Fundamentals of DevOps as it Relates to Your Database Team

DevOps can be seen as a step in the continued evolution of the software development process. The term can be defined as the union of people, processes, and technology to continually provide value to customers. One of the main tenets of DevOps is the elimination of silos in which an organization’s development, IT operations, quality engineering, and security teams operate. The end goal is the creation of a holistic approach to producing more reliable products in a shorter timeframe by melding the capabilities and talents of teams that previously worked in a more isolated fashion.

What is DevOps?

DevOps is a philosophy as opposed to a methodology such as object-oriented programming. While the concept has been around for about a decade, its importance is still merging and touching different teams within the IT environment, including database developers and administrators. It pertains to workflow management more than specific tools and procedures. Increasing the rapidity of development to improve an enterprise’s value stream is the ultimate endgame.

The three ways form an underlying philosophy of DevOps that focuses on the way code is disseminated from developers to operational staffs. It focuses on the dynamic between the groups as products flow from development to operations. Feedback from the operation team and constant experimentation by developers leads to rapidly evolving products that directly address the concerns of its users.

Cutting-edge organizations that have embraced DevOps are high performers who have achieved an advantage in market share, profitability, and productivity in comparison to companies working in a more traditional and siloed environment. Some characteristics of these enterprises are performing on-demand deployment multiple times per day with less than an hour lead time for changes flowing from development to production systems. They are also more agile and able to recover from outages in under an hour.

There are challenges posed when attempting to coordinate the sometimes opposing viewpoints of development and operations teams. Developers are concerned with things like adding new features and welcome change as an integral part of their role. Operations staff like consistent performance and are wary of changes that may break their current processes.

Why Are Database Professionals a Natural Fit for DevOps?

The role of an SQL Server administrator requires skills that fit in both the development and operational sphere. From an operational point of view, DBAs are responsible for things like:

  • Server configuration;
  • Server performance tuning;
  • Index maintenance;
  • Security;
  • Backups and restores.

They also need to possess qualities that pertain to the realm of developers such as:

  • Writing SQL queries;
  • Tuning code for enhanced performance;
  • Index analysis;
  • Reporting;
  • Data warehousing.

The diversity of skills employed by SQL Server DBAs forms a link between development and operations. The data they manage is at the heart of an organization’s value stream. Improving this stream is the impetus behind DevOps.

CALMS

In a metaphor that defines a model that drives DevOps. It addresses the following domains.

Culture addresses the importance of getting everyone involved in the value stream working together toward common goals. Understanding the role played by specific teams and individuals in providing value to the customer is critical to furthering the DevOps philosophy. Disseminating knowledge throughout the organization helps spur innovation.

Automation is the goal of eliminating thoughtless and repetitive tasks. It involves a cycle of continuous integration and deployment and tools that can automate software builds. Configuration management and job scheduling are areas that facilitate automation. 

Lean management strives to optimize efficiency and minimize waste in the development process. Uniform workflow interfaces can be extremely beneficial to the success of this initiative.

Measurement of key metrics is an important aspect of DevOps. Tracking metrics like deployment frequency, lead time for changes, and failure rate are essential to the goal of improving these items. Performing predictive analytics of the data gathered from your measurements can uncover areas that add value to your processes.

Sharing information regarding the workflow among teams is another factor that is necessary when searching for ways to improve the value stream. This can highlight the roles and importance of the members of the DevOps team and should lead to the development of a learning culture throughout the organization.

Surmounting the Impediments to Implementing DevOps

Limited IDEs and the availability of true cross-disciplinary tools can slow down businesses looking to implement DevOps. Aqua Data Studio is a versatile IDE that fits in perfectly with the mindset behind DevOps. It provides database access, a querying tool, and the ability to perform visual analytics. It is a useful tool that offers benefits to the enterprise far beyond those it furnishes the database team.

The intuitive interface makes it easy for non-database specific IT professionals to investigate the database landscape. The tool supports a wide range of database platforms which contributes to the DevOps mentality by improving productivity through the use of a unified solution.

An IDERA webcast providing a very in-depth discussion of this subject and how Aqua Data Studio can help is available on their website. If you’re interested in how DevOps can help your company become more competitive it is well worth the time spent watching the presentation. You will come away well-informed and ready to get DevOps implemented in your organization.

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