Introducing DLM Consultants Part 2: DLM Health Check

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

Patching the symptoms, or solving the problem?

In 2010 I started at Redgate as a graduate sales person and I used to have the same conversation several times a day:

A customer would call in. They wanted to buy SQL Compare to help with their deployments. It sounds like a sensible conclusion to come to. “My deployments are painful. It’s is an expensive problem. I want to spend a few hundred bucks on the best database comparison software on the market. I can probably expense it anyway.” And Redgate sold the best SQL Server comparison tool. It was an easy sale.

But here’s the thing – it was just a patch over the real problem. To understand the real problem took some discussion and analysis. I’d ask questions like “what changes are you deploying?”, “why are these changes being deployed?” and “who wrote the changes?” I’d also ask why the deployments are normally so painful. I would ask how they knew whether the changes had been tested, and whether the deployment had be tested in a staging environment of some sort. The answers we always “no”. “No, I don’t know, I’ll ask Bob.”

And that’s how I, a graduate sales person, started coaching DBAs about source control, continuous integration and release management.

And it’s why I got repeat business.

The customers I worked with started improving their Database Lifecycle Management (DLM) processes. They stopped using SQL Compare to mask the symptoms of a problem and they started using the Redgate technologies in a smarter way to solve the core issues.

Fast forward the best part of a decade…

DLM Consultants announce their DLM health check

Our DLM health check is designed to facilitate the same sort of conversation.

We’ll come onsite for between two and four days. We’ll expect to speak to everyone who has a role in making a change and getting it to production. In some organisations that might mean the development team, a testing team, the DBA or release team, any stakeholders whose approval is required and end users. In other organisations it might just be the one person who manages the end to end process. We’d also like to speak to the business/budget owner. Depending on the size of your business this might take more or less time but for most we expect that 2 to 4 days is enough to make some real progress.

One exercise we’d like to try is to watch you make a change in development and see how that progresses through your pipeline. We’d like to see every step involved to get that change pushed live. (Is that possible in a two to four day visit?) We’d like to know which people need to be involved. Sometimes simply going through these paces formally can be enlightening for our clients because they begin to spot things they didn’t see before.

Since one of the first steps with DLM is to keep track of who is making what changes in what environments, if you’d like to we’ll implement Redgate DLM Dashboard with you (assuming you aren’t already using it). This is a free tool from Redgate software that will alert you to any ‘drift’ on your databases with a visual diff pane the details of the user account that executed the change, the script that was executed and the software that was used to execute it.

At the end of the visit we’ll write up our conclusions and deliver a readout. This readout will include some recommendations about the steps you need to take in order to improve your DLM processes in line with the organisations requirements. These recommendations may or may not include DLM Consultants.

The objective of the DLM health check is to work with organisations to help them to think critically about their own deployment pipelines and to give them a clear understanding of where they are right now compared to the rest of the industry, what improvements are possible/practical and what they need to do to get there.

The rest is up to them. DLM Consultants can continue to help with the journey if it’s appropriate.

More from this series

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