7 June 2017
7 June 2017

Six reasons to version control your database

For most application developers, it’s unthinkable to work without version control. The benefits of tracking and retaining an incremental history of code changes are long understood in the world of software development. No surprise then that the overwhelming majority of respondents in our State of Database DevOps survey confirmed they’re already using this practice for their application code.

database version control

But it was a different picture when we asked about database version control. Only 58% of those who completed the same survey stated that they used version control for their database changes. In a way, it’s understandable as database version control was, for a long time, seen as unfeasible. But now that’s no longer the case, it’s time database development teams caught onto the benefits.

So if you’re not already versioning your database code, here are some of the reasons why you should be, and some of the ways that SQL Source Control can help:

1. Easily share code changes within your team

Putting database code into a version control system makes it easier to coordinate the work of the different team members who share responsibility for the database. The ability to rapidly share and manage changes makes it particularly important for teams based in different locations. With SQL Source Control, team members can work on a shared database or each use a local, dedicated copy. With features like object locking, you can avoid conflicts and more easily work, without treading on each other’s toes.

2. Gain better visibility of the development pipeline

A version control system provides an overview of what development work is going on, its progress, who’s doing it, and why. Version control maintains detailed change histories, and can often be associated with issue tracking systems. For example, SQL Source Control lets you associate database tasks with Microsoft’s Team Foundation Server work items so you can get a complete view of your workflow (as demonstrated in our recent webinar).

3. Have the ability to rollback or retrieve previous versions of the database

While you should always have a reliable backup strategy in place, getting a database into version control also provides an efficient mechanism for backing up the SQL code for your database. Because the history it provides is incremental, version control lets developers explore different solutions and roll back safely in the case of errors, giving you a risk-free sandbox. With SQL Source Control, it’s simple to roll back and resolve conflicts straight from the Object Explorer.

4. More readily demonstrate compliance and auditing

The change tracking provided by version control is the first step to getting your database ready for compliance, and an essential step in maintaining a robust audit trail and managing risk. Compliance auditors will require an organization to account for all changes to a database, and detail all those with access to it. With SQL Source Control, you can look through the full revision history of a database or database object and see exactly who made the changes, when they made them, and why.

5. Put the foundations in place for database automation

Having a single version of truth for your database code simplifies change management. Complex processes become more automatable and repeatable, and deployments much more predictable because you’re working with a stable version of the database. Using code checked into SQL Source Control as the basis for the automated builds and tests run by DLM Automation means that problems are found earlier, and higher quality code is eventually shipped and deployed.

6. Synchronize database and application code changes

Having the database in version control directly alongside the application will also integrate database changes with application code changes. You’ll always know the version of the database being deployed directly corresponds to the version of the application being deployed. This direct integration helps to ensure better coordination between teams, increase efficiencies, and helps when troubleshooting issues. SQL Source Control plugs into version control systems like TFS, Git and Subversion that are already used for storing application code changes.

Summary

While it’s true that database version control wasn’t always achievable, the availability of tools like SQL Source Control means there is now no reason why the percentage of companies and organizations versioning their database code shouldn’t be higher.  If you’re one of the 42% not yet version controlling your database, maybe one of the six reasons above will change your mind.

Find out more about putting database version control in place with SQL Source Control. SQL Source Control is part of the SQL Toolbelt, a suite of essential tools to boost productivity and simplify development, testing, and deployment.

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SQL Source Control

Connect your databases to your source control system.

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