Delphix and the agile data platform

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Content Copyright © 2014 Bloor. All Rights Reserved.
Also posted on: The IM Blog

Delphix is an interesting company with a unique technology. Whether the company’s name has anything to do with the Oracle at Delphi I don’t know—I forgot to ask—but the company’s headquarters are in Menlo Park, which may be suggestive, but in any case it isn’t especially relevant.

The company describes its core product—the Agile Data Platform—as doing for data what Hypervisor does for servers. In other words it provides a logical copy of your data (including all binaries, configuration files and so on) that looks like a physical copy but isn’t. Currently this is available for SQL Server, Oracle (so perhaps the name is relevant), and PostgreSQL, with SAP (previously Sybase) ASE planned for future release. There are also versions that support SAP and Oracle eBusiness Suite application environments.

What does this give you? Well, it means that you can make virtual copies of your database available to development, testing, Q&A or for reporting. In other words, if we talk about test data management for a moment, it mean that you can develop and test against (a copy of) your complete database without either having to subset it or needing a database administrator create a new physical instance of that database and, indeed, without having to pay the license fees for that instance. And given that most large systems can have numbers of non-production instances of a database measured in double figures that can result in significant savings.

Sticking with test data management for a moment, the one possible downside is that the company does not offer its own data masking capabilities though you could of course use a third party product. Unfortunately for Delphix most of the vendors in the data masking space also offer at least database subsetting so this might create a conflict of interest. As a result I understand that Delphix is currently finalising an OEM agreement with a masking vendor.

Moving on from test data management and development environments in general there are also a number of specific use cases that Delphix addresses. For example, consolidations and migrations (and particularly migrating data centres to the Cloud). One specific capability supported is for migration from UNIX to Linux. There is also a facility called Live Archive, which provides compressed snapshots of the environment at determined points in time so you can do things like retrospectively audit the data: and you can also reactivate the data if you find a problem.

Most recently, the company recently introduced a new product called the Data Modernization Engine—targeted at what its name suggests—based on the Agile Data Platform. It includes the UNIX to Linux conversion already mentioned and application/file virtualisation as an extension to the virtualisation that was previously limited to the database only. The way that Delphix actually works is that it uses the database’s API to take what is, in effect, a one-time back up of the data; this is then compressed and a virtual copy is provisioned. As updates occur change blocks are used to update the virtual copy.

As far as its go to market strategy is concerned Delphix targets both end users (it is active in the UK, Australia and South America as well as North America, and has distributors in Japan) as well as systems integrators. Generally, customers run Delphix locally but some partners (for example Sungard) offer Delphix functionality as a service.

Anyway: interesting stuff.