Ability to Mix Workloads with Same Database
The ability to mix workloads with the same database is a significant benefit of database virtualization. "Traditionally, you had a warehouse and a transactional system," Yuhanna explained. "You need access to the same data by several different applications.""It's being able to unify data and make it sharable," Yuhanna said, describing the benefits of database virtualization. "More than 30 percent of data in organizations is duplicated because they have to use those databases by multiple applications." This means that keeping the data consistent is a problem, and it also means that companies are using many databases to access duplicate copies of what is supposed to be the same data. It's a critical requirement by organizations to unify their data to get a single version of their data. They need consistent data for the user. Yuhanna noted that database virtualization is closely tied to data virtualization and federated data. "We are seeing more trends to heterogeneous data," he said. "You federate the data into a common meta layer. Forrester calls this the information fabric. Below the data layer is the database virtualization layer." Of course, the idea of database virtualization is nice, but the real question is how it works in the real world. Greg Asta, director of software development for Omnigon Communications, has the street-level view. Asta is developing a virtualized database application for an agency of the U.S. government. While he's not allowed to say which agency or to describe the application (it's classified), he was willing to talk about why he's using database virtualization. Asta said that Omnigon is using Xkoto's Gridscale database virtualization system to provide the capabilities he needs for this project. (See related story, here.) "We use it for a combination of high availability as well as active-active replication and multimaster replication," he said. "There's a strong desire for clients who are investing in multiple server locations to not have an active-passive setup." In the case of his client's database, "I can run it off of multiple servers at the same time," Asta said. "We use virtualization to maintain data repositories. Virtualization gives us a highly available infrastructure. We can do rollouts without taking the system down and have outages without going down. We can refer to a virtual database instead of any n-number of databases, which helps development and makes for a more simple architecture." The key requirement for Asta's client is availability. "If the main data center goes off the grid, because the database is virtualized, they can continue their session. In the ideal scenario, they wouldn't notice," he said. Right now, only a few companies-including Xkoto and Xeround-provide database virtualization solutions. The 451 Group's Aslett said Continuent also makes products that provide database virtualization capabilities, although the company doesn't make that claim explicitly. Enterprise Strategy Group's Babineau said he expects all of the major database players to enter the market in the near future. Contributing Analyst Wayne Rash can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yuhanna added that virtualization allows you to decouple the application from the data.