The Benefits of Using Liquibase Over a Custom Built Database Tool

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It’s a universal pain that every software team knows well — updating database code comes with risks and it tends to take a lot more time to release database changes than app changes. App developers moved their processes to automation years ago while the database code process was left far behind — often split off to a separate database group to deal with or given to developers who built their own custom solutions to help manage the growing number of database code changes.

Teams that created their own database change management solution, left to their own devices, slowly built up tools around the specific databases they served. The reason so many teams come to us at Liquibase is that they are now faced with a decision: dedicate even more development time to update and maintain their homegrown database change solution to work with new databases and tools or find a solution that is database agnostic and is maintained and supported externally.

Most teams end up choosing Liquibase over their own in-house custom-built solution. Here are the top reasons why teams are happy with that decision.

Standardization

We have a CI/CD pipeline where developers can commit their application code but there was always a blocker with database code. Every team had a different process for deploying database changes. There was no constant.

H.R.Technical Support at a large insurance company (before switching to Liquibase)

Liquibase supports 33 different database platforms (and the list is growing). Having a database-agnostic tool to handle all of your organization’s database change needs is a smart investment. Regardless of which database types you’re leveraging, the same syntax can be used across all of them. This is so important when rolling out a tool across your organization: standardization! When each team uses a different tool and a different database process, it can significantly slow your team down as they adjust to the differences. When teams can use the same tool no matter which application they are supporting, a member of any other team can jump right in and understand what needs to be done.

Instant Validation & Self-Service

Centralizing and setting up an automated process where individual application teams across the enterprise can deploy databases changes themselves without worrying about lead time and integration and also without having to batch a lot of changes was the goal.

C.D.Product Manager at a large insurance company

Many in-house custom database tools don’t empower database developers to confidently commit database code. DBA teams are often tasked with reviewing thousands of scripts manually via ticketing systems. Developers then have to wait days to receive feedback on their code, rework it, and then send it back through the ticketing system.

With Liquibase, DBAs can set up quality checks for database changes that ensure developers are empowered to write database code that meets standards right from the beginning. Developers can automatically check the code themselves before committing and the Liquibase quality checks can be run as a build step in automation. Any code that fails the quality checks triggers the build to fail and provides instant feedback to developers about why it failed. This helps teams enable CI/CD for database changes.

Liquibase in a CICD workflow

Integration

Liquibase has completely changed how we look at and approach schema migrations. Changesets are quick, clean, and easily repeatable across our fleet. Thanks to Liquibase and the many open source integrations available, we built out a reliable GitOps solution that we use to drive efficiencies across the organization.

Erin KolpManager of Infrastructure Engineering

There’s a steadily growing list of DevOps tools that teams need to integrate with to deliver software. It’s plain overwhelming to think about updating a custom-built database tool every time the team needs to integrate with the next new thing. Since it’s a one-off in-house tool, you’re likely not going to get much help in connecting it up from the vendor’s side. Liquibase integrates with most DevOps tools out of the box. With the relationships our team is building with other top DevOps vendors, those integrations will just get more feature-rich and helpful. From ensuring your team is able to easily deploy databases to AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud to advanced orchestration tools to test data management — we’re working to ensure that teams that use Liquibase can focus on delivering value to customers, not updating in-house integrations.

Docs & Training

Whenever I am researching a new tool, the first thing I look for is whether or not they provide training… Liquibase had the training I could jump into right away. It was one of the main reasons I didn’t even look at some of the other tools.

Prashanth PaisPrincipal Engineer at T-Mobile

When your team is continually working on an in-house solution, the documentation is usually not updated consistently after the initial build and deployment. To troubleshoot problems or update the tool, teams often need to figure out where to look for code, specific algorithms, and business rules. It’s like trying to find a needle in a haystack.

Since Liquibase has been a popular open source tool for over 15 years, there’s solid documentation and training. Liquibase University offers free courses and a free Liquibase Fundamentals certification. There’s also an intermediate course track available with a paid certification and more advanced courses are on the way!

Support

The key thing for choosing Liquibase is the support. We were looking for a partner. (Other options did not work this way.) Liquibase resolved issues right away, validated our processes, and validated our strategies. Liquibase support is faster than other tools in our environment.

Camilo Piedrahita MacíasHead of DevOps & Database Management

With in-house tools, there’s no dedicated support team or SLA. If there’s a problem with the tool, it can take focus away from what the company should really be focusing on. Liquibase users have access to a large and very active support community. We’ve got an active forum, chat, and meetups.

We’re always getting compliments about our support team — they not only help teams get started with Liquibase but improve overall DevOps processes. At the end of the day, that’s what it’s really all about. We’re so confident that you’ll love our support that we offer professional support as part of our free 30-day trial.

Summing it up

Liquibase will keep expanding support to more database platforms and DevOps integrations. We’ve helped countless organizations standardize their processes and develop a plan to replace in-house tools one app at a time. There are a ton of benefits in using a standard supported tool and not a lot of drawbacks. If you’re interested in learning more about how Liquibase can help your team release faster and safer, contact us. We’ll help put together a plan to retire that homegrown tool so your team can focus on delivering value to your customers and not on updating and supporting an internal tool when there’s an open source option with more features and support available.

Erika Kalar
Erika Kalar
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