March 13, 2024

5 benefits of database DevOps observability that help you unlock the future, faster

Database observability is critical to ensuring smooth operations, but these insights can be even more valuable in optimizing technology and workflows while maximizing the business value of data and infrastructure. To fully embrace database DevOps philosophies and reap their benefits throughout application and data pipelines, you also need to enable an automatic and continuous feedback loop for database change management

Database observability is the capability to understand a database system's condition through the analysis of its generated data, which is collected on observability or analytics platforms for monitoring essential workflow performance metrics and change operation outcomes. It equips teams with the necessary feedback to enhance the performance, reliability, efficiency, and adaptability of CI/CD pipelines as databases evolve. 

From the perspective of database DevOps, observability falls into two categories: change operation monitoring and pipeline (workflow) analytics. Change operation monitoring keeps track of which changes happened (and when, why, by who) and how they impact database state. Pipeline analytics measures workflow performance to offer, for instance, DORA metrics for database change management. 

Imagine a database deployment dashboard with which you can observe the workflow metrics and trends your teams need to fix, improve, and optimize your database change processes. In essence, the first and most powerful benefit of database observability is just that – actually being able to see, measure, and track DevOps metrics for the database like you already can for application workflows. 

1. Extend CI/CD workflow analytics to the database

How can we close the gaps in our CI/CD pipeline? Which parts of the database deployment workflow slow down the rest of the pipeline? How can DevOps teams get visibility on database workflows to streamline these processes?

Across your organization’s application and data pipelines, DevOps teams regularly monitor, measure, and report on workflow observability data to create optimization insights. With the same ability to continuously improve the database change workflow, the CI/CD pipeline can be officially completed, lending the same DevOps spirit to data stores as you do to software code. 

A change management automation solution like Liquibase systematically tracks database changes and records the necessary workflow data as it's triggered throughout the pipeline. This tracking, organized by Liquibase into Structured Logs, can power database observability when integrated into your existing platforms. 

A dashboard such as the one above represents database observability metrics piped in from Liquibase to your team’s existing observability and monitoring tool. With DORA metrics and other critical indicators on display, the database workflow is ripe for innovation and refinement. 

2. Improve efficiency and productivity

Which teams cause the most frequent deployment failures? Which types of policies and rules are most often violated? Which parts of the workflow need to shift further left to avoid issues downstream? Where can more revenue be extracted from the database change process?

With visibility into database CI/CD pipeline analytics, teams can identify stages in their change management workflows that inhibit speed and innovation. Through database automation and observability-driven optimization, teams find opportunities to streamline their processes, remove manual toil, and reduce errors. 

Being able to quickly identify and address hindrances to productivity sets teams up to maximum speed sooner, keeping better pace with automated application development and business intelligence needs. The efficiency gains realized can reduce downtime, accelerate the DevOps feedback loop, and shorten the runway to workflow enhancements. 

3. Enable trend analysis and proactive mitigation

Which changes are most often rolled back, and why? Which tables or objects are most often updated, and why? How can historical data trends be leveraged to predict and prevent future database issues or bottlenecks? 

Database observability dashboards help shed light on short- and long-term trends in workflow metrics, which can highlight issues, such as problematic schema design, and inform strategic solutions. For data science and business intelligence teams, these insights are critical to making informed decisions and optimizing data strategies.

This proactive approach to managing database environments through change operation monitoring can help anticipate and mitigate potential problems before they escalate, ensuring the stability and reliability of data systems. Seeing issues in earlier stages – shifting left – before they hit production can not only prevent critical end-user errors, but highlight workflow inefficiencies that head off future issues. 

4. Defend data integrity and compliance

How can teams better keep pace with evolving data protection regulations? How can teams identify and rectify data integrity issues before they affect downstream processes or reporting accuracy?

Database observability in DevOps and data science workflows enhances these teams’ abilities to run audits and enforce governance that preserves database compliance. For example, the ability to run reports on which changes have been deployed can instantly drum up the details needed to track down and remediate any issues. 

By tracking not just database changes, but deployment status and other dashboard metrics, observability gives teams stronger, deeper, and faster auditing capabilities. This makes any type of regulation or compliance standard easier to follow and monitor. 

With database change management visibility, teams can ensure DevOps and pipeline workflows preserve and improve data integrity at the database with tighter oversight of infrastructure evolutions.

5. Strengthen security and threat detection

How can teams improve the detection and investigation of security incidents or data breaches? Where does the data pipeline need more robust data security and threat mitigation?

Quickly identify potential security breaches and make more informed responses and mitigation strategies thanks to database observability, which can shed light on database intrusions, schema drift, and workflow-related security risks. With threat detection built into the observability dashboard, concerning activities can trigger alerts and add security improvements. Similarly, automated drift detection can monitor for unauthorized change in state to alert database teams that schema isn’t as it should be. 

And with insight into where, when, and how a security incident happened security teams can act quicker, better mitigate damage, and more easily contain the threat. Reducing severity as well as time to detect and respond means a more robust data security standard.

Shift to innovation with database observability

These five benefits culminate into a notable shift in the culture and mindset surrounding your organization’s database change management. No longer must the process be mired in manual reviews and long wait times, or veiled behind the obscurity of undocumented pipeline progression. 

Enabling database change automation and observability in the form of database pipeline analytics (e.g., DORA metrics) and change operation monitoring allows database teams to shift from a toilsome workload of change request submissions to more innovative projects that advance database integrity and performance. They can devote at least some of that energy, instead, to analyzing database observability dashboards. From this thoughtful and strategic analysis, database teams can take an informed look at the nuances of their workflows, teams, applications, databases, and data sources. 

By offering a comprehensive view into your database deployment and management processes, Liquibase empowers your teams to unlock efficiency, anticipate challenges, ensure compliance, and fortify security while accelerating software delivery. Liquibase not only makes database observability a reality but elevates it to a strategic advantage. 

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