Category Archives: Delphix

Will the real data virtualization please stand up?

There is a post from a good friend at Oracle entitled “Will the REAL SnapClone functionality please stand up?” and, as well-written and technically rich as the post is, I am particularly moved to comment on the very last and conclusive sentence in the post…

So with all of that, why would you look at a point solution that only covers one part of managing your Oracle infrastructure?

The post does not refer to Delphix by name, and it could in fact be referring to any number of companies, but Delphix is the market leader in this space, so it is reasonable to assume that the “Product X” mentioned throughout the post is Delphix.  The same holds true for any post commenting on relational database technology, which can reasonably be assumed to refer to Oracle.  Regardless, I was struck by the use of the phrase point solution in that final sentence of the post, and how it really is a matter of perspective, and how interesting is that perspective.

First of all, before we go any further, please let me say that, as an Oracle DBA for the past 20 years, I think that the current release of Oracle’s Enterprise Manager, EM12c, is the finest and most complete release of the product since I tested early versions of Oracle EM alongside the Oracle8i database in the late 1990s.  At that time, the product was full of promise, but it wasn’t something upon which an enterprise could truly rely.  That has certainly changed, and it has been a long time coming, starting with the advent of utilities like AWR, ASH, and Active Session History.  If you have extensive Oracle technology in your organization, you should be using EM12c to manage it.  Not EM11g, or EM10g, but EM12c.  It really is that good, and it is getting better, and there are talented people behind it, and you simply need it if you want to maximize your investment in Oracle technology.

But just because EM12c is the center of the universe of Oracle technology, what about organizations for whom Oracle technology is merely a component?  Many organizations have diverse IT infrastructures comprising Microsoft, IBM, SAP, and open-source technologies, and all of those technology components share the need for the basic use-cases of quickly and economically cloning production to create non-production environments to support development, testing, reporting, archival, and training activities.

Should those diverse IT organizations employ a silo tool like EM12c just for cloning Oracle databases, and then find the same functionality separately for each of those other separate technologies?  Would doing so be a tactical or a strategic decision?

So in response to the final question in the SnapClone post, I ask another question in turn…

Why would one look at a point solution that covers only Oracle database?

Access to data for development and testing is the biggest constraint limiting development and testing, so it doesn’t make sense to not enable data virtualization for all applications, regardless of whether they are comprised of Oracle technology or not.  IT agility is a strategic capability important to the entire business, not a technical challenge for a component silo.

But perhaps, in the interest of continuing the Oracle-only focus of the SnapClone post, we could stay inside the bounds of Oracle.  Fair enough, as a theoretical exercise…

So, even if we limit the discussion only to Oracle technology, it quickly becomes obvious that another important question looms…

Why would one look at a point solution that covers only the Oracle database, leaving the application software, database software, configuration files, and all the other necessary parts of an application as a further problem to be solved?

Anybody who has managed IT environments knows that the database is just one part of a complete application stack.  This is true for applications by Oracle (i.e. E-Business Suites, PeopleSoft, JDEdwards, Demantra, Retek, etc), as well as prominent applications like SAP, and every other application vendor on the planet, and beyond.

To do this, one needs a solution that virtualizes file-system directories with software, files, and everything that comprises the application, not just an Oracle database.

To provision those complete environments for developers and testers quickly and inexpensively, one needs both server virtualization and data virtualization.

Unless one has spent the past 10 years in deep space chasing a comet, you’ve already got server virtualization on board.  Check.

Now, for data virtualization, you need to virtualize Oracle databases, check.  And you also need to virtualize SQL Server databases, check.  And PostgreSQL and Sybase databases, check and check.  In the near future, Delphix will likely be virtualizing IBM DB2 and MySQL databases, not to mention MongoDB and Hadoop, ‘cuz that’s what we do.  Check, check, … check-a-mundo dudes and dudettes.

Despite this, even if you’re a single-vendor organization, you need to virtualize files directories and files, on UNIX/Linux platforms as well as Windows servers.

Delphix does all of the above, which is one reason why it is the market leader in this space.

And it has been in general use for years, and so a substantial portion of the Fortune 500 already relies on data virtualization from Delphix today, across their entire technology portfolio, as the partial list online here shows.

