Data is one of an organization’s most vital resources, ensuring continued operations and growth, from financial analysis to AI/ML training. Development and engineering teams, quality assurance, business intelligence groups, and database administrators all need access to independent production database copies. Providing them with that access, however, can be complex, expensive, risky, and time intensive.
The continuous, almost exponential growth of enterprise data exacerbates database management issues. Replicating data for every new use case and environment puts immense pressure on DBA teams while significantly increasing the storage footprint and the data privacy risk footprint. Consequently, data has become a major roadblock for DevOps teams, emphasizing the need for a swift and automated solution to replicate data across non-production environments.
What has shifted?
Previously, development teams would operate with the same database copy for six months or more, allowing DBA teams ample time to fulfill all database delivery requirements. However, as technology advanced and consumer expectations rose, the data delivery lifecycle has been drastically reduced. In today's agile development landscape, new features may be introduced every few days, if not hours, so database access needs have increased across the organization. QA teams need fresh testing data; AI/ML teams need millions of data points for precise training; and data analysts need access so they can support organizational growth. All these database access requirements have overwhelmed DBA teams with demands they struggle to manage.
Database virtualization offers an efficient and streamlined solution to the data bottleneck issue. By easing the creation and distribution of database replicas, DevOps teams can establish fully operational virtual environments through a self-service process, enabling DBA teams to concentrate on the more critical tasks related to their real jobs, managing production databases.
Accelerate the process
One of the greatest advantages of database virtualization is accelerated data delivery. To maintain productivity and prevent reliance on outdated data, new environments must be generated on demand. Automating the creation of new environments within the CI/CD pipeline gives full autonomy to DevOps teams. Eliminating dependence on DBAs enables teams to access necessary data whenever and wherever they need it.
Generating and providing virtual databases enables swift provisioning, as agility is crucial for successful database management. Each team needs a separate environment, unimpacted by other teams and their use cases. With virtualization, these databases become identical to the original physical database while operating entirely independent of one another. Any alterations made to a virtual database (vDB) remain exclusive to its specific environment.
As data demand increases, storage costs rise accordingly. Producing a physical copy for each team and use case leads to a substantial storage footprint, which is not the case with virtual databases. While traditional physical datasets can be several terabytes in size, vDBs are only a few hundred megabytes. Moreover, virtualization solutions compress the size of physical copies, such as the golden copy, effectively decreasing both the storage footprint and associated costs.
Strengthen security and compliance
After resolving the database delivery issue, enterprises must tackle another significant concern -security and data privacy compliance. With a multitude of teams accessing data in virtual and low-level testing environments, the threat of ransomware and privacy compliance violations rises substantially. Generally, security investments in non-production environments are significantly lower than in production environments.
One popular strategy for addressing this problem is masking sensitive data, rendering it useless to external parties. Traditional masking, however, requires a data expert to manually examine all existing data and apply data masking algorithms to any sensitive information discovered. This labor-intensive solution generates a new data bottleneck. By automating the process and applying it to the golden copy, companies can ensure that all new vDBs are fully secure and privacy compliant.
The path forward
Database virtualization represents the future of non-production database copy management. Virtual databases can be delivered within minutes, greatly speeding delivery. These environments are user-friendly, independent, and manageable through a self-service portal. Constant synchronization among the original database and the virtual databases guarantees ongoing access to up-to-date data without time-consuming or costly procedures.
Database virtualization allows well-established enterprises to leverage their years of “customer experience,” strengthening their ability to compete in a fast-moving and agile environment.