04/6/20

Why and When You Need Transactional DDL in Your Database

We typically talk about transactions in the context of Data Manipulation Language (DML), but the same principles apply when we talk about Data Definition Language (DDL). As databases increasingly include transactional DDL, we should stop and think about the history of transactional DDL. Transactional DDL can help with application availability by allowing you perform multiple modifications in a single operation, making software upgrades simpler. You’re less likely to find yourself dealing with a partially upgraded system that requires your database administrator (DBA) to go in and fix everything by hand, losing hours of their time and slowing your software delivery down.

WHY DO YOU CARE?

If you make a change to application code and something doesn’t work, you don’t want to have to deal with a complicated recovery. You want the database to be able to roll it back automatically so you get back to a working state very rapidly. Today, very often people don’t write code for databases, they have frameworks that do it (Hibernate, for example). This makes it impossible for a software engineer to write the code properly, or roll it back, because they don’t work on that level. When you make changes using rolling application upgrades, it is simpler, less likely to fail, and more obvious what to do when you do experience a failure.

With transactional DDL, it’s far less likely that you will have to deal with a partially upgraded system that has essentially ground your application to a stop. Partial upgrades like that may require your database administrator (DBA) to go in and fix everything by hand, losing hours of their time and slowing your software delivery down. With transactional DDL, you can roll back to the last working upgrade and resolve the issues rapidly, without taking your software delivery system or your application offline.

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