18 October 2019
18 October 2019

Why you should include the database in your 2020 IT strategy

It’s that time of year when business leaders and managers in organizations of all shapes and sizes are considering what the next 12 months’ strategy and beyond should look like. Specifically, what does your IT strategy look like, and how does that underpin the business objectives? If these questions sound familiar, this blog post is for you.

Keeping DevOps central to the strategy

In the 2019 edition of the Accelerate: State of DevOps report, research once again shows that DevOps drives business value, which means it should absolutely be on the agenda for a 2020 IT strategy in high performing organizations. Of course, DevOps is a methodology. According to Donovan Brown:

“DevOps is the union of people, process, and products
to enable continuous delivery of value to our end users.”

You can’t simply buy a suite of tools to ‘do DevOps’. However, you can (and should) adopt tooling to enable DevOps processes, while simultaneously planning and resourcing initiatives to enact cultural change and implement best practice. This will set your teams on a DevOps journey to start reaping the business benefits.

DevOps can be applied to a variety of business groups, although it’s most well-known and mature within application development teams. The 2019 State of Database DevOps report from Redgate shows that DevOps in application development is still more advanced than in database development: for example, continuous integration – a cornerstone of DevOps – is now used by 53% for application development, but only 27% for database development. But interestingly, in 2018 the DevOps Research Assessment group (DORA) identified database development as a key technical practice which can drive high performance in DevOps:

Key technical practices drive high performance. These include monitoring and observability, continuous testing, database change management, and integrating security earlier in the software development process.”

So in this blog post, we’ll focus specifically on DevOps in the context of the database, how it can enable successful business growth, and how to include it in your 2020 IT strategy.

Three key DevOps trends for database professionals

Kendra Little, Microsoft MVP and DevOps Advocate at Redgate, recently discussed key findings for database professionals from the 2019 Accelerate: State of DevOps report:

  1. Speed and stability are not trade-offs
  2. Heavy change processes negatively impact speed and stability
  3. Communities of practice are a common and successful tool to transform culture

Let’s consider these trends in the context of today’s current business challenges.

“There is a fatal flaw in the assumption… that there is a ‘trusted’ internal network where data is safe.”
The Future of Data Security: A Zero Trust Approach · John Kindervag, Heidi Shey, Kelley Mak, 2014 · Forrester Research, Inc.

Safeguarding sensitive data is no longer optional

Safeguarding sensitive data is essential, not only for regulatory compliance, but from an ethical and business security perspective. When we think of a data breach, our minds leap to a malicious attack, but human error or internal access are similarly credible threats that could lead to the exposure or misuse of data. Additionally, customers are increasingly demanding their data is used safely and responsibly. It’s becoming a competitive advantage to manage sensitive data while delivering at speed, and will soon simply be a pre-requisite from the customer’s perspective.

Additionally, safeguarding sensitive data is a foundational principle to improved database development processes. By ensuring safe and compliant data at source for dev and test, you’ll minimize risk and increase trust in database development systems and processes. With that peace of mind, you can turn your attention to improving and optimizing these processes to meet business demands with speed and agility.

Manual and inefficient development processes hinder growth and speed of delivery

Speed and stability are at the center of the success metrics recommended by Accelerate and are not mutually exclusive. With a DevOps approach they are mutually supportive: you can increase the speed of delivery while protecting against instability of production systems.

A fundamental approach of database DevOps is to standardize team-based development and automate development and deployment processes. This leads to more efficient development, less time fixing problems, and more time spent on value-added work. Automating where possible further increases the reliability of deployments as they move through the pipeline and reduces the risk of issues in production.

Additionally, communities of practice enable standardization. This culture breeds innovation, experimentation, and shared learning, which in turn leads to a deduplication of effort and the adoption of best practices across multiple teams. It’s also the perfect opportunity to strengthen a collaborative and consultative relationship with other teams, rather than being a siloed gatekeeper.

Business growth puts pressure on infrastructure and the capacity of your DBA team

Increasing business demand leads to pressure on the bandwidth of the DBA team and the capacity of your server estate. As the estate grows, this isn’t a question of whether you should be monitoring your SQL Server estate. It’s one of how you keep on top of the growth to keep pace with increasing demand from the business, while minimizing the risks to deployments and production environments that go hand-in-hand with more frequent releases.

It’s a trend we’re seeing particularly in the Finance, Healthcare, Government, Technology, and Retail sectors, highlighted earlier this year by Redgate’s 2019 State of SQL Server Monitoring report.

It’s imperative that the stability of business systems is maintained, and issues can be detected and responded to quickly. Fortunately, monitoring tools are designed to give you a single view to monitor the health of production environments, as well as pinpoint the impact of deployments and provide the ability to dive into the detail quickly and efficiently, should the need arise. This leaves your DBA team more time to fix the issue and move on, while minimizing downtime and protecting their credibility. You can learn more about how to make your 2020 monitoring strategy a success by signing up for this free webinar.

Next steps

Adopting DevOps processes is a cultural shift and not a change that happens overnight, but you can start to reap benefits quickly and incrementally. The first step is to ensure DevOps is on the agenda for your 2020 IT strategy, with a proper seat at the table so you can ensure it’s a fully considered, planned, and resourced initiative.

Next, talk to a subject matter expert here at Redgate about your biggest pain points and challenges around your database development processes and SQL Server estate. They’ll advise specifically for your organization and support you with your business case.

Want to understand how other companies are keeping the database at the heart of their DevOps strategy? Read our latest customer stories.

 

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