No Magical DevOps

I saw this comment in a post a short while back. A reader said “I’m still trying to wrap my head around “devops” as it pertains to database deployment. … how do you deal with those potentially dangerous/destructive changes without manually coding? … what tools are there that help in that regard? That’s what database developers really need. The only tools I’ve found that’ [are] useful so far are experience and care.

We have some tools over at Redgate software to help with database DevOps, but there aren’t any magic solutions that can alter your database in some way that doesn’t impact users and preserves all data. In fact, if anyone claimed to have a tool, I wouldn’t trust it because there are just too many variables in database deployments. I certainly wouldn’t trust a tool with automated rollbacks. Ultimately, experience and care are needed to build better software.

And, by the way, DevOps doesn’t solve deployment issues. All DevOps does is help you automate the tasks you’d run manually in a reliable, repeatable fashion. DevOps teaches you to learn from your actions (gaining experience) and experimenting with small changes so that your mistakes aren’t as impactful (developing with care). DevOps isn’t magic, it’s good, solid, learning from what works and what doesn’t, altering our habits, and striving to be better. DevOps is often just providing a reliable, repeatable way of automating the things you do manually now, not inventing new processes.

I do believe in DevOps and I think that it can work well, but it requires balance, commitment, and huge culture changes. Automating code deployment is easy with some tools. Getting people to write better code is hard. I can help with the former, and I try to help with the latter here at SQLServerCentral, but it’s really up to most of you to make an effort to become better at your craft. Getting that to work in any size organization requires that your management supports teams learning to be better and tolerating a few mistakes here and there.

Many successful developers and DBAs have been practicing for many years (even decades) what the media and high profile companies have been calling DevOps for mere months. You can join them by looking to improve all parts of your software development pipeline through collaboration and automation. Just don’t forget to also learn to write better code along the way.

Steve Jones

The Voice of the DBA Podcast

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