September 10, 2019

How to Choose Database Release Automation Tools

Why are Database Release Automation Tools Important?

Database automation tools are no longer optional. With the widespread adoption of DevOps and Agile practices, tools for database automation are now an essential piece for software teams.

Our 2019 State of Database Deployments in Application Delivery Report shows that 57% of all application code changes require a corresponding database change. But for many teams, database changes are difficult to make and deploy quickly. 92% report it has been difficult to accelerate the database deployment process. When teams are under pressure, mistakes are made and that can make a bad situation worse. 84% have experienced serious production issues because of database change errors.

Regular application release automation tools are not enough to prevent bad database changes and deployments. That’s because application release automation mainly focuses on application code and doesn’t provide a comprehensive solution for database change and automation.

Database Change and Deployment Automation Tools

Database code behaves differently than application code because it holds persistent data. When enterprises ignore the challenges that are specific to databases and neglect the use of database release automation tools, the result is broken applications and angry customers. Even worse, once a release is broken, it can be very difficult to fix and downtime can cost organizations a lot of money. For example, Salesforce put a bad database change in production that cost them an estimated $5 million.

Database release automation tools can prevent these problems, ensuring safety and allowing software releases to happen faster. Different database automation tools use different philosophies and methods, mainly related to state vs. migrations-based approaches. Each approach has its drawbacks and challenges, so it is critical to pick the right tool for the job.

Any database release tool should follow essential DevOps concepts and best practices, like ‘build once deploy many’ and ‘deploy the same way across all environments’. They must guarantee that configuration drift is not only detectable but easy to address and that deployment is executed in the same way each time to achieve a consistent and repeatable process.

Open Source Database Change and Deployment Automation Options

There are two primary open source database automation tools available: Liquibase and Flyway. Open source (free!) database release automation tools sound great at first but can become challenging for teams to scale and use as a long-term solution.

Open source infrastructure requires a lot of time, energy, and continuous maintenance. It’s an ongoing process that evolves with automation changes. The effort that your organization must invest to ensure functionality for an open source database release automation tool might cost more in labor than a commercial solution.

Liquibase and Flyway both offer basic functionality, which is often insufficient for enterprise needs. Many organizations require features such as RBAC, platform validation, and advanced security. In contrast, commercial solutions are constantly evolving due to interaction with customers who keep benefiting from improvements without having to deal with shortcomings.

There is now an in-between option for teams that want to experiment with database change and deployment automation and get support: Liquibase Pro.

Commercial Database Release Automation Tools

Commercial database automation tools have many advantages, including knowledgeable support staff and quick response should problems arise. Datical provides organizations true partnerships in implementing large scale change in how software development teams deliver applications.

Gartner predicts that through 2022, 75% of DevOps initiatives will fail to meet expectations due to issues around organizational learning and change.

Datical provides more than just database change and deployment automation tools, we provide best practices, workshops, and training to help teams succeed with new processes.

Choosing the Right Tool

Every team’s needs are different. Companies have software teams of all shapes, sizes, and types. These teams may run anything from huge mission-critical databases to newer NoSQL databases. Since each software team is different, it makes sense for organizations to choose the right database change management solution based on team makeup, complexity of the database, how frequently it needs to be updated, and the importance of applications it supports.

Liquibase offers products at three levels to help increase productivity for every software team’s use case.

Contact us today and we can help you select the right database change and deployment tool for your organization.

Erika Kalar
Erika Kalar
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