Liquibase Celebrates 15 Years Of Improving Database Release Quality & Speed

Liquibase plays an important role in the DevOps journey

Liquibase, the company behind the most powerful community-led database change management solution, is celebrating 15 years of the Liquibase open source project. What began in 2006 as a small personal side project is now used by millions of users in more than 139 countries.

15 Years of Database Change

In 2006, Nathan Voxland, then an engineer for Sundog, had a challenge he needed to solve: Sundog’s many different client projects used a variety of different databases and it was getting increasingly difficult to ensure changes made in development reached production.

Voxland was primarily using Java and couldn’t find anything that solved this problem at the time. “Apache ddlutils didn’t track changes. Rails Active Record Migrations used Ruby and at that time, the change tracking didn’t work across multiple branches and multiple developers”, recalled Voxland. “I had recently read Refactoring Databases: Evolutionary Database Design which inspired me to think about database changes as a series of refactorings.” This led to higher-level refactorings available in Liquibase such as addLookupTable.

Liquibase began with the following initial requirements that remain unchanged today:

  • Support multiple database types (and even the same code running against different database types)
  • Support multiple developers and multiple branches under concurrent development
  • Push updates to the database schema along with updates to the code without losing data or missing changes
  • Store database changes along with source code into a source code control system

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View Liquibase timeline

DevOps for the Database

The term “DevOps” was coined in 2009 by Patrick Debois — nearly three years after Voxland started the Liquibase open source project. DORA began collecting data for their State of DevOps Reports in 2014. A consistent key finding in the reports is that integrating database change management into your DevOps toolchain early in the process drives higher performance.

“When you forget the database when implementing DevOps, you are going to have problems”, said Robert Reeves, CTO of Liquibase. “Nearly all application changes will require a database change. If those changes are not aligned with your application changes, you’re not making the most of your DevOps investment. You will not see the returned value from your DevOps initiatives until you include the database.” This problem gets worse as applications are released faster due to DevOps, which is why Liquibase is a popular tool to help teams of all sizes improve their release speed and quality.

“Liquibase has completely changed how we look at and approach database schema migrations,” said Erin Kolp, Manager of Infrastructure Engineering at KickBack Rewards Systems. “Changesets are quick, clean, and easily repeatable across our fleet. Thanks to Liquibase and the many open source integrations available, we built out a reliable GitOps solution that we use to drive efficiencies across the organization.”

A Bright Future for Liquibase & its Open Source Community

Since the initial release of Liquibase, there have been 102 releases with the help of over 1200 open source contributors.

Recently, Liquibase has added support for more databases, including cloud-based databases such as CockroachDB and Google Cloud Spanner, as well as NoSQL databases, such as MongoDB and CosmosDB.

“The recent seismic shifts in IT have created a world where innovation doesn’t have to be fettered by infrastructure,” said Pete Pickerill, Co-founder & Director of Product at Liquibase. “Accelerating cloud adoption, automation and the proliferation of database platforms are revolutionizing how software is built and how frequently it gets delivered to the people that need it.” Liquibase is squarely focused on helping their community take full advantage of these opportunities by focusing on platform coverage, governance, and the emerging patterns in CICD. “It’s funny to say that Liquibase’s time has come 15 years after Nathan identified the problem and did something about it, but that’s exactly where we find ourselves,” added Pickerill.

Liquibase has grown far more than Voxland imagined when he started it as a fun side project 15 years ago. “I released it as an open source project because I wanted a chance to contribute back to the community and to see what it was like on the other side of an open source project,” says Voxland. “I’ve always been a believer in open source, and managing Liquibase has only solidified that belief because Liquibase could not be what it is today without the community around it.”

As part of the 15-year celebration, Liquibase is offering 15% off of Liquibase Pro which offers support and advanced Liquibase capabilities.

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