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SQL Server 2012 Brings DBAs and Developers Together

SQL Server 2012 Brings DBAs and Developers Together

There has always been tension between developers and DBAs. This tension also exists between developers and IT folks in general. However, the latest version of SQL Server is another step that Microsoft has taken to gradually bring these groups together through a great set of tools.

The tension between developers and DBAs lies in the fundamental differences in each role's mindset that goes into making an application successful and effective in an organization. Developers have always been strongly incented to deliver software quickly, because there's no better way to determine a feature's usefulness than to get the application into the user's hands. A developer's key to success is to change features early and often.

But operations personnel and DBAs see things very differently. Success for operations personnel is measured on factors such as the reliability of systems and the integrity of the data. Change for operations personnel is a very dangerous creature. A mistake made by a developer can destroy an awful lot of customer data in very little time. And although a programming mistake that's made by a developer can be easily fixed, repairing the data can take a long time and is sometimes impossible.

But what does this have to do with SQL Server 2012? It's the latest versions of the tools. Rapid application development and agile methodology tools are commonly used by developers, but these tools aren't frequently used by DBAs. In the past few versions of SQL Server, more and more of the tooling has actually been a modified version of Microsoft Visual Studio. In SQL Server 2012, the modified tooling is finally going away. The primary client for SQL Server 2012 is actually Visual Studio 2010 with some plug-ins.

One of the most significant but seriously underutilized feature is Visual Studio's data tools. By using Visual Studio's data tools, users can treat a database and its schema, constraints, and stored procedures as source code. For the most part, database code is source code, which is a series of commands to create the database, constraints, and code in the stored procedures. But you can't treat database code like software source code because of the effect it has on the data. And that's where Visual Studio's data tools shine.

Built into the data tools are engines that automate the process of taking modified database code (which includes changes to the database schema and constraints) and building the scripts to modify the database without destroying data. In addition, the data tools can facilitate a rollback to a previous version of the database!

Sure, it's possible for DBAs to perform these tricks by hand, but it's difficult, time-consuming, and fraught with peril. Automation is the way to go, and Microsoft has brought even more automation and support with SQL Server 2012 that will surely bring developers and DBAs together. The net result is better software.

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