Perhaps it is only a point solution from one perspective, but be sure that your perspective is aligned with that of your whole IT organization, and that you’re not just thinking of a strategic business capability as merely “functionality” within a silo.

Data Virtualization and Greener Data Centers

On the Saturday before the Oracle OpenWorld 2014 conference started, I had the added bonus of finding out that the Data Center Journal had published my article on how data virtualization leads to greener data centers.  Hooray!

Unfortunately, I recently learned that Data Center Journal has gone defunct, so my posted article no longer exists.  As a result, here we go…

I recall that the January 2000 issue of National Geographic magazine had a “Letters From The Editor” column article that speculated, in jest, that the rate at which humans were saving back-issues of National Geographic magazine, would by the year 2100 result in the total accumulation of yellow magazines outweighing planet Earth.

Note:  The public archives of Nat’l Geographic magazine appear to only go back to 2005, so I can’t verify the exact issue in which this comment appeared.

Anyway, that statement resonated with me, because although I change residences every few years, it has only been recently that I hadn’t packed and carried my decades of accumulated National Geographic magazines with me.  Now that I’m free of them, I have no idea why I schlepped them with me for so long.  Worse, it cost real money to do so;  movers charge by weight. One mover commented that he was certain that two-thirds of the weight of all my possessions were books and National Geographic magazines, as he handed me an $8,000 bill for the move.

I now collect books on Kindle.  And I dropped off my boxes of yellow Nat’l Geographic magazines at the Goodwill store, in the middle of a dark and shameful night, almost a decade ago.  I don’t know if it was a particularly “green” decision, but I know that my recent moves have been the easiest since I was an undergraduate.

Likewise in data centers.  If we keep doing business in data centers as we have for the past 30 years, quite soon the planet would tilt off it’s axis due to the sheer weight of data storage hardware.

The advent of virtual machines has had a profound impact on provisioning environments.  Instead of unpacking, racking, wiring, powering, and cooling physical servers, data centers can now create virtual machines by the hundreds by pointing and clicking.  All of these new virtual machines share the previously under-utilized CPU and RAM resources of physical servers, making the ROI on CPU and RAM resources sky high.

So, virtual machine technology has allowed data centers to provision several million virtual servers without having to power and cool several millions of physical servers.  They use the existing physical servers far more efficiently.  That is “green”.

Not so with disk storage.

Each virtual machine still requires a full image of storage.  So, as several million virtual servers have been spun up, each has required a full complement of disk storage, thus driving the already overheated computer storage industry into supernova.

I’ve said it before and say it again:  if you have money to invest, do so in either energy or data storage.  We’re never going to use less of either.

So how does Delphix and data virtualization fit in?

Delphix virtualizes data, just as VMware and their competitors virtualize servers.  Delphix data virtualization makes more efficient use of existing storage, and slows the rate of growth of storage in data centers.

That is “green”.

For many, the time has arrived where server virtualization has completely taken over, even for those situations where sharing CPU and RAM resources are not desired.  For high-impact production environments, it is very common to have virtual machines one-for-one with physical machines.  Having production application encapsulated in a virtual machine makes it easier and simpler to migrate to other physical servers, whether to address resource shortfalls or to deal with physical server failure.

In these situations, data virtualization does not yield benefit, green or otherwise.

But in the scenario where a couple, or dozens, or even hundreds or thousands of virtual machines are provisioned to a cluster of physical servers, we have an environmentally unsustainable model, in every sense of the phrase.

An analogy for server virtualization without data virtualization in this latter scenario is an advance in technology to enable us to build automobiles entirely from cheap renewable resources, such as cellulose.  Hey terrific, instead of building cars from expensively mined resources such as metals and exhaustible resources such as plastic, let’s imagine a leap in technology where we could employ cellulose waste from food production, mainly biomass left over from farming.

Perhaps we would have found a way to get rid of all those old back issues of National Geographic?

We could then produce these cars more cheaply and with less environmental impact, using what is essentially mulch, for a fraction of the cost of currently manufactured automobiles.

It would be the golden age of personal transportation.  Everyone on the planet could afford one.

But what if these new automobiles still used internal combustion engines, consuming fossil fuels, at the same level of efficiency as today, about 20-40 miles per gallon?  Even if they were more efficient, upwards of 100 miles per gallon;  would that yield a net benefit to the environment?

