As a DevOps engineer at Redgate, I’m one of those responsible for keeping the systems going behind the scenes. That’s everything from the internal systems and databases to the infrastructure that keeps our websites up and running.

As you might imagine, I don’t have a lot of free time, so if there’s a tool that can help me do my job faster or better, I use it. One of those tools is Redgate’s own DLM Dashboard, which tracks database schemas and provides alerts when they change.

Redgate didn’t ask me to use it because it’s been developed in-house. I use it because it’s one of those tools that just works for me.

It lets me know what changes, when it changes

We have two primary production databases at Redgate, one fairly small, one quite large. Those databases have to be working at their optimum all the time. Our business depends on it. If one or both was to go down, or have a problem, it would be a big issue.

So as you might imagine, I’m quite protective about the databases. I don’t mind changes being made to them– there have to be changes to update information, add new features or improve current ones. But if changes are made, I like to know what they are.

If someone changes something in one area, it can have an unexpected knock-on effect in another area. Without knowing if a change has been made, it can be difficult to know what caused a problem with a database, and what the solution is to resolve that problem.

DLM Dashboard drift

That’s why I like DLM Dashboard. When a database drifts from its expected state, it sees the change, highlights it on the projects dashboard, and sends me an alert. The alert tells me what changed, when it changed, and who changed it. Often, everything is fine, but it’s that reassurance factor I like.

If a problem does come up, I can often track it down instantly to a single change. The solution is to roll back the change to return the database to its previous stable state, and then work with the developers to find out how to make the change they want safely.

All of which means I don’t have to keep an eye on everything, every minute of the day, because DLM Dashboard does it for me. In fact, sometimes I’ll forget it’s even there and suddenly it tells me about a change I wouldn’t otherwise know about.

I like that. You set it up, configure it, and then walk away to do the important stuff. Meanwhile, it’s working away in the background and when there is an issue, it notifies you.

DLM Dashboard is only a small tool – and a free one – but it does draw favorable comments from a range of customers as well as me:

“A customer asked for a solution to help their database team
regain control of a mature environment with multiple owners.
DLM Dashboard helped to achieve this and more.”

Phil Grayson, Principle Consultant, xTEN

“With DLM Dashboard, I can monitor the Dev server more closely,
which means I discover databases being deployed onto the Dev box,
rather than just being called in when it breaks.”

Shaun Atkinson, SQL DBA

If you’d like to see what DLM Dashboard could do for you, download it for free, or watch this very short video and see how you can set it up in two minutes:

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