Unfortunately, Zero Downtime is something that many organizations are failing to achieve. Things like database migration and database changes are causing a wide range of technical and logistical problems that create bottlenecks in the DevOps pipeline. This article will look at the various issues and address them.

The Problem

It’s tough to believe, but the fact is that many companies are still not able to properly protect themselves against the costs of database downtime, which can become devastating in today’s torrid Covid-19 atmosphere. Database and software interruptions can bring entire businesses to a complete stop.

Instead of taking the hands-on-approach and tackling the problem, many companies today are calculating the cost of these downtimes and learning to live with them. But unfortunately, the damage goes beyond that. Brand damage and lower customer satisfaction levels are just a couple of them.

As per a comprehensive ITIC survey, 52% of respondents identified human error as the leading issue affecting database downtime in their organization. This can happen due to coding errors, misspellings, or accidental overrides that needlessly bring down systems during scheduled maintenance or new releases.

This can become a serious problem if you are trying to create a smooth DevOps pipeline, which as you know requires constant release and testing capabilities.

Did You Know?
80% of outages are due to human error and half of them occur during change configuration and release integration.


Blue Green Deployment

Blue Green deployment is a release methodology that transfers user traffic from a previous version of an app or microservice to a nearly identical new release, with both of them running simultaneously in production. The old version is typically the blue environment while the new version is the Green one.

Only one of the environments is live at any given time while serving all of your traffic. When the new version of your software is ready, deployment and the final stage of testing takes place in the Green environment. Once you have deployed and fully tested the new code, you switch the router to Green instead of Blue.

This is a popular approach that is allowing organizations to be more dynamic and embrace DevOps properly for faster and smoother iterations. In other words, this technique can minimize database downtimes that are caused by app deployment. Rollbacks are also easier to make due with this methodology.

But like with every methodology, Blue Green cannot address the various governance, security, and compliance challenges caused by remote work.

Release Automation to the Rescue

Modern release automation solutions are allowing organizations to completely eliminate database downtime issues, when done with Blue Green deployment.

Enhanced Visibility – This functionality can allow you to package, verify, deploy, and promote the database delivery pipeline. It’s now possible to catch errors and fix them on-the-go. You can now spot configuration drifts, conflicts, and other errors in your database before they go live and cause you headaches.

Besides the obvious benefits you gain for performing your daily tasks, the enhanced visibility and transparency allows all stakeholders in your organization to scrutinize the pipeline at all times, improve cross-department communication, and eventually achieve optimal quality standards.

Version Control – Hotfixes and versioning misalignment happen more often than not. These often lead to configuration drifts, which are especially hard to contain. With Release Automation, you can identify configuration drift instances that will potentially hamper your next release (there are many everyday).

You can now define and enforce version control best practices and change policy for your database development. These solutions essentially validate database changes against schemas and relevant content, while preventing unauthorized changes. All changes are properly logged and documented.

Security and Compliance – Automated governance solutions help you implement the Least Privilege Policy, which essentially means that all users and third-party apps get the least possible privileges required to get the job done. This is a very effective technique for achieving 24/7 database compliance.

DBAs and other responsible stakeholders can now use these solutions to create dynamic privacy rules to meet GDPR, HIPPA and SOX requirements. Only people with the right passwords and privileges can access the database. These permissions can also be revoked or modified via a centralized dashboard.

Final Words

Besides the big hard revenue loss caused by database downtime, the damage to reputation can be even more significant in today’s hyper-connected social media world where every malfunction or error is reported in real time. You need to have a proactive approach to try and achieve zero database downtime.

Yes. Small updates may require your system to be offline for a matter of minutes or seconds, but you can handle that. When a planned downtime has been set, administrators can schedule at a time that would be least disruptive or postpone it so that it doesn’t occur during peak season or when usage is high.

When it comes to DevOps related issues, you can now use best practices and release automation systems to achieve zero downtime database deployment.