Introducing DLM Consultants Part 4: DLM Kick-starter

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

If you want something done right… don’t reinvent the wheel

Sometimes, just sometimes, a client knows exactly where they want to get to with DLM (Database Lifecycle Management) and they have a fairly good idea how they want to get there. “We need to manage our database changes better and we’ll do that by adopting source control”. “We want to improve the quality of our database code and we’ll do that by adopting continuous integration”. They just need some help with the details. It can be useful to have an expert sit with them to make sure they get it done quickly (time is money) and to make sure they get it done right (this is an investment, don’t make mistakes now that will cost you every day).

I’ve seen some truly terrible home-grown solutions that some wizz developer left behind. That’s often the perfect profile of the sorts of organisations that rang my line at Redgate. They were looking for help to sort out the mess some bright spark thought up. Sometimes it helps organisations to bring in someone with experience in the field to sit next to them while they set something important up to make sure they adopt standard conventions and best practices that will make their pipeline more reliable, efficient and easier to maintain in the future.

And sometimes it’s useful, when you need to train a team to use some new software or to change the way they think about database development, if someone else has already spent several years fine tuning a DLM training program.

The pictured example (above) was a bit different. This was a financial services company in North America that had too many teams going about things in their own way. Over a hundred developers from over a dozen teams were submitting database updates without any standardised process. Some weren’t even using source control and those that were weren’t doing it in a consistent way. This made the job enormously difficult for the production DBA (the guy on the left) who had to review and deploy each change manually, without much notice.

During this visit my old colleague (who now works at ThoughtWorks) and I helped them to understand how the end to end DLM process should look and we created two proof of concepts to trial alternative solutions. We only spent a few days together but we left them with a much better understanding of their pipeline.

Several months on they were able to standardise the way they managed changes, achieving enormous gains in productivity and reliability. That production DBA also said some nice things about the visit that you can read on our website.

That experience was one of the best I had at Redgate. It was one of the earliest seeds in my mind that developed to form DLM Consultants.

Yesterday I described the public DLM workshops that we’ll be running every Monday. That leaves four more days in a week, which is more than enough to make a good deal of progress getting our hands dirty with someone’s DLM pipeline.

Perhaps you need to get a proof of concept up and running using either Redgate tools or something else. (Remember, DLM consultants have experience using many different tools and approaches.) Perhaps you want to roll it out across some real databases. Once you do you need to make sure your team are trained appropriately to use it. They need to understand both the software and the process, but also the human and cultural aspects of DevOps or continuous delivery that underpin *everything*.

DLM Consultants’ DLM Kick-starter package is designed to get you moving – and to get you self-sufficient

The worst cases I’ve seen have been where a consulting firm has come in to build some highly customised pipeline from scratch. Before you know it the client is locked in to paying the consulting firm to maintain the software and manage the pipeline for them. They start haemorrhaging money and aren’t able to adopt new tools or ideas because they are so locked in to some solution that no-one understands. It drives me mad.

I’ll be damned if that’s the sort of consulting firm that I’m ever going to be associated with.

(Please… do quote me on that.)

Collaboration is a fundamental part of DevOps. CALMS starts with Collaboration. It is essential to break down silos and work collaboratively. The pipeline should be visible to everyone and the deployment should not rely on any particular person or group. What if they get hit by a bus win the lottery and quit?

Our philosophy at DLM Consultants is that wherever possible we won’t touch the keyboard. It’s our job to train you, not build it for you. We want to leave you capable of managing your own pipelines. That’s the most efficient way for us to unblock your database bottleneck. We don’t want to buy you a fish, we want to teach you to fish for yourself.

We’ll talk to you in some detail in advance, and we might give you some tasks to carry out on the Monday to ensure you are prepared. Then from Tuesday to Friday we’ll provide training for your team, possibly including bespoke DLM workshops, and we’ll pair with you to set the thing up.

We’ll leave you with the knowledge and (hopefully) a working thing that everyone will understand. It won’t be a nightmare to maintain because wherever possible we won’t reinvent the wheel, we’ll just apply the most appropriate of the many well documented solutions to the particular problem we are trying to solve.

We’re open with our prices too. It’ll cost £3,995 plus expenses. How much is your DLM process worth? If the database is a bottleneck for you, I can assure you it’s worth more than that. DLM Consultants can help.

If you are interested, you can contact us through our website.

More from this series

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