SQL is No Excuse to Avoid DevOps


A friend recently said to me, “We can’t do DevOps, we use a SQL database.” I nearly fell off my chair. Such a statement is wrong on many levels.

“But you don’t understand our situation!” he rebuffed. “DevOps means we’ll be deploying new releases of our software more frequently! We can barely handle deployments now and we only do it a few times a year!”

I asked him about his current deployment process. …

Let me start by clearing up a number of misconceptions. Then let’s talk about some techniques for making those deployments much, much easier.

First, DevOps is not a technology, it is a methodology. 

DevOps doesn’t require or forbid any particular database technology—or any technology, for that matter. Saying you can or cannot “do DevOps” because you use a particular technology is like saying you can’t apply agile to a project that uses a particular language. SQL may be a common “excuse of the month,” but it is a weak excuse.

I understand how DevOps and the lack of SQL databases could become inexorably linked in some people’s minds. In the 2000s and early 2010s companies that were inventing and popularizing DevOps were frequently big websites that were, by coincidence, also popularizing NoSQL (key/value store) databases. Linking the two, however, is confusing correlation with causation. Those same companies were also popularizing providing gourmet lunches to employees at no charge. We can all agree that is not a prerequisite for DevOps.

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