The Very Real Problem Delphix Solves

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2010-09-14 Print this article Print

"The problem that Delphix solves is very real," Enterprise Strategy Group Senior Consulting Analyst Brian Babineau told eWEEK.

"IT makes a tremendous number of copies of production databases and applications for a variety of reasons, all of which are usually warranted. The issue is in the time it takes to make these copies and the cost (usually measured in storage capacity expense)."

Often hovering over all of this is a lack of cooperation between storage and database administrators, Babineau said.

"The latter think disk [storage] is free, and the former have to deal with all the copies made by the latter!" Babineau said. "There are solutions that attempt to solve the challenge, but they only address the technology issue; they let someone make 'space efficient' copies very quickly.

"In essence, they solve the problem either at the database or storage layer, leaving someone unhappy. Delphix is unique in that everyone gets what they want. DBAs get their copies (albeit virtual) and they can create them.  Storage teams do not see a spike in capacity requirements."

Yueh, who started up storage deduplicator Avamar Technologies in 1999 and sold it to EMC in 2006 for $165 million, told eWEEK that databases running on the Delphix server are typically one-tenth the size of the original database.

Delphix's server can run on x86-based physical or virtual servers and takes only a few minutes to install. 

At the outset, Delphix supports Oracle DBs only, but Yueh said that over time the company will add other database platforms to build out the product.

"You install it, and it just works," Yueh said simply. "There's quite a bit going on underneath the covers, of course, but you don't have to be a DB admin to get a copy of a database up and running in literally just a few seconds. Just follow the drop-down menu and you're good."

TiVO an early adopter
TiVO Senior IT Director Richard Rothschild, a longtime database veteran, told eWEEK that he's been using Delphix's server in production for about four months and is impressed.

"We had a lot of the same challenges a lot of people had [with databases]. The easiest one to understand has to do with SAP for our financial applications and for handling all our customers," Rothschild said. "It's difficult to create new databases. We'd have to use five or six guys and take several days to create a new database -- from production to QA and the other environments we have.

"Because it takes so long, we were really hampered in terms of being able to have all the databases [running] in their environments so that we can do proper testing of all our code in the way we want to do it."

So, based on a recommendation, he obtained a demo of Delphix and checked it out.

"My guys were all pretty skeptical normally, but this is probably the only time I've seen them in six years where everybody was really positive, saying, 'Wow, this looks really great, and we should definitely do a proof of concept with these guys.' To me, that was a pretty good sign that there was some hope."

Delphix worked exactly the way Yueh and his staff said it would, Rothschild said. "We were able to create databases in a few minutes, whereas before it would take several days. For us, that's great, because now I can free up those resources -- they can work on things that are more important for the business. For me, that's probably the biggest value."

Delphix is like TiVO for databases, Rothschild said. "It lets us instantly create virtual databases and shift them backward or forward in time. The management interface is simple and elegant -- a rarity in enterprise solutions," he said.

Delphix, based in Palo Alto, Calif., is VC- and privately financed and has been in business since 2008, when Yueh left EMC to start his second venture. Yueh has hired top development engineers from Oracle, VMware and other companies to develop the server.

Customers already up and running

The company, whose product had been in beta until last spring, already has a few dozen customers and has been ramping up quickly through word of mouth.

Babineau of ESG had another thought about the possibilities that Delphix presents.

"What most people are missing [at this early point about Delphix] is the cloud connection," Babineau told eWEEK. "Why are some organizations moving test and development to the cloud? Because someone can do it cheaper and more quickly. If you can solve this problem internally by setting up a lean (from a storage perspective) copy of a database instantaneously and work with it intuitively, why would I go to a cloud?

"Better yet, why wouldn't a cloud provider start using this to offer a service?"

Chris Preimesberger Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz

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