Of course not.  The proliferation of these inexpensive, environmentally friendly automobiles would be an utter disaster environmentally, as the consumption of fossil fuels skyrocketed.

The oil companies would be quite happy, wouldn’t they?

That is server virtualization without data virtualization.

Except that it is the storage companies in the place of the oil companies in our analogy.

Server virtualization is a huge advance, but data virtualization is needed to fully deliver on the promise of the solution.

Lovin’ la vida Oracle

As we prepare for the week of Oracle OpenWorld 2014, I look back on the 25 years I have spent within the orbit of Oracle Corporation.

I joined Oracle Consulting Services (OCS) as an employee on 15-January 1990 and worked my way to Technical Manager when I resigned to start my own consultancy on 31-July 1998.  I worked as an independent Oracle consultant from then (with a side trip into company-building with friends) until 30-April this year.  On 01-May 2014, I joined startup Delphix.

Throughout this quarter-century of La Vida Oracle, I’ve made a great living, but it has also been a great way of life.  I started presenting at the Rocky Mountain Oracle Users Group in 1993, and joined the board of directors in 1995.  I’ve since worked with many other Oracle users groups as a volunteer and I’ve found the experiences to be incredibly educational, in so many ways.  I’ve also met a lot of amazing people through volunteering at Oracle users groups.  I met the junta of the Oak Table Network, and joined that group in 2002.  I was elected as an Oracle ACE in 2007, before I even knew the program existed, then I was made an ACE Director in 2012, which is an elevation I appreciate but still never sought.

But over it all, all throughout, is Oracle.  The Big Red O.  Some people have had bad experiences at Oracle Corporation, some have had REALLY bad experiences, just as people have good and bad experiences at any huge corporation.  In the spirit of a comment made famous by Winston Churchill, “Democracy is the absolute worst form of government.  Except for all the others.”  Oracle is populated by, and led by, some very human … beings.  I love them all, some more than others.

So for 25 years now, out of the 37 years Oracle has been in existence, I have had a really great life.  La vida Oracle.  I am so GLAD I met ya!  And I love this life!

And so it continues today.  For the first time in a quarter century, I’m out of the direct orbit of Oracle, now that I’m working at Delphix.  I’m still heavily involved with Oracle as an Oracle ACE Director and adviser to the boards of three local Oracle users groups (RMOUG, NoCOUG, and NEOOUG) and a board member at ODTUG.

Delphix builds data virtualization software for Oracle, PostgreSQL, SQL Server, and Sybase ASE, as well as file-system directories on Unix/Linux and Windows.  Virtualizing Oracle databases is a big part of Delphix’s business, but it is not the only part, and the non-Oracle parts are growing rapidly.  It’s refreshing to work with other database technologies.  But I still love working with Oracle Database, and I’m continually impressed by Oracle’s technology prowess, with the In-Memory option of Database12c a brilliant example.

Some say that Delphix competes with Oracle.  Be serious – please name a technology company that doesn’t compete with Oracle in one way or another, as the breadth of Oracle products and services is so expansive.

As an independent contractor at EvDBT for 16 years, I myself competed with Oracle Consulting in my own very small way.  But, at the same time I cooperated with Oracle by optimizing the implementation of Oracle technology.  I sure as heck understand who hold the tent up.

The same is true with Delphix.  As a company, Delphix products can be said to compete with Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c Cloud Control, in the niche area known as Database-As-A-Service (DBaaS) in the specific SnapClone functionality.  The Delphix software appliance is very similar to this SnapClone piece, but this part of the Oracle product is just a small part of the scope the vast EM12c Cloud Control product suite.

In the same way, I as an independent consultant could have been said to have competed with the EM12c diagnostics pack and performance tuning pack, because the techniques I used and taught tended to make people independent of those tools.

That’s not to say I steered people away from EM12c; it’s just that I myself didn’t use it for performance tuning, though gradually I learned to appreciate many of its features, not least through paying attention to my wife Kellyn Pot’vin.

In fact, the Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c Cloud Control, using the Cloud API, can fully administer virtual databases created by Delphix.  After all, Delphix is just an alternate mechanism to implement data virtualization.  Instead of using the mechanism of Oracle DBaaS SnapClone, customers can also use Delphix.  So Delphix can become a part of EM12c.

