Diving into DevOps

Opening a DevOps Bottleneck

One of the more interesting product announcements to come out of the Oracle OpenWorld Conference, currently underway in San Francisco, is a new tool from Quest Software: the Toad DevOps Toolkit.

Toad (Tool for Oracle Application Developers) is a database management toolset that's been around for nearly 20 years, and Quest, the global systems management and security software company that provides it, doesn't often bring out new products in this line.

That alone makes this announcement noteworthy, but the reason this release should get serious attention from some organizations pursuing DevOps initiatives is that it addresses a potential bottleneck in the continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) pipeline: Oracle database changes.

"Agile has been around for well over a decade, but database developers are often still following a waterfall release process, with typically two- to three-month release cycles," said John Pocknell, a senior product manager at Quest, told ADTmag. "That's a serious bottleneck we've been hearing about from our customers who are moving into DevOps, and this gives them a way to deal with it."

One way of looking at DevOps is that it's about building, testing, and releasing software quickly and frequently by implementing Agile methods across Dev and Ops. But if application updates require changes to the database, that process can break down. Databases are historically developed and managed differently, because of their complexity, development process, and sensitive nature, the company explained in a press release. Also, database development often "lacks code testing and reviews, source control controls, and the ability to integrate with existing build automation processes, which are critical to preventing errors impacting production systems."

The Toad DevOps Toolkit is designed to help organizations automate changes to their Oracle databases within their existing DevOps continuous integration/continuous delivery (CICD) processes, Pocknell said. The toolkit leverages existing Toad features to allow developers and DBAs to automate many of the critical database development functions within existing DevOps workflows, he said.

"We've taken features that already exist in Toad -- things like database code unit testing, database code QA reviews, integration with source control systems -- and we've made it possible to programmatically call those functions as part of an automated build process inside Jenkins, or Bamboo, or TFS, or whatever you're using. What that effectively does is enable those functions to become automated functions within that build process, with all the checks and balances necessary to ensure a quality deployment into production."

The list of features and capabilities in the Toad for DevOps Toolkit includes:

  • Test PL/SQL against pre-defined requirements. The Code Tester feature helps test functionality of code to ensure quality during the automated build process and through continuous integration and deployment.
  • Perform static code reviews. Code Analysis provides an automated way to determine minimum quality level threshold during code reviews to relieve the challenges associated with reviewing coding standards.
  • Compare and sync among source and target DBs and generate sync scripts. Ensures schema, data, and database integrity when deploying changes across database types (for example, from developer databases to quality assurance databases), and generates change scripts to deploy build artifacts into the DevOps pipeline.
  • Promote build artifacts into target environments to visualize successes and failures. Script execution simplifies the process of implementing changes.
  • Integrate into virtually any CI/CD tool: The Toad DevOps Toolkit is easily integrated into popular tools such as Jenkins, Bamboo and Maven.

"All of our customers currently engaged in DevOps, bar none, realize they have to think about implementing these database development functions," Pocknell added.

Quest showcased the toolkit at the OpenWorld conference (booth #5401). The company plans to release the Toad DevOps Toolkit in November along with Toad for Oracle 2017 R2.

About the Author

John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of Converge360.com sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS.  He can be reached at [email protected].