Ask the Experts Webinar: Dec. 7th, Attendee Q&A and Recording Links!

Tags: Data Virtualization

I had the opportunity and pleasure to moderate our December 7th Webinar, "Ask the Experts".  I was joined by three experts in the Oracle community:

  • Bobby Durrett, US Foods
  • Dallas Scott, Vertex
  • Brian Ingold, Presbyterian Health.

We covered a wide range of topics in how Delphix has radically changed the playing field for their IT infrastructure.  There was significant discussion on challenges that are so common in 90% of database environments ceased to exist with the Delphix solution in place.  The sheer storage, resource and time savings was quite staggering as you listened to these database experts explain how Delphix has changed their day to day jobs.  If you missed out on attending this valuable webinar, the following link will offer you the opportunity to view the recording from the event.

As I promised during the event, we've captured all the questions by the attendees and for those that we weren't able to cover in the limited time allotted, I'll answer in this post.

So without further ado, thank you to everyone who asked these great questions and here we go!

1.  Sagar asked, "What kind of security available in Delphix for my organization in terms of data, code, etc?"

Answer: So to answer your question, Sagar-  as a DBA or developer, there are always two layers of security, (and more) that we can be concerned about.  The first type that I'll address is securing the data that is copied from production to the virtual databases by using Delphix integrated data masking features.  Security of the Delphix system may also be the focus of your question.  We have a white paper that explains how to setup and architect a secure Delphix environment with the following white paper.

2.  Brad asked, "Does Delphix support NDU (non-disruptive upgrades)? Or does mainteannce require an outage window?"

Answer: As with most technical answers, we add an "it depends" onto our answer.  It depends on the MAA, (Maximum Availabilty Architecture) that is presently available in the environment that Delphix is part of. We have many customers, that can eliminate many outages with Delphix because they can now spin up another virtual database while they test patches or perform maintenance. Delphix also has it's own HA, (High Availability) architecture design for Delphix to deter from maintenance windows.  Here's the link to the white paper which can answer those questions more indepth.

3.  Rama asked, "Any special considerations for Exadata and Oracle EBS?"

Answer: Exadata and EBS are quite different environments, (one being an engineered system and the second a multi-tier financial system.)  Exadata has some incredible features that both the code and database design can take advantage of with Oracle and the specifically designed hardware for enhanced performance.  A virtual database can take advantage of Exadata's large storage capacity, but wouldn't be able to take advantage of smart scans, result cache or storage indexes.  There are use cases where customers have extensive storage left over that they'd like to utilize for non-production databases, where performance wasn't a requirement and it made sense for a "storage pool" to be created and Delphix utilized.

Now EBS, (E-business suite) is a different story-  Delphix is the PERFECT solution for non-production environments.  Delphix is able to create virtual clones of the application and database tier in short order, simplifying the cloning process and eliminating the incredible amount of resources required to perform these tasks.  Delphix has a feature called "hooks", which is the ability to automate scripts within the provisioning process, either before or after the virtual database clone that can complete the EBS clone to the click of a button.

4.  Swagatika asked, "Do you have any case studies on delphix?"

Answer: Right on this site, ( click on Solutions --> Use Case and there's a ton of them to choose from!

5.  Swagatika also asked, "I need to know how will the VDB work with all the adjoining applications?"

Answer:  With Delphix, "a block is a block".  That means your application tier can be just as easily, (and in a consistent image) virtualized with the database tier.  This is crucial for applications such as spatial applications like Esri, EBS and others.

6.  Brian asked, "Is it wise to develop a data management strategy and information governance first (down to the DB file and column-level) before implementing Delphix in the organization?"

Answer:  When architecting a system with our customers, Delphix closely collaborates with the IT team to ensure that use cases are built out and customers have the product that will satisfy their requirements.

