What Are Storage Snapshots? How is Delphix Different?

Tags: Delphix Engineering

Many customers ask, "What is the difference between Delphix and Storage Snapshots?" This article lists some of the key capabilities that Delphix provides over and above Storage Snapshot based cloning solutions to meet the increasing business demand for Agile Development.   First it is useful to contrast the distinct goals and implementation behind Storage Snapshots and Delphix.

Storage Snapshots

The primary use for storage snapshots is to enable backups of active database or file systems. A backup takes a long time and most database systems cannot be suspended for the entire duration of a backup.  Storage snapshots allow a database to be queisced for a brief duration whilst the snapshot is taken.  The database can then be un-queiesced allowing transactions to proceed and a consistent backup of the database can then be taken asynchronously via the snapshot.  So a single snapshot can be used to provide a consistent view of a database. Storage snapshot solutions also allow cloning enabling multiple snapshots.  These read write clones can be used to provision database copies quickly and with low storage overhead, consuming only changed blocks per snapshot. Supporting clones has an impact on storage performance and hence clones are usually driven off a full copy of production maintained on a separate storage server.  This mitigates the performance impact of clones on the production storage array at the cost of maintaining a replication method and additional storage.


Delphix is designed to support Agile Development not just backups and clones.  Agile Development requires fully automated end-to-end provisioning of database copies, ready to use running database environments and fast database manipulation operations exposed through self-service.   Like storage snapshots Delphix virtual databases can be created in minutes and each copy consumes very little incremental storage however a virtual database can be manipulated directly by the end user, typically a developer or tester, through self-service. Aside from provisioning database copies, virtual databases support the full range of developer and tester activities such as bookmarking (saving and sharing a database state), running multiple database versions (branches), rewinding for repeated consistent tests and refreshing for operating on up-to-date data.  All of these operations are fully automated, complete in minutes and can be applied to a set of databases and optionally the application stack, and treated as a single entity.  All this is done without consuming additional database and application server resources. Delphix synchronises with source databases with zero impact.  There is no need to replicate or copy the source databases as Delphix synchronises directly with the production database or via backups.

Accelerating Release Cycles

Delphix provides the following benefits for all Software Development Life Cycles:

  1. Manage multiple data sources as one

Many applications rely on more than one data source that must be kept synchronized. Delphix can provision and manipulate a set of databases, folders and data files as a single consistent entity.

  1. Masking and non-production data preparation

Delphix allows you to prepare a copy of production data for non-production by modifying or masking a single virtual database (VDB) once and then creating virtual copies from that single master VDB, executing the preparation phase once and enabling all downstream copies to benefit from that operation.

  1. Performance

Delphix' compression and caching reduces the workload on the underlying storage making it possible to run multiple workloads on Delphix enabled storage faster than using physical storage directly.

  1. Ease of Use

Delphix has class leading end-to-end automation covering deployment, synchronization, administration, security, provisioning, and replication exposed through self-service user interfaces and leveraged APIs.

  1. Storage efficient

Delphix uses minimum storage when synchronising, provisioning and archiving data and is more storage efficient than storage snapshot based solutions.  All data held in Delphix is compressed and implicitly de-duplicated.

  1. Storage Agnostic

Delphix is storage agnostics allowing customers to switch storage vendors and leverage new developments in storage technologies.

  1. Provenance

Delphix has the best provenance of any Data as a Service (DaaS) solution with over 120 of the Fortune 500 companies doubling their application release frequency using Delphix.

In Summary

If you want to take backups you can use storage snapshots to give you a consistent discrete view of the data, however you could backup directly from Delphix from any point in time, avoiding impacting your production storage. If you want to save storage you could use storage snapshots but Delphix saves even more storage and is storage independent. If you want to support agile development through agile provisioning and agile manipulation of full sized data sets then Delphix is your only option. Delphix is simpler, faster, more storage efficient and supports agile development more effectively than storage snapshots.