Database continuous integration

What is database continuous integration?

To define database continuous integration we must first ask what is continuous integration? A cornerstone of the DevOps approach to software development and delivery, continuous integration is a highly automated process whereby each incremental change to an application is integrated with the whole application and the application is tested to verify that it still functions as expected. With database continuous integration, the full database is automatically built and tested after each change.

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Database continuous integration practices and tools

Database continuous integration is characterized by a core set of DevOps practices and tools, extended and tailored to the context of database development:

  • Developers check all their changes into a source control system (such as Github, CVS, or Subversion). Check-ins should be frequent and small, and should include any changes to scripts as well as changes to schemas or stored procedures.
  • A continuous integration server drives an automated build and test process. When DevOps practitioners consider what are DevOps tools, a CI server such as Jenkins, Bamboo, or TeamCity is usually first and foremost. In the context of database continuous integration, the CI server monitors the source control system for any checked-in changes to the database. When a change is detected the CI server triggers a build of the database, the loading of some test data, and the execution of unit tests.
  • Often for database continuous integration the CI server will also trigger an overnight testing of the database that is more rigorous and applies heavier load.
  • If any tests fail, the CI server automatically notifies the appropriate developers and the problems must be fixed before any additional development takes place. In a continuous integration development environment, getting a broken build back to working order is always the top priority.

Prioritizing the repair of a broken build is especially critical for organizations that strive for continuous delivery. In comparing continuous integration vs. continuous delivery, continuous delivery goes beyond CI by aiming to always have the latest good build be ready to deploy to production on short notice.

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Continuous database performance management with Dynatrace

Many organizations that practice continuous integration and delivery count Dynatrace among their most valued CI tools because it allows them to verify that each build meets not only functional requirements but also performance requirements. Dynatrace elevates database continuous integration by:

  • Monitoring and measuring the performance of your automated unit tests and nightly load tests, for key metrics including timings and resource utilization.
  • Automatically determining performance baselines and normal ranges, and identifying regressions between builds so that performance attributes become an integral part of build verification.
  • Providing developers with automated root cause analysis of performance regressions or bottlenecks, so that faulty builds can be repaired quickly.
  • Supporting all major database systems, as well as cloud database services such as for organizations implementing AWS continuous integration.
  • Monitoring and analyzing the database usage patterns of your user-facing applications in development and in production.

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