Welcome!

Related Topics: @DevOpsSummit, Java IoT, Microservices Expo, Linux Containers, @CloudExpo, @BigDataExpo

@DevOpsSummit: Article

The DevOps Database | Part 4

A culture of continual experimentation and learning

In the final post in this series about bringing DevOps patterns to database change management, we’re going to discuss the Third Way.  Here’s a refresher on the Third Way from the introductory post in this series:

The Third Way: Culture of Continual Experimentation & Learning – This way emphasizes the benefits that can be realized through embracing experimentation, risk-taking, and learning from failure.  By adopting this kind of attitude, experimentation and risk-taking lead to innovation and improvement while embracing failure allows the organization to produce more resilient products and sharpen skills that allow teams to recover more quickly from unexpected failure when it does occur.

The Third Way is by far the most intriguing of the “The Ways” to me.  I’ve spent the lion’s share of my career in early stage start-ups where cycles of experimentation, learning, and failure are the norm.  When bringing a new product or service to market, your latest release is never your last.  It may not even be the last release this week.  You are constantly experimenting with new workflows and technology, learning about your target market, and getting more valuable information from your early failures than your early successes.  The Third Way is crucial to the success of an early stage company.

While the benefits of the Third Way still apply to more established companies and product lines, practicing it becomes more difficult.  The potential negatives of experimentation and risk-taking are much harder to stomach when you have a large base of paying customers with SLAs. This aversion to risk is most acute when you’re talking about your data platform where outages, performance problems and data loss are not an option. Complicating matters further is how difficult it can be to unwind the database changes that were affected to support a specific version of your app.  Application code can usually be uninstalled and replaced with the previous working version fairly simply should problems arise. Reverting the database changes that support that version of the application is more akin to defusing a bomb.  Database changes must be reverted delicately and meticulously to avoid errors and omissions that could negatively impact your data platform.

What DBAs and release managers need to facilitate experimentation and risk taking on the data platform is a special combination of tools and process.  This combination should make it easy to identify the root cause of issues, quickly remediate problems caused by application schema structure, and revert to a previous version of the schema safely.  When we started Datical, we spent several hours in conversation and at white boards exploring these unique needs and hammering out a path to usher the Third Way into regular database activity.

A Rollback Designed With Every Change
The biggest problem with experimentation in the data platform is how difficult it is to move backward and forward through your schema’s version history.  We feel the best way to bring more flexibility to the process of upgrading and reverting schema is an attitude shift.  Your rollback strategy for each database change must become as important as the change itself.  The best time to craft your rollback strategy is when the change itself is being designed.  When the motivation for the change is fresh in your mind and the dependencies of the object being created, dropped or altered are clearly mapped out, a developer or DBA can better craft a rollback strategy for which every contingency has been considered.  This leads to a stronger safety net and makes your application schema as agile and easily managed as your application code. The database is no longer preventing you from being bold but quickly and safely moving between versions to accommodate experimentation.

The Richness of Model Based Comparison & Remediation
I’m a native Texan, born and raised in Austin.  I know the jokes about how proud and vocal Texans can be about their home state.  That being said, I spend more time telling people about the model based approach Datical has applied to Database Change Management than I do telling them how wonderful it is that I was fortunate enough to be born in the best state in the country.  The advantages of the model based approach really shine through when it comes to experimentation and troubleshooting.  The model allows you to annotate all objects and modifications to your application’s schema with the business reason that prompted them.  This detailed history is invaluable when designing new changes or refactoring your schema as part of an experimental exercise.  You immediately know what objects are most crucial, what your dependencies are, what areas you need to tread lightly in, and what areas are ripe for experimentation due to the changing needs of your business.  Designing intelligently eliminates risk.

Troubleshooting with models is also dramatically faster and more reliable than other methods. Programmatically comparing models allows you to determine the differences between two databases much more quickly than manually comparing diagrams or SQL scripts.  You know with certainty exactly what has changed and what is missing in a fraction of the time that human review takes.

Once you have identified the differences, remediation is as simple plugging one, some or all of the determined differences into the model and deploying those changes to the non-compliant instance.

Flexible Quick Rollback
If you’ve taken our advice to implement your rollback strategy when you implement a change, recovering from disaster becomes testable, fast, and simple.  Before going to production or a sensitive environment, you should always test your rollback steps in dev, test and staging.  This will allow you to make any tweaks or changes to your rollback strategy before you are in a pinch.  Think of it like testing your smoke alarm.  Hopefully you’ll never need it, but it’s nice to know that it’ll work if you do.

Let’s say the worst happens. You deploy a new set of database changes and the application performance degrades or errors are logged.  The decision is made to revert the entire installation to the previous version.  Because you have carefully designed, tested and refined your rollback strategy, rolling back the database changes becomes a push button operation or a single invocation of a command line tool.  No more running disparate SQL scripts or undoing changes on the fly.  You can be confident that your database has been returned to the same state it was in before the upgrade.

