Database Deployments - A Primary Challenge to Accelerating Application Releases
June 06, 2019

Database deployments continue to be a software delivery bottleneck, a process that has not improved within the past year, according to The 2019 State of Database Deployments in Application Delivery, a report from Datical based on research conducted by Dimensional Research.

Additionally, the growing pressure to deliver application updates faster is greater than ever before. Companies with the fastest application release cycles suffered the biggest impact from slow, manual deployment of database schema changes.

The report is based on a survey of application developers, application release engineers, enterprise architects, and DevOps engineers. Of those, 92% reported it is difficult to accelerate the deployment of database schema changes in an effort to match the pace at which they deploy application code changes. This finding shows there has been no improvement as the same statistic was reported last year.

The process of deploying database schema changes is very complex and demanding. It frequently involves spending hours, if not days, manually reviewing and validating every database change script and schema change within those scripts. In fact, 91% of survey respondents reported they have to re-work database changes multiple times before they are ready for production deployment. This backs up another key finding among survey participants — 80% agree that it takes longer to deploy database code changes than other types of code changes.

Moreover, neglecting the database deployment process has proven to have significant business impacts. Enterprises rely on mission-critical applications and their databases to run the business and drive the customer experience. If database change errors occur and are not resolved quickly, application performance can suffer, service outages can occur, and the risk of data loss increases — all leading to brand reputation damage. The research found that 84% of application stakeholders had serious production issues due to database change errors; 57% of all application changes require a corresponding database schema change; and 88% report taking more than an hour to resolve these schema change issues, up from 81% a year ago.

“The lack of automated testing, change validation, and code deployment around database releases are the biggest threat to an organization’s ability to accelerate application delivery and keep pace with customer demands,” said Robert Reeves, CTO and co-founder of Datical. “As executives search for ways to accelerate application delivery and remove errors, the resolution is simple — automate the database release process. This survey proves the database release process is a significant bottleneck to application delivery. Those that don’t automate this process will see initiatives like agile and DevOps fail.”

The overwhelming majority (92%) of enterprises realize that automating database deployments provides tremendous business value and accelerates overall application release cycles. According to survey respondents, the top benefits of database release automation include the ability for developers to find and fix database schema change errors faster (65%), reduced application downtime because of fewer, bad database schema changes (60%), and removing database deployment process bottlenecks in the application release process (52%).

“This research clearly shows the database deployment process is often considered the most frequent source of bottlenecks and risk to the application release cycle. This indicates a need to deliver error-free application experiences faster without increasing risk,” said Diane Hagglund, Principal Researcher at Dimensional Research. “This research clearly indicates that organizations see the benefits of automating their database deployment process, especially since the data proves that deployments get hard as application release cycles get faster.”

Survey Methodology and Participant Demographics: The State of Database Deployments in Application Delivery survey, commissioned by Datical, was conducted in March 2019 and gathered responses from a total of 307 highly qualified application developers, application release managers, enterprise architects, and DevOps professionals at large enterprises. All had the responsibility for mission-critical applications that connected to enterprise databases, which included a mix of job levels, application responsibilities, databases used, and industry verticals.

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