Welcome!

Linux Authors: Yeshim Deniz, Carmen Gonzalez, Pat Romanski, Phil Whelan, David Dossot

Related Topics: DevOps Journal, Java, SOA & WOA, Linux, Cloud Expo, Big Data Journal

DevOps Journal: 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.

@ThingsExpo Stories
Technology is enabling a new approach to collecting and using data. This approach, commonly referred to as the "Internet of Things" (IoT), enables businesses to use real-time data from all sorts of things including machines, devices and sensors to make better decisions, improve customer service, and lower the risk in the creation of new revenue opportunities. In his General Session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Dave Wagstaff, Vice President and Chief Architect at BSQUARE Corporation, discuss the real benefits to focus on, how to understand the requirements of a successful solution, the flow of ...
"BSQUARE is in the business of selling software solutions for smart connected devices. It's obvious that IoT has moved from being a technology to being a fundamental part of business, and in the last 18 months people have said let's figure out how to do it and let's put some focus on it, " explained Dave Wagstaff, VP & Chief Architect, at BSQUARE Corporation, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The major cloud platforms defy a simple, side-by-side analysis. Each of the major IaaS public-cloud platforms offers their own unique strengths and functionality. Options for on-site private cloud are diverse as well, and must be designed and deployed while taking existing legacy architecture and infrastructure into account. Then the reality is that most enterprises are embarking on a hybrid cloud strategy and programs. In this Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo (http://www.CloudComputingExpo.com), moderated by Ashar Baig, Research Director, Cloud, at Gigaom Research, Nate Gordon, Director of T...

ARMONK, N.Y., Nov. 20, 2014 /PRNewswire/ --  IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced that it is bringing a greater level of control, security and flexibility to cloud-based application development and delivery with a single-tenant version of Bluemix, IBM's platform-as-a-service. The new platform enables developers to build ap...

Focused on this fast-growing market’s needs, Vitesse Semiconductor Corporation (Nasdaq: VTSS), a leading provider of IC solutions to advance "Ethernet Everywhere" in Carrier, Enterprise and Internet of Things (IoT) networks, introduced its IStaX™ software (VSC6815SDK), a robust protocol stack to simplify deployment and management of Industrial-IoT network applications such as Industrial Ethernet switching, surveillance, video distribution, LCD signage, intelligent sensors, and metering equipment. Leveraging technologies proven in the Carrier and Enterprise markets, IStaX is designed to work ac...
"There is a natural synchronization between the business models, the IoT is there to support ,” explained Brendan O'Brien, Co-founder and Chief Architect of Aria Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at the 15th International Cloud Expo®, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
C-Labs LLC, a leading provider of remote and mobile access for the Internet of Things (IoT), announced the appointment of John Traynor to the position of chief operating officer. Previously a strategic advisor to the firm, Mr. Traynor will now oversee sales, marketing, finance, and operations. Mr. Traynor is based out of the C-Labs office in Redmond, Washington. He reports to Chris Muench, Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Traynor brings valuable business leadership and technology industry expertise to C-Labs. With over 30 years' experience in the high-tech sector, John Traynor has held numerous...
Bit6 today issued a challenge to the technology community implementing Web Real Time Communication (WebRTC). To leap beyond WebRTC’s significant limitations and fully leverage its underlying value to accelerate innovation, application developers need to consider the entire communications ecosystem.
The 3rd International @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that it is now accepting Keynote Proposals. 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 - computers, smartphones, tablets, and sensors - connected to the Internet by 2020. This number will continue to grow at a rapid pace for the next several decades.
The Internet of Things is not new. Historically, smart businesses have used its basic concept of leveraging data to drive better decision making and have capitalized on those insights to realize additional revenue opportunities. So, what has changed to make the Internet of Things one of the hottest topics in tech? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Gray, Director, Embedded and Internet of Things, discussed the underlying factors that are driving the economics of intelligent systems. Discover how hardware commoditization, the ubiquitous nature of connectivity, and the emergence of Big Data a...
Almost everyone sees the potential of Internet of Things but how can businesses truly unlock that potential. The key will be in the ability to discover business insight in the midst of an ocean of Big Data generated from billions of embedded devices via Systems of Discover. Businesses will also need to ensure that they can sustain that insight by leveraging the cloud for global reach, scale and elasticity.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Windstream, a leading provider of advanced network and cloud communications, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Windstream (Nasdaq: WIN), a FORTUNE 500 and S&P 500 company, is a leading provider of advanced network communications, including cloud computing and managed services, to businesses nationwide. The company also offers broadband, phone and digital TV services to consumers primarily in rural areas.
SYS-CON Events announced today that IDenticard will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. IDenticard™ is the security division of Brady Corp (NYSE: BRC), a $1.5 billion manufacturer of identification products. We have small-company values with the strength and stability of a major corporation. IDenticard offers local sales, support and service to our customers across the United States and Canada. Our partner network encompasses some 300 of the world's leading systems integrators and security s...
IoT is still a vague buzzword for many people. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mike Kavis, Vice President & Principal Cloud Architect at Cloud Technology Partners, discussed the business value of IoT that goes far beyond the general public's perception that IoT is all about wearables and home consumer services. He also discussed how IoT is perceived by investors and how venture capitalist access this space. Other topics discussed were barriers to success, what is new, what is old, and what the future may hold. Mike Kavis is Vice President & Principal Cloud Architect at Cloud Technology Pa...
Cloud Expo 2014 TV commercials will feature @ThingsExpo, which was launched in June, 2014 at New York City's Javits Center as the largest 'Internet of Things' event in the world. The next @ThingsExpo will take place November 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, in Santa Clara, California. Since its launch in 2008, Cloud Expo TV commercials have been aired and CNBC, Fox News Network, and Bloomberg TV. Please enjoy our 2014 commercial.
From a software development perspective IoT is about programming "things," about connecting them with each other or integrating them with existing applications. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Yakov Fain, co-founder of Farata Systems and SuranceBay, will show you how small IoT-enabled devices from multiple manufacturers can be integrated into the workflow of an enterprise application. This is a practical demo of building a framework and components in HTML/Java/Mobile technologies to serve as a platform that can integrate new devices as they become available on the market.
The 3rd International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that its Call for Papers is now open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
Located in booth #314, the Bsquare team will present DataV demos and discuss how DataV will help customers put their data to work to improve business outcomes. DataV is unlocking new initiatives across a wide landscape of customers in industries such as industrial manufacturing, transportation, retail and mobile. The solution is designed to complement a new project start or help to enrich an existing machine investment.
The Physical Web incorporates beacons that can be put in any small retail store, for example, so that every store now has "an app" for its customers. In this Birds-of-a-Feather session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Scott Jenson, Product Designer at Google, will discuss the Physical Web and how it is an open standard so any device can broadcast a URL wirelessly, so any phone/tablet/watch nearby can see, and rank those devices. When the user taps on one, they just go to that web page. It's really that simple. It's about thinking small, enabling micro-information (what is in my prescription bottle...
BSQUARE is a global leader of embedded software solutions. We enable smart connected systems at the device level and beyond that millions use every day and provide actionable data solutions for the growing Internet of Things (IoT) market. We empower our world-class customers with our products, services and solutions to achieve innovation and success. For more information, visit www.bsquare.com.