Summary
The database has long been handled with kid gloves and for good reason.  Data is a precious resource for consumers and businesses.  Consumers provide data to businesses and trust that it will be kept safe and used to offer them better products and services.  Businesses rely on data to strategize, grow, and become more efficient and profitable.  It is the lifeblood of our economy.  As our ability to collect and process data becomes greater and greater, the rate at which an enterprise must move on what is learned from that data becomes linearly faster.  Data must be kept safe, but the database must become more agile to accommodate the growing pressure for faster value realization of business intelligence initiatives.  DevOps patterns hold the key to this necessary agility while maintaining or improving the security and integrity of data stores.  The database and DBAs need to be brought into the application design process earlier and must be treated as the first class stakeholder and commodity that they are. Companies that acknowledge this and move to adopt DevOps patterns and include their database teams will be at a distinct competitive advantage to those that don’t.  Don’t miss the boat!

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
19th Cloud Expo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Meanwhile, 94% of enterpri...
Using new techniques of information modeling, indexing, and processing, new cloud-based systems can support cloud-based workloads previously not possible for high-throughput insurance, banking, and case-based applications. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, John Newton, CTO, Founder and Chairman of Alfresco, described how to scale cloud-based content management repositories to store, manage, and retrieve billions of documents and related information with fast and linear scalability. He addres...
Akana has announced the availability of version 8 of its API Management solution. The Akana Platform provides an end-to-end API Management solution for designing, implementing, securing, managing, monitoring, and publishing APIs. It is available as a SaaS platform, on-premises, and as a hybrid deployment. Version 8 introduces a lot of new functionality, all aimed at offering customers the richest API Management capabilities in a way that is easier than ever for API and app developers to use.
Personalization has long been the holy grail of marketing. Simply stated, communicate the most relevant offer to the right person and you will increase sales. To achieve this, you must understand the individual. Consequently, digital marketers developed many ways to gather and leverage customer information to deliver targeted experiences. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Lou Casal, Founder and Principal Consultant at Practicala, discussed how the Internet of Things (IoT) has accelerated our abil...
Kubernetes, Docker and containers are changing the world, and how companies are deploying their software and running their infrastructure. With the shift in how applications are built and deployed, new challenges must be solved. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at19th Cloud Expo, Sebastian Scheele, co-founder of Loodse, will discuss the implications of containerized applications/infrastructures and their impact on the enterprise. In a real world example based on Kubernetes, he will show how to ...
With so much going on in this space you could be forgiven for thinking you were always working with yesterday’s technologies. So much change, so quickly. What do you do if you have to build a solution from the ground up that is expected to live in the field for at least 5-10 years? This is the challenge we faced when we looked to refresh our existing 10-year-old custom hardware stack to measure the fullness of trash cans and compactors.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Isomorphic Software will exhibit at DevOps Summit at 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Isomorphic Software provides the SmartClient HTML5/AJAX platform, the most advanced technology for building rich, cutting-edge enterprise web applications for desktop and mobile. SmartClient combines the productivity and performance of traditional desktop software with the simp...
The emerging Internet of Everything creates tremendous new opportunities for customer engagement and business model innovation. However, enterprises must overcome a number of critical challenges to bring these new solutions to market. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Michael Martin, CTO/CIO at nfrastructure, outlined these key challenges and recommended approaches for overcoming them to achieve speed and agility in the design, development and implementation of Internet of Everything solutions wi...
Cloud computing is being adopted in one form or another by 94% of enterprises today. Tens of billions of new devices are being connected to The Internet of Things. And Big Data is driving this bus. An exponential increase is expected in the amount of information being processed, managed, analyzed, and acted upon by enterprise IT. This amazing is not part of some distant future - it is happening today. One report shows a 650% increase in enterprise data by 2020. Other estimates are even higher....
I wanted to gather all of my Internet of Things (IOT) blogs into a single blog (that I could later use with my University of San Francisco (USF) Big Data “MBA” course). However as I started to pull these blogs together, I realized that my IOT discussion lacked a vision; it lacked an end point towards which an organization could drive their IOT envisioning, proof of value, app dev, data engineering and data science efforts. And I think that the IOT end point is really quite simple…
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 19th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. 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 - comp...
Qosmos has announced new milestones in the detection of encrypted traffic and in protocol signature coverage. Qosmos latest software can accurately classify traffic encrypted with SSL/TLS (e.g., Google, Facebook, WhatsApp), P2P traffic (e.g., BitTorrent, MuTorrent, Vuze), and Skype, while preserving the privacy of communication content. These new classification techniques mean that traffic optimization, policy enforcement, and user experience are largely unaffected by encryption. In respect wit...
"My role is working with customers, helping them go through this digital transformation. I spend a lot of time talking to banks, big industries, manufacturers working through how they are integrating and transforming their IT platforms and moving them forward," explained William Morrish, General Manager Product Sales at Interoute, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with the 19th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world and ThingsExpo Silicon Valley Call for Papers is now open.
To leverage Continuous Delivery, enterprises must consider impacts that span functional silos, as well as applications that touch older, slower moving components. Managing the many dependencies can cause slowdowns. See how to achieve continuous delivery in the enterprise.