Just as managing application code is a routine part of software development, so is managing the database schema. Yet, in many organizations today, database development and deployment are still done manually, placing it outside of the DevOps cycle. This causes database development to become a highly manual and time-consuming task on the outskirts of the infrastructure-as-code movement.

Database Infrastructure as Code solves these issues by creating a database version control system and automating database schema provisioning, making database development an integral part of the CI/CD cycle.

What is Database as Code?

Put simply, Database as Code (or Database Infrastructure as Code) is the practice of treating database structure, objects, and data as a versioned asset that you can deploy in an automated process, just like application code. It enables database development to be completely managed through source and version control systems, making it part of the continuous delivery and deployment.

Database as Code approach leverages the key DevOps principles, such as version control, reuse, and automation – all applied to database structure and content.

How Does Database as Code Work?

Instead of directly connecting to the database to make DDL changes, or submitting a DDL ticket for a DBA review and approval, database schemas are managed through a version control system such as Git.

When schema change is required, developers create new schema migration files containing the required DDL statements, and submit the file for review. After approval, the change is automatically applied to the database.

Database administrators can use database source code management tools, which provide a systematic way to track database changes over time.

This process helps database development to become an integral part of DevOps and enables database teams to leverage the same automation and version control tools already used by software developers.

The Main Benefits of Database as Code

Now that we have a better understanding of Database Infrastructure as Code, here are five benefits it can bring to software development:

1. Improved database version control and traceability

Database schema and database change scripts are now treated as code and managed just like application source files in version control systems such as Git or SVN, enabling database object tracking, database object history, and auditability. This means database schema change reviews can be done more efficiently, with Database Schema as Code being tracked just as easily as application code.

Database as Code gives database schemas a full audit trail, allowing developers to easily track changes over time and roll back to a previous state. Rolling back changes is invaluable as it can help you pinpoint where exactly a database issue was introduced, making database deployments much less risky.

In addition, defining database versions make database migrations easier and more reliable. A database migration file can be created once a database change is approved, and the migration will run automatically when the application or service is deployed.

Automated audits also help organizations meet regulatory compliance requirements related to database access control.

2. Streamlined database development workflow

By automating database provisioning and deployment, Database as Code simplifies database development and makes it part of the DevOps workflows. Automation eliminates manual processes, ensuring database schema changes follow the same version control process as application code with database schema changes applied automatically to database instances.

Since Database Schema as Code migration files are applied in the same way as any other code changes, the database deployments can be done with a single command, making it much easier to manage and deploy.

As a result, developers spend less time dealing with database-related tasks such as setting up database tables or writing database scripts, allowing them to focus more on developing application code and boosting developer productivity.

By allowing developers to treat database changes the same way they would application code, Database as Code significantly accelerates the database development cycle.

3. Improved collaboration & consistency

Database as Code helps standardize database configuration and database development processes across teams and organizations, making database deployments consistent and reliable.

By automating database development, DBAs can save time on routine tasks and focus more of their efforts on database optimization and performance tuning. Eliminating tedious manual tasks ensures that database changes are deployed much faster and more securely.

Database as Code allows developers to collaborate with DBAs on database schema changes and encourages peer review of database changes. Improved communication helps catch issues and errors prior to database deployment, which can save time and effort in the long run.

It also helps ensure database consistency across environments since database changes will be applied from a single source of truth (the database version control system).

Applying database changes manually across different database instances often creates issues.

Since database changes can be stored as code in SQL files and versioned, they can be reused across multiple database instances or environments. Reusing schemas eliminates the need to repeatedly code the same database changes and ensures consistency and accuracy, as the same change can be applied consistently to multiple environments.

4. Reduced Risk

With Database as Code, database history is tracked and audited automatically, providing insight into the database development process and documentation of all database changes over time.

Since Database Infrastructure as Code provides a single source of truth, it makes it much easier to keep multiple database environments in sync. All database changes can be applied to the different database instances directly from database version control, ensuring that all database environments have the same data.

By utilizing automated database deployment tools, Database as Code helps reduce the risk of introducing errors during database deployments. Since all database changes are tracked in version control, any issues can be easily identified quickly and reverted if needed.

5. Leverage The Benefits of Automation

Database changes can now be deployed quickly with minimal manual intervention, eliminating database configuration drift and reducing the risk introduced when manually deploying database changes.

In addition, working with Database as Code improves the reliability of database changes by streamlining the process and allowing for more rigorous review and testing before release.

Database as Code allows database administrators to control who can make database schema changes, enabling access only to those with appropriate permissions. To reduce the risk of unauthorized database modifications, organizations need to pay attention to tooling and workflows around DB change approvals.

The bottom line

Database as Code provides many advantages for development teams, making database deployment easier, faster, and more reliable.

Database Infrastructure as Code approach aligns the database with the Continuous Integration (CI) and Continuous Delivery (CD) workflows, allowing developers to apply the same principles used for application code to database changes.

  • All database changes are scripted and automated, making them easier to manage.
  • Databases under version control can be easily restored if something goes wrong.
  • The ability to release on demand allows for a quicker turnaround time.
  • DBAs can work closely with Dev and Ops to avoid potential issues.
  • Ensure database consistency across development, testing, and production environments
  • Reduce database deployment times, errors, and risks.

By treating Database Schema as Code and taking changes into version control, Database as Code helps increase the overall quality of software applications and helps database teams to keep up with the fast-paced development cycle, accelerate software releases, and reduce time to market.