how database DevOps tools (and the resulting, superior DevOps data management) measure up to these software advancements. And, while not all software releases are database related, the releases that are related to the database are often mired down by manual database release processes, which have no prayer of keeping pace with automated software deployment tools.

Data pipelines necessarily MUST evolve with companies’ other technological advances

To get a sense for how the two go hand-in-hand, let’s revisit our earlier example at the turn of the 20th century. In the year 1900, there were approximately 3.8 million people in New York City. Thirteen years later, that population had nearly doubled. Now try to imagine New York City growing at that rate, yet existing on the same infrastructure. It wouldn’t have been possible. With the population boom, came a construction boom. With every new building, came a new water tower and a new water line. Just as the residents needed water, the availability of data – secure, safe and quickly – is a must in the world of database DevOps.

The large size of software development teams (especially contrasted against the typically smaller size of database teams) meant that version control and DevOps tools were necessities. But the fact that the number of developers dwarf the number of database administrators shouldn’t mean that database teams haven’t the same need for source control and DevOps automation. To the contrary, database releases are often more complicated and error-prone, causing more issues. Database DevOps tools should be considered necessities.

For years, the DevOps culture has been focused primarily on application code and infrastructure layers. But today there are tools for database teams to similarly increase productivity and accelerate releases. There are self-service tools for DevOps teams to automate, secure and govern database CI/CD pipelines, enabling them to:

  • Boost deployment frequency and speed
  • Ensure successful releases every time
  • Leverage existing tools they already know (e.g. Jenkins, Jira)

Similarly, it’s possible to enhance cross-team collaboration and ensure there is one source-of-truth for all database changes through source control for the database. Versioning of the database makes it simple, throughout all environments, for DBAs, DevOps and Devs to work cohesively together to accelerate release speed, while also improving quality. Source control for the database means not only enforcing change procedures and reducing application downtime (caused by database-related errors), but also saving time and energy by automatically generating and test database change scripts. Source control for the database does many things, but perhaps most importantly versioning:

  • Identifies conflicts at the outset
  • Merges different development branches
  • Provides visibility for who, where and when changes were made

In the final analysis, source control for the database means trading chaos for order, realizing more efficient productivity, and a reducing your time to market.

The marriage of version control and DevOps tools for the database have, finally, enabled the leveling up of the database side of deployments. Software architects have claimed that the simple insertion of source control for the database resulted in 95% fewer deployment errors. That could be an understatement.

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