Actifio is now part of Google Cloud. Read the full announcement.

Database Clones: 4 Ways They Mimic Zombie Hordes

database clones

Much to my wife’s consternation, I am a fan of The Walking Dead.  For some reason, I find a post apocalyptic world where zombies run rampant interesting.  Fortunately, this is a purely fictional yarn….or at least I tell myself that when I wake up at night hearing strange noises which typically emanate from local coyotes.  

The challenge of the zombie is not just about a high budget and highly rated TV show.  No, there is something more scary….database clones.  While it is highly unlikely that the zombie apocalypse  will ever be upon us, the database zombie apocalypse is upon us now.  Every day, the IT team is forced to struggle with hundreds of database clones that have to be created, managed and eventually deleted.  These clones can consume massive amount of data and can grow out of control.

The more I think about it, these clones are more similar to zombies that I originally thought.  Here are four commonalities.


  1. They travel in packs


Zombies travel in groups and so you know that when one appears, more will soon follow.  This can be highly traumatic for zombie avoiders and even more so when it comes to zombie defense.  When you see one coming, you must be ready and prepared for the zombie stampede that will inevitably follow.  Needless to say, the more time you have to prepare, the better.

Databases copies come in packs too.  It is rare that you only have one clone.  In fact, if you explore your environment and find a single clone, it is likely that there are many more lurking in the shadows, consuming IT resources.  Worst of all, like zombies, these clones rapidly become unmanageable and so, just like it is highly unpleasant to be attacked by a pack of wayward zombies, imagine how it feels to be surprised by a group of uncontrolled database clones.  While zombie clones will not consume you physically, they are arguably more voracious when it comes to consuming storage resources and budget.


  1. They are difficult to manage


Let’s face it, zombies are not cooperative and they tend to foil even the best laid plans.  This is likely due to their lack of intelligence, or maybe it is their sheer persistence.  Regardless, they are fearless and will continually pursue tasty treats regardless of the distance traveled or the fact that they amble along at turtle-like speeds.

Database clones are equally uncooperative.   You may think that you have clone policies and procedures in place to limit their proliferation, but these never seem to work. Before you know it, you are receiving demands throughout your organization for clone creation or even worse, some part of the organization goes rogue and creates their own.  These insatiable clones can chew up massive amounts of disk space before you know it, and it is not uncommon to see a single database using 10 or 12x its capacity.


  1. They are dangerous


In The Walking Dead the antagonistic zombies like nothing better than to munch on the flesh of our heros.  When not chasing their next meal, zombies wander aimlessly searching for unsuspecting victims.  Naturally, this is not a highly advanced meal creation strategy, but these are zombies so what do you expect?  In short, zombies are not particularly fun to party with especially since a single bite will have you joining the zombie party….permanently.

Database clones are dangerous too. Although fortunately, losing a battle with a database clone will not turn you into one. However, the challenge is that developers often rely on database copies and so clone reduction actions taken by IT or DBAs can result in screams of agony as development activities derail.  In today’s software-centric world, interrupting development activities can materially impact business and so this is a situation that should be avoided at all cost.


  1. They are difficult to stop


Zombies are surprisingly resilient. Cut off a leg and it will hop towards you on the remaining one, remove both legs, they will drag themselves towards you with their arms.  They are nothing if not persistent.  In fact it seems that only extreme cranial trauma will stop The Walking Dead zombies.  The extreme persistence of these characters makes for an interesting and highly dramatic TV show, but similar challenges exist for data database clones.

Once created, a clone is difficult to remove, and like with zombies, extreme measures are required to complete the removal process.  To be clear, physically deleting a clone is typically a  straightforward process; the challenge is operational.  Before deleting this persistent foe, you need to find the clone owner and convince him/her to allow deletion.  This can be a struggle especially when the teams using the clones are often separated from the people required to purchase and manage the extra storage required.

The Walking Dead is a great show, and I am thankful that it is purely a work of fiction as the idea of consistent zombie assaults is more than I can currently handle.  Yet, the problem of database clone attacks is a real one, and as such is even more scary.  It is a battle that intrepid IT teams struggle with every day and while it will likely won’t be featured in an Emmy award winning TV series, the economic impact of these challenges is far greater.

Database cloning can be a beast to deal with.  Find out how Actifio helps.

Learn more

Recent Posts