Introducing DLM Consultants Part 5: DLM Bespoke Consultancy

This post is the final part of a series that introduces DLM Consultants and discusses each of the training and consulting packages that they offer:

This post is about the sort of bespoke consultancy packages that DLM Consultants can deliver. Perhaps your problems are too big for a short engagement or you want us to play a bigger role in solving them? Maybe you started with a health check, a workshop or a kick-starter package and you felt that you would benefit from more support? Whatever the reason, DLM Consultants is happy to deliver bespoke training or consulting packages that are tailored to your requirements and designed to unblock your database bottlenecks.

Bespoke means bespoke, so each package will be different. However, our bespoke packages will all be designed based on the understanding that we’ll solve problems with you, not for you. We believe this is the only effective way to unblock your database bottlenecks.

If you want a consultant to fix a problem for you – it’s not us

Your releases are delayed due to the slow, expensive and unreliable change management and deployment processes associated with your databases. You have to either delay releasing your stuff or avoid making changes to the database entirely by making bad architectural decisions that hurt later on.

You know you have a problem. You want an experienced expert to fix it for you so you don’t need to worry about it anymore. We get it – but I’m afraid that isn’t how we work, because it doesn’t work.

Database Lifecycle Management (DLM) is the process of applying Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) to databases. ALM is based on Continuous Delivery and DevOps principles. The principles at the heart of DevOps are summarised by the acronym CALMS, which starts with Culture and ends with Sharing.

As I mentioned in part 4 of this series, getting a consultant in to own and fix a specific problem so you don’t need to worry about it won’t help. That’s not the sort of work DLM Consultants will do. It is neither in the spirit of DevOps culture nor sharing.

Many of the problems associated with DLM are down to the organisational structures that are commonly associated with databases. It is common to have separate development and DBA functions who have specialist knowledge and very different objectives and incentives. As a result these silos think about releases differently. Releases are thrown ‘over the wall’. The left hand doesn’t talk to the right. As a result your database deployment process is inefficient and error prone.

Specialists are fantastic, but they are most useful when they work alongside people with different specialisms. If your developers don’t understand enough about production database issues make them work with DBAs. If DBAs don’t understand the difficulties that developers face when writing and testing new features make them work with developers.

If you already have DLM problems, introducing yet another silo in the form of a ‘DevOps team’ or a consultant that works independently of both developers and DBAs will only exacerbate your problems. It will not help you unblock your database bottleneck. If DLM Consultants took this strategy we would fail our mission.

We’ll work with you, solving problems collaboratively – and we’ll leave you self-sufficient

To solve your technical problems effectively will require various specialisms. These may be present in one individual or several, but all are required:

  1. You need someone with knowledge and experience of the problems associated with the development of your database(s) in the context of your organisation.
  2. You need someone with knowledge and experience associated with maintaining your production database(s) and your existing deployment processes in the context of your organisation.
  3. You need someone who has knowledge and experience implementing database version control, continuous integration and release pipelines and which strategies are appropriate for different technical and human challenges.

DLM Consultants can certainly support you with the third of these specialisms. For many organisations this is the crucial specialism that they lack. That is the reason they want to work with us and it is the reason we can help so effectively.

There are several ways to implement DLM, each with their own pros and cons. We can help you to design a pipeline suitable for your organisation that uses the correct industry standard approaches for your needs.

However, DLM Consultants cannot support you with the first or second specialism. (No consultant can do this effectively.) These skills and experience need to come from within your organisation because they require contextual knowledge and insights about your people and systems that no outside party can offer without spending lots of time learning your codebase, getting to know your people and witnessing problems for themselves, which is very expensive if you are paying consultant rates.

You may also need a strategy for developing the culture and filling knowledge gaps associated with DLM both within the management and the engineering functions (across all silos) in your organisation. DLM Consultants has experience delivering training and coaching on both DevOps culture and the various approaches to the technical implementation of DLM pipelines as well as which is appropriate for different scenarios.

However, DLM Consultants does not know anything about the organisational, cultural and political context of your organisation. We can definitely help to share the knowledge and train people, but we can’t do it effectively without knowing your people, their areas of expertise, their opinions and the ways they interact. We’ll need to work together.

We can work with you to unblock your database bottleneck. DLM Consultants can bring the knowledge and experience you need to succeed. But no person or organisation can come in by themselves and solve the DLM problem for you. If you commission someone to solve these problems so that you can focus on other things you’ll be creating another silo that will exacerbate your problems rather than solve them.

If we approach your DLM challenges collaboratively you’ll have developed some knowledge and experience internally that will help you to deliver your database updates frequently and reliably for yourself. That is worth far more than a particular implementation of a deployment pipeline for a particular database. We won’t just help you solve your existing problems, but we’ll equip you to avoid or solve future DLM challenges as well.

If you’d like to work together you can reach us here. Let’s start a conversation.

More from this series

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