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How do companies manage database changes?

Q:

How do companies manage database changes?

A:

Databases are now more complex than ever in nature due to the ever-increasing demand from businesses. These demands include new functionality, on-time delivery, on-demand changes, continuous availability, security, integrity and many other features.

In many cases, database systems suffer from problems such as uncontrolled changes, overwritten code, data loss and data mix-up. As a consequence, the production release of the database also suffers a lot, and fixing those issues at a later point of time can be very difficult. Therefore, proper change management is essential for a smoothly running database system.

Previously, database change management was a tedious and complex task. It involved a lot of manual activities and scripting. So the changes sometimes led to erroneous results. With the advancement of new technologies, platforms and processes, database change management has become more efficient.

Modern enterprises are managing database changes with methods such as:

  • Implementing automated change management process: The deployment and repetitive tasks on a database system must be managed by automated processes. Otherwise, it unnecessarily consumes the valuable time of skilled technicians. The automated process is a complete database change management solution which minimizes human intervention and reduces errors.
  • Introducing version control: Implementation of a proper version control tool/system is a must for automation and change management. It helps in data/schema comparison and synchronization. So if there is any change, it can be detected easily. A ersion tool also helps in maintaining different versions of database files and any previous version can be rolled back easily.
  • Configuration management: Configuration management has to be implemented properly so that all the environments like test, production, sandbox, trunks and branches follow the same structure. It ensures consistency and minimizes errors.
  • Implementing reliable scripts: Scripting is used widely for repetitive tasks like deployment, rollbacks and mergers. It reduces human errors and makes the change management more efficient.
  • Integration with other systems: Change management tools are generally integrated with other related systems like ticketing, build servers, deployment servers and version controls. It makes the end-to-end system more reliable and automated.

Database changes are becoming more frequent, so the change management process is getting more attention. Organizations are following best practices and tools to keep up with the demand and changes. Apart from the above points, DevOps for database should also follow best practices for efficient database change management.

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Kaushik Pal

Kaushik is a technical architect with 15 years of experience in enterprise applications and product development. He has expertise in Web technologies, architecture/design, Java/J2EE, open source and Hadoop/big data technologies.

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