Modern DevOps Tools Must ‘Walk the Talk’
Getting in Shape
Imagine you plan to get in shape and enlist the help of a personal fitness trainer. Would you ever commit to a fitness trainer who was a chain-smoking fast food lover, and largely incapable of doing any of the exercises that you would be paying them for? Or, to use another analogy, would you purchase a college calculus textbook written and sold by a grade school student who has never taken calculus – and then pay them for tutoring services on top?!
In both these seemingly outrageous scenarios, the answer is a resounding “NO!”. However, many enterprises are making this exact mistake when purchasing DevOps tools. Transforming software delivery isn’t simply a matter of throwing technology at your software development teams. Yes, you certainly do need technology – but just as important is a software vendor who can partner with your organization and help your teams through the process and cultural changes.
Unfortunately, in a crusade to quickly achieve digital transformation and claim success with DevOps, enterprises are purchasing and deploying tools from software vendors that resemble the fast food loving, chain smoking personal fitness trainer. They are purchasing from software vendors selling products with archaic, outdated architectures that will not scale across the multitude of environments typical in a large enterprise. Enterprises are partnering with software vendors that employ development and support staff who are totally unfamiliar with the latest tools and technologies for building robust, enterprise-class offerings.
It’s time that enterprises expect more from software vendors. Here’s a tip: if the vendor you are purchasing a “DevOps” tool from cannot themselves live up to the promises they “guarantee”, walk away.
So, take a step back and adopt a broader perspective. I’m sure you are thinking “hey – we have a rigorous proof-of-concept (PoC) evaluation process! We do a great job of tool selection.”. I have bad news. Having witnessed far too many hastily assembled, ill-conceived use cases and requirements brought forth by enterprise teams for PoC evaluations – they are too tactical and myopic. It’s akin to asking the un-fit personal trainer to show you that they can bicep curl what you imagine to be an impressive weight. Maybe they can, but that doesn’t mean you should pay them to be your personal trainer.
In addition to the detailed technical evaluation that is inevitably a part of a PoC, be sure to explore the following about the vendor and solution:
- Is the tool easy to install in any environment – on-premise, in the cloud, on whatever operating system you prefer, etc.?
Why it matters: The more difficult it is to consume a solution (and the more rigid a solution), the harder it is to adopt and standardize across a large enterprise.
- Does the tool support high availability (HA) and disaster recovery (DR)?
Why it matters: HA and DR are crucial to core enterprise services – can you quantify the lost productivity if your build services went down and tens of thousands of developers had to wait days or hours just to do a build?!
- Does the vendor have an adequate support policy and is their development and support staff familiar and comfortable modern tools, technologies, and frameworks?
Why it matters: DevOps isn’t just a technology sale – it is about finding vendors who can partner with you integrate their solution into your workflow and help your teams adopt their tool. You don’t want to be waiting days to get help with your tooling and you want to work with a vendor who can guide your team’s workflow to better leverage the latest web framework, move to containers and microservices, shift from on-premise to cloud platforms, and so on.
With that framework in place, let’s get specific. Datical is in the database release automation space – an area that is starting to really take off as more and more enterprises realize that database change deployments are a critical bottleneck to their overall software delivery process. How do some of the tools in the space stack up? We’ll consider a mix of popular open-source and commercial solutions, including Liquibase, Flyway, DBmaestro, Redgate, and Datical.
Ease of Installation:
- Simple, open source solutions for database version control such as Liquibase and Flyway can be installed quickly and easily as they are essentially command line utilities that install on any host operating system.
- Redgate and DBmaestro both require a Windows host. Windows licenses can get expensive, but you might not mind if you are all-in with Microsoft. This limitation turns into a nightmare if the rest of your tooling runs on Linux (often the case with DevOps tools) or if you have to support cross-platform development and build tools.
- Datical can be installed on any host operating system. Given that Datical is comprised of containerized microservices, it’s easy to scale Datical across the enterprise – including on-premise, hybrid, and purely cloud environments.
High Availability and Disaster Recovery:
- Liquibase, Flyway, Redgate, and DBmaestro do not have high availability or disaster recovery capabilities for their tools. A showstopper if any of these tools are to be an integral and standard part of your enterprise software delivery pipeline.
- Datical relies on Kubernetes to provide high-availability and disaster recovery regardless of where you are hosting your build and release tools.
Vendor support model and familiarity with modern tools, technologies and frameworks:
- Liquibase is an open source project maintained by the team at Datical. As such, there is no service or support provided with Liquibase at the moment.
- Flyway offers basic service and support with SLAs that are usually deemed inadequate and unacceptable for most large enterprises. The ‘Enterprise Edition’ only guarantees an email response in two business days.
- DBmaestro does not have a public facing support policy and instead directs users to an online form.
- Redgate and Datical both have well documented public facing support policies. Datical’s SLA for SEV1 issues is a response within 1 hour; Redgate’s Premier Support promises a response within 2 hours during support hours for their SQL Monitor product.
- Datical is the only vendor with a product that is built with dockerized microservices. Development and support staff are familiar with the latest tools, such as Docker and Kubernetes – meaning your teams can further benefit from the knowledge and experience of Datical’s staff.
The process of transforming software delivery is perilous. It takes even the best of organizations years to fully implement and achieve continuous integration and continuous delivery. Before you get out your wallet to throw more dollars towards an enterprise DevOps tool – puns intended: ask yourself if would you rather have an old, obese, unhealthy trainer helping you get lean – or if you would rather spend the money with someone demonstrably agile?
To learn more about how Datical’s modern approach for Database DevOps ‘Walks the Talk’ please check out our Product Walkthru Video Series.