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I love automating processes, especially when it comes to managing SQL Server, and I think that most processes should be automated.
So technically there are two tasks for this month:
- What is your go-to technology for automation?
- What do you want to automate or what automation are you proud of completing?
For me, a process can be automated when:
- It’s repetitive
- Takes a long time to execute
- And needs human interaction
I will go far to automate a process. I’d rather spend a week developing a process to get it automated, than to execute it twice and spend lots of time on it.
What is your go-to technology for automation?
In the last couple of years I’ve automated a whole bunch of processes using different technologies to accomplish that. My go-to technologies for automating are PowerShell, DevOps, tSQLt and dbatools.
You might say; “dbatools is PowerShell right?”, and you’re correct, but this module has grown so much that it has to be mentioned on it’s own.
I’ve been working with PowerShell since version 1. I fell in love with it especially because it filled a hole that we needed something else than a GUI to manage our infrastructure.
PowerShell is my hammer to automate about anything. It crosses multiple domains within the Windows universe, from managing your domains, your users, servers, services.
The PowerShell team has done a great job to make this platform as versatile as possible for anyone to use.
This part is still kind of new for me and I find that this technology uses different technologies to accomplish the job.
Technologies like Groovy for the pipeline script, PowerShell to execute certain tasks, dbatools to execute some other.
I like Jenkins because it let’s me define exactly what I want to do and it doesn’t have a big learning curve.
Octopus Deploy hooks into the part where Jenkins is finished. Creating releases, deploying them to different servers makes it this CI/CD process complete.
This technology has saved my life. I never did a lot of development but I know how to develop a database. In the past I made changes, pushed the changes to a development server and crossed my fingers if I didn’t break anything.
With tSQLt I have the ability to create unit tests for SQL Server databases to test every little aspect of my database.
If a small change in the schema breaks a procedure I will know before I release it.
I will be presenting about this subject in the near future and help people along the way because I think this needs to be used a lot more.
Last but not least, dbatools. This project changed my life in several ways.
First, it taught me how to develop in a lage open-source project. To have standards and how to handle commits. I did not know Git that well before I started contributing and now I’m one of the major contributors.
Second, it gave me the ability to help others. Having several scripts laying around, that could easily be transformed to proper functions/commands that could be used by other people. If I had that problem there is bound to be someone else that has the same and I could save this person a lot of headache.
Third, it made my automate a lot of processes for myself. Think of the backup testing command “Test-DbaLastBackup“. This command tests your backup by restoring it, doing a DBCC check and returns the result back to you.
You will know if you’re backup can be restored and if that data within the backup is not corrupted.
If you have not worked with dbatools yet, make sure you start with it today. It will change your life as a database administrator or developer.
Fourth, and this one comes with contributing to the project, is that I met a lot of incredible people from the community. I love the community how they share their knowledge and help other people out.
What do I want to automate
I’ve been working on automating our releases for database development.
This process has taken a considerable amount of time because I had no knowledge and experience in that area.
I have almost finished that process and I’m glad to say that this year I’ll have a CI/CD pipeline with Visual Studio, Git, Jenkins and Octopus Deploy.
My next project will be to implement data masking making it possible to ship databases to other servers and people without exposing production data.
What automation are you proud of completing
These are several projects that I’m proud of:
- Log Shipping with dbatools
- Decryption of SQL Server objects
- Data Masking for SQL Server databases
- Cloning SQL Server databases
- Unit testing databases with tSQLt
- And more
The pattern is getting obvious. Automate repetitive, pain-staking processes.
Change your mindset to embrace automation and you never want to go back.
I have less and less time to get things done.
My agenda is filled with meetings, project deadlines and we get more and more things on my plate.
Start automating your work today. You have to put in some energy in getting to automate your processes, but you’ll never look back.