So there is no competition between Delphix and Oracle.  Delphix is an alternative to the SnapClone mechanism underlying DBaaS, but Delphix virtual databases can still be orchestrated through the EM12c console.  It need not be an either-or choice.

Of course, I still have to write that extension through the EM12c cloud API, and I’m getting right on that.  Unless someone else gets to it first.

Keep your eye on the Oracle EM12c Extension Exchange webpage for more progress on integrating Delphix within EM12c…

#OakTable World at Oracle OpenWorld 2014

WhereChildren’s Creativity Museum, 221 4th St, San Francisco

When:  Mon-Tue, 29-30 September, 08:30 – 17:00 PDT

For the third year in a row at the same fantastic location right in the heart of the bustling Oracle OpenWorld 2014 extravaganza, OakTable World 2014 is bringing together the top geeks of the worldwide Oracle community to present on the topics not approved for the OpenWorld conference.  At the OpenWorld conference.  For free.

The beauty of this unconference is its ad-hoc nature.  In 2010, weary of flying from Europe to endure marketing-rich content, Mogens Norgaard conceived Oracle ClosedWorld as an informal venue for those who wanted to talk about cool deep-technical topics.  Oracle ClosedWorld was first held in the back dining room at Chevy’s Fresh Mex on 3rd and Howard, fueled by Mogens’ credit card holding an open tab.  The following year in 2011, ClosedWorld was moved a little ways down Howard Street to the upstairs room at the Thirsty Bear, once again fueled by Mogens’ (and other) credit cards keeping a tab open at the bar.

In 2012, Kyle Hailey took the lead, found a fantastic venue, herded all the cats to make a 2-day agenda, and arranged for corporate sponsorship from Delphix, Pythian, and Enkitec, who have continued to sponsor OakTable World each year since.

If you’re coming to Oracle OpenWorld 2014 and are hungry for good deep technical content, stop by at OakTable World 2014, located right between Moscone South and Moscone West, and get your mojo recharged.

If you’re local to the Bay Area but can’t afford Oracle OpenWorld, and you like deep technical stuff about Oracle database, stop by and enjoy the electricity of the largest Oracle conference in the world, and the best Oracle unconference right in the heart of it all.

OakTable World 2014 – driven by the OakTable Network, an informal society of drinkers with an Oracle problem.

#CloneAttack at Oracle OpenWorld 2014

Delphix and Dbvisit will be at the OTN Lounge in the lobby of Moscone South from 3:30 – 5:00pm on Monday 29-Sept.  Come join us to hear about #CloneAttack and #RepAttack, two great hands-on learning opportunities.

What:

#CloneAttack is your chance to install a complete Delphix lab environment on your Windows or Mac laptop for you to play with and experiment at any time.  Experts Kyle Hailey, Steve Karam, Adam Bowen, Ben Prusinski, and I will be sharing USB “thumb” drives with the virtual machine OVA files for the lab environment, and we will be working one-on-one with you to help you get everything up and running, then to show you basic use-cases for cloning with Delphix.

Bring your laptop, bring your VMware, and get some data virtualization into your virtual life!

At the same time, #CloneAttack will be joined by #RepAttack by Dbvisit, where Arjen Visser, Jan Karremans, and the team will be helping you replicate Oracle to Oracle for zero downtime upgrades.

This just in!  #MonitorAttack from Confio SolarWinds will also be joining the party at the CCM on Tuesday to show you how to quickly and easily install Confio Ignite and enjoy the great features there.

Where:

Children’s Creativity Museum, 221 4th St, San Francisco

When:

Tuesday, Sept 30 from 10am – 5pm PDT

Before you arrive:

Hardware requirements (either Mac or Windows):

  • at least 8 GB RAM
  • at least 50 GB free disk space, but preferably 100 GB free
  • at least 2 Ghz CPU, preferably dual-core or better

Hello Delphix!

After almost 16 years as an independent consultant, with a couple side-steps into the world of small consulting-services startups, I’ve accepted an offer from Delphix, a startup building the future of information technology, enabling agile data management and storage virtualization.

I’m closing EvDBT as a business, since the employee count will reduce from one to zero, and finishing up my consulting engagements, starting with my new employer on 01-May 2014.

Thank you, EvDBT.  You were my lifeboat and my vehicle to a better career and a better life!