18 months ago, Redgate embarked on a new and ambitious journey with the acquisition of Flyway. It’s been quite a ride since then and we thought we’d end 2020 with an update on what’s been happening with the world’s most popular open source migrations framework for database deployments. We’ve learned a lot, and I wanted to share that with you in this post.
Redgate has been developing proprietary database development tools like SQL Compare, Source Control for Oracle, and Data Masker for 20 years, and Flyway was, in many ways, a natural next step. It’s easy to adopt, simple to scale across teams and allows developers to manage migration scripts with confidence across 20+ of the most common database engines.
This ability to standardize migrations across different databases also fits in really well with Redgate’s goal to include the database in DevOps. The acquisition back in July 2019 was part of our plan to extend our reach beyond SQL Server and Oracle to other popular databases and platforms like PostgreSQL and MySQL, MariaDB and Amazon Redshift.
When we took on Flyway, it had an active community of contributors to the open source code, tens of thousands of users of the free community version, and a significant number of users of the paid-for business version.
We wanted to develop more features like the ability to cherry-pick migrations, add support for further platforms like Azure Synapse and Google Cloud Spanner, and clear the backlog of feature requests. All while, importantly, keeping the free community version.
A new way of thinking, a new way of working
Like many software companies, Redgate has a portfolio of proprietary database development tools and solutions, and Flyway was our first foray into the open source arena. This presented a challenge in the way we managed and developed the tool because its success needed to be measured by the continued growth and user adoption of the free community version as well as the paid-for version.
For inspiration, we turned to the 1-2-3 framework created by Adam Gross, technology investor and adviser, based on his work at Heroku. He helped to grow the revenue of the cloud application platform from $35m to $300m by shifting the company’s focus away from the traditional approach of selling software at the department or enterprise level.
He talks about the framework in his online video, Building Self-Serve Go-to-Market. He rationalizes that selling software has moved on a long way from the 90s, when CIOs were the main focus, or the following decade when it shifted to department heads.
Now, in what he calls Go-to-Market 3.0, he proposes that tools like Flyway should aim for user adoption at the individual level, migrate users up to the team level, and ultimately have an enterprise offering at the end of the journey rather than the beginning. He illustrates it really well in this visual representation:
Source: Adam Gross, Building Self Serve GTM
We love this because it shows how three Go-to-Market Motions, or approaches, can be part of the same journey rather than being different journeys. The free tool encourages adoption, while additional features which support collaboration justify a paid-for self-serve version. The culmination of the journey is where capabilities which enable compliance prompt take-up from enterprises.
Crucially – and this is what we really like about the framework – the free community version is cemented into it as a permanent element of the roadmap. It’s not there as a lightweight version with limited features: instead, it needs to be as robust and feature-rich as possible in order to encourage individuals and then teams to trial it, use it, recommend it, and move on to the next level.
More features, more downloads, more users
With the 1-2-3 framework as a guide, the team behind Flyway has been busy – really busy – over the last 18 months. There have been 47 releases, including Flyway v7 which introduced the Flyway Teams Edition alongside the free Community Edition.
Along the way, hundreds of changes, performance updates and bug fixes have improved the usability of Flyway. Every user can now delete, skip or cherry pick migrations, and use Flyway with additional platforms like Azure (with Synapse) and Google Cloud Platform (with Spanner). Teams have been introduced to enterprise-grade authentication methods, advanced script control, and legacy database support.
Flyway now fulfils the first two steps in the 1-2-3 framework, and it’s also been integrated into the underlying technology in Redgate Deploy, Redgate’s new cross-database development solution, to meet the compliance needs of enterprises. From version control to continuous delivery, Redgate Deploy lets enterprises securely automate database development processes across different databases, accelerate software delivery and ensure quality code.
As a direct result of developing Flyway further and faster, users of the Community Edition have increased by 25%, downloads have doubled to 40 million in 2020, and revenue from the paid-for Teams Edition has also doubled.
That’s not the end of the journey
Over the last 18 months, Flyway has broadened Redgate’s understanding of open source software and shown how the demands of individuals, teams and enterprises can all be satisfied by offering a stepladder of benefits and capabilities depending on need. We now have better visibility of database deployments across different technologies and among full stack developers, which in turn is helping inform what additional features should be created.
And we’re not finished yet. Thanks to Flyway’s ongoing success, more developers and a product designer are joining the development team. Next on the horizon for 2021 is a new logo and identity to refresh the look of Flyway for every user, and a roadmap with a host of features for both the Community and Teams Editions.
Look out in particular for Flightpath, a free SaaS product we’re developing for Flyway which will provide you with useful and actionable insight into your development and deployments using Flyway. You can read more about it in A first view of Flightpath from Flyway Lead Software Engineer, Julia Hayward.
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