7.  Ferdous asked, "Can Delphix be used as a DR solution?"

Answer: This is a secondary use case for the Delphix product.  The Delphix source used to feed the virtual databases is refreshed on an interval commonly set to once every 24hrs, but customers are able to update the time interval. Where Oracle Dataguard's primary use case is designed around this, we do have numerous customers who have been saved after a destructive change to production.  Some it was to get back a physical table, some, it was the whole database.  We have the ability to do what is called a V2P, (virtual to physical) where a customer used their virtual database and then recovered it to physical and proceeded forward after damage to their production environment.  You can find Delphix use cases for this on the Delphix website here.

8.  Brian asked, "Does data masking include creation of sythentic/substitution data?"  

Answer: Delphix's data masking functionality does not include synthetic data creation, but you can ingest synthetic data sources into a Delphix engine and rapidly create copies of each source. I think one of the most important reasons for sythetic data creation has to do with an inability or resources to make full copies of production, which Delphix can do.  Delphix can also easily discovery and mask any sensitive data, which is the secondary use case for creation of synthetic test data.

9.  Brian also asked, "Could I also ingest tokenized data into the Delphix engine, does it work with Protegrity?"

Answer: Delphix data masking completely supports tokenization with our product.  We completely support referential integrity of existing data, so the masked data wouldn't be impacted coming from Protegrity, (let me know if my assumption on your concern is incorrect...)

10.  Shawn asked: "What was the turnaround time from Delphix purchase to actually having the product configured and provisioning targets?"

Answer: For our panelists, their Delphix projects consumed very different timelines.  It can be frustrating when the implementation of product solutions, especially one as revolutionary as Delphix, stagnates and this is a challenge I think that resonates with every IT expert.  There are some customers that have the solution in place within a matter of business days, while others, due to time and resource constraints, can take much longer.

11.  Hemant asked, "Anyone using Cloud as a backup for Delphix engine?"

Answer: This is a different use case than what Delphix really has a "sweet spot" for.  What we can do and there are a number of use cases on our website for, is make it easier for companies to transition to the cloud.  Moving to AWS can be a bit daunting, but Delphix can take a lot of the challenges out of it, but aiming at non-production systems, virtualizing and moving those first.  Most IT shops don't realize that the customer isn't just charged by cloud vendors for the data they store in the cloud, but also for the amount in flight, (aka transfer to the cloud.)  This can add up to an unexpected cost as customers move to the cloud.  Delphix eliminates a significant demand for data transfer and data storage on the cloud with virtualization.  The second feature is data masking.  So many have concerns about security in the cloud and the ability to mask the data before it ever gets to the cloud is an incredible advantage for the industry.

12.  Ravi asked, "Can Delphix be used to migrate Oracle EBS functional code changes (pl/sql, xml etc)  from dev/test/prod?"

Answer:  Although not a primary use case, (and not a complete one from your question) what Delphix can do is ease the EBS functional code changes from development to test by delivering via virtual databases.  Delphix also has a feature referred to as branching.  Let's say that a developer creates a code change and sends the change to test.  The tester applies their test case and finds that there were unexpected results.  Instead of explaining to the developer how their data was impacted, the tester could simply deliver a copy of the VDB to the developer so they are working with the same environment the tester was.  No other developers or testers would be impacted or deterred from productivity by this action, as they would continue with their own VDBs and could version and branch as needed.

Hermant asked, "I want to create HA for DE in cloud.. If anyone has done it?"

Answer: If I understand what you're trying to accomplish-  you want to have an on-premise Delphix engine and a second one for high availability in the cloud.  If this is a correct assumption, then I think your biggest challenge will be network speeds and this could be anywhere between the on-premise and the cloud.  Just as orange is the new black, network is the new bottleneck.  We have Delphix in AWS now and it's a very successful initiative, but the goal is to make customers successful to moving their non-production environments to the cloud.

This covers the questions from the webinar's attendee Q&A.  I want to thank Bobby, Dallas and Brian for joining me for this great experts panel.  Their contributions were incredibly valuable to the conversation and I really enjoyed moderating/talking with these impressive Delphix customers!