June 26, 2024

Change operation monitoring: Enabling database observability with robust activity reports

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What exactly is happening to your databases? For the answers, turn to database change operation monitoring – the branch of database observability that tells the who, what, when, where, and why of every modification to the database’s schema and data. 

Database observability – understanding, monitoring, and analyzing the health and performance of database systems and pipelines – can be broken into two categories:

  • Change operation monitoring, which tracks specific changes to the database, such as schema modifications and data migrations, documenting their impacts and supporting root cause analysis
  • Database (data) pipeline analytics, which measures the performance and efficiency of database change workflows within the CI/CD pipeline, using metrics like deployment frequency and change failure rate to identify and optimize bottlenecks

Together, these components help teams close the velocity gap between database and application updates while improving security and simplifying database compliance. They also enable teams to embrace the DevOps philosophy of continuous optimization with unprecedented levels of visibility and measurement across database change management

Change operation monitoring is the continuous tracking and analyzing of database changes throughout the pipeline. It leverages granular metadata to help detect errors, identify workflow patterns, prevent drift, and provide end-to-end context for every database update. 

By enabling alerts and detailed reports, change operation monitoring enhances security, efficiency, and reliability by providing visibility into database state modifications. It helps enforce policies, manage compliance, and improve time to recovery by ensuring that changes are fully documented, easily auditable, and aligned with organizational standards. 

Through this kind of database observability, teams can more easily maintain a stable, secure, and compliant database environment, optimizing workflows and quickly digging into change details for swift resolutions. 

Detailed reports of database updates and activities

In the process of database change management, when automated with a database DevOps solution like Liquibase, metadata can be collected at every step of the way, for every change, made by every individual across every environment. 

Reports about specific changes, database state drift, automated checks, and more can help teams:

  • Improve security and reliability 
  • Enforce and manage internal and compliance policies
  • Enhance auditability
  • Improve mean time to recovery 

Faster, safer, stronger application development pipelines

Across the application development pipeline, change operation monitoring brings granular visibility and crucial detail to DBAs, application developers, and DevOps teams handling database deployments. Reports and alerts informed and triggered by this monitoring help detect and resolve errors quickly, ensuring that the database remains stable and secure.

That means better:

  • Error detection, by identifying and revolting errors easier in the pipeline (shifting left)
  • Trend and pattern recognition, such as those that highlight workflow or technology inefficiencies or issues
  • Security, by monitoring for unauthorized changes and providing traceability for critical details of every change
  • Reliability, by reducing the time it takes to identify and fix issues while continuously optimizing workflow performance
  • Compliance, by ensuring adherence to necessary standards through continuous monitoring and documentation that lets no crucial detail go unchecked

No longer are database changes or errors a mystery – change operation monitoring connects the dots on every change, for complete traceability. 

Improving data pipeline integrity and performance

In data pipeline operations, change operation monitoring offers detailed insights and visibility for data analysts, data engineers, business intelligence analysts, and others with data-driven roles and accountabilities. Database change monitoring helps them detect and address issues promptly and even proactively, boosting data integrity and the efficiency of the data pipeline as a whole. 

Data teams can enhance:

  • Data integrity, by identifying and resolving data discrepancies and ensuring accuracy, consistency, and traceability
  • Performance, by highlighting inefficiencies and optimizing data processing workflows
  • Security, by monitoring for unauthorized changes or access to protected data
  • Compliance, by ensuring clear audit trails and evidence of regulatory adherence
  • Availability, by detecting potential issues earlier to minimize downtime

Change operation monitoring empowers data teams to maintain a secure, compliant, and efficient data pipeline, improving overall data quality and operational performance.

Detecting database drift

Change operation monitoring plays a crucial role in detecting database drift by continuously tracking and analyzing all changes made to the database. It identifies discrepancies between the current database state and the expected state, highlighting unauthorized or unexpected changes. 

This proactive monitoring ensures that any drift is detected early, allowing teams to address issues before they escalate. By providing detailed reports and alerts on changes, it facilitates quick remediation and maintains the integrity and consistency of the database, ensuring alignment with internal policies, technical requirements, and compliance needs.

This element of change operation monitoring supports database activity monitoring (DAM), a related but distinct concept. Typically, a dedicated DAM solution includes real-time tracking of all database activities, such as user actions, transactions, and access patterns. DAM aims to detect unauthorized access, ensure security, and provide comprehensive activity logs for auditing.

