Bancolombia S.A. Implements DevOps for Database Practice with Liquibase

Bancolombia S.A., founded in 1875, is the largest financial institution in Colombia with presence in 300 cities. The company also has a presence in 10 countries including Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, Nicaragua, Peru, and the Cayman Islands. Bancolombia has a long history of innovation which includes launching Latin America's first credit card in 1969, bringing ATMs into operation in 1985, launching the first on-line capabilities for individual customers in 1996, and launching the first e-credit card for online purchases in 2000.

Bancolombia counts more than 3,000 engineers in the IT area working in several apps and technologies and the company’s leadership team understands the importance of technology innovation to meet the high service expectations of banking customers. To execute on this vision, the DevOps and Database Management teams, headed by Santiago Cadavid and Nelson Martinez, championed the project to enable DevOps for database deployments across the bank and for all applications regardless of environment or database.

Company Strategy for Growth

The strategy for the bank is to grow and ensure profitability by creating new revenue streams, delivering products faster to clients, and reducing operational expenses. To execute this strategy, Bancolombia focused on the innovation and automation required to support the delivery of the digital experience to acquire, service, and keep customers.

With the database component, the goals for using Liquibase to support this strategy include:

  • Enabling database change management tracking
  • Reducing the average cycle time to 20 minutes per deployment per environment
  • Creating controls in our pipeline process for governance
  • Reducing silos within our organization
  • Incorporate a simple way to order and perform database changes

Key Project Drivers for Database DevOps Initiative

Bancolombia was making progress with its agile, cloud, and DevOps initiatives but noticed the weak link in the process was the database. Automation existed for application development and releases but there was no automation within Bancolombia for changing the database. The company recognized that it needed to select a strategic partner (it selected Liquibase) and the software product should be easily work with its existing release management investments (Azure DevOps). It also needed to align different areas of the IT group, including dataset administration, DevOps, cloud, and development; and implement, automate, and align the delivery of database changes and continuously assess the tool during project implementation. Another concern was ensuring that DBAs were not performing unnecessary, time-consuming work so they are more productive.

The Impact

Since implementing the new initiative:

  • Bancolombia has dramatically reduced time-to-market and improved lead time
  • Its DBAs are much more productive and are able to focus on more important tasks
  • Ordering and managing database changes is much simpler
  • It can ensure continuous security and rules compliance on its continuous integration pipelines
  • It has sped up the deployment frequency of the applications
  • It has created a consistent release management practice between the application and the database

Looking to the Future

Bancolombia’s goal for 2021 is to migrate 120 additional projects to its new DevOps-for-database practice and to deploy Liquibase DMC in order to get audit insights.