Change operations reports with database DevOps 

With a database DevOps solution like Liquibase, which brings automation, governance, and observability to database change management, every activity – change operation – executed on the database gets tracked to inform pipeline analytics, plus Operations Reports like these. 

Update Reports

Liquibase’s Update Reports inform teams about system, runtime, operation, and changeset information regarding their database deployments.

In other words, it’s a comprehensive summary of all changes applied to a database. These reports include detailed information about each changeset, such as the execution status, time, and any messages or errors encountered during the process. 

They offer essential insights for auditing and compliance by documenting the granular execution details of database modifications, helping teams ensure that all changes are accurately tracked and reviewed.

They help teams answer questions like:

  • Which changes were executed?
  • Which changes failed to deploy, and why?
  • How many changes were deployed in the last month?
  • What was the runtime for recent changes?
  • Were there any errors or warnings during the deployments?

Checks Report

Quality Checks are a Liquibase feature that provides automated validations that ensure database changes meet predefined standards for quality, security, performance, and compliance before deployment.

Checks Run Reports in Liquibase provide detailed information about the execution of Quality Checks on database changes. They include which checks were run, the specific changesets they applied to, and the results of these checks across different databases.

These reports ensure that all database changes comply with established quality, security, and compliance standards, offering essential visibility and traceability for database modifications.

They help teams answer questions like:

  • Which code standards are problematic?
  • Which checks were run on the latest changes?
  • Did any changes fail the quality checks, and why?
  • Which databases were checked most frequently?
  • What are the common issues detected by the checks?
  • How do the results of these checks impact deployment decisions?

Drift Reports

Database drift occurs when a database’s actual state deviates from its expected state due to unauthorized or unintended changes. Monitoring and investigating database drift helps maintain data integrity, security, and compliance. Detecting drift early prevents potential issues that can affect application performance and data consistency, ensuring that all changes are tracked, documented, and aligned with organizational policies.

Drift Reports in Liquibase highlight differences between the current state of a database and its expected state. They detail schema and reference data changes, allowing teams to detect and address unauthorized or unintended modifications.

These reports provide essential insights for maintaining database consistency, security, and compliance by pinpointing discrepancies that could lead to drift.

They help teams answer questions like:

  • Why are unauthorized changes occurring?
  • Which activities are susceptible to error or inaccuracy?
  • What discrepancies exist between the current and expected database state?
  • Which unauthorized changes were detected?
  • How frequently does drift occur in our databases?
  • What specific schema or data changes have led to drift?
  • What actions are needed to remediate identified drift?

Rollback reports

Database rollbacks – even Targeted Rollbacks that cherry-pick nonsequential changes – are easy and streamlined with Liquibase. They’re also easy to analyze, so teams can understand why they happen, how to avoid them, and if there are any errors to hunt down and resolve. 

Rollback Reports document the details of rollback operations performed on a database. These reports include information about each changeset that was rolled back, the execution status, time of rollback, and any messages or errors encountered during the process. 

These reports improve auditing and compliance, providing a clear record of undoing changes and helping teams ensure that the database can be safely reverted to a previous state when necessary.

They help teams answer questions like: 

  • Which changes have been rolled back recently?
  • What were the reasons for each rollback?
  • How long did each rollback operation take?
  • Were there any issues encountered during the rollbacks?
  • Which changes are most commonly rolled back, and why?

Bring change monitoring to your pipelines with database DevOps 

The roles database observability plays across modern application development, database, and data teams come in many forms across the entire pipeline. Learn more about the value of bringing pipeline analytics and change operation monitoring to your pipelines: 5 benefits of database observability that help you unlock the future, faster.

With Liquibase – a complete database DevOps solution for application development, database, DevOps, and data teams – observability is built into every change and every action. Database pipelines can finally benefit from the same kind of visibility, traceability, and continuous optimization as the rest of the streamlined and automated pipeline. 

For a deep dive into how database observability supports innovation while safeguarding compliance and enhancing security, get the whitepaper: Streamlining Database Compliance with CI/CD Integration

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See Liquibase in Action

Accelerate database changes, reduce failures, and enforce governance across your pipelines.

Watch a Demo