“Actifio gives us huge time savings. The idea is to set it and forget it.”
NIC RICHARDS – GLOBAL IT MANAGER
ACTIFIO FOR DATABASE ADMINISTRATORS
Scalable Database Cloning for DBAs.
Database Management causes headaches for Database Administrators, especially when creating and managing copies of production databases for Test Data Management.
DBAs create many copies of databases for a range of use cases, including test/dev, UAT, analytics, training, security patch testing, and more.
Actifio software provides a scalable, enterprise-grade Copy Data Management (CDM) solution for very large databases.
It manages database copies efficiently and securely in any public cloud or on-premises using any storage. Actifio Sky eases the burden for DBAs, increasing their efficiency, and enabling them to focus on more critical business-oriented tasks.
Traditional database cloning solutions are costly, complex, and inefficient.
DBAs typically use legacy test data management tools to create subsets of production data for testers. Testing software against such data subsets can increase defects and lead to poor software quality releases.
DBAs may create physical copies of production databases. For large databases, this leads to high storage costs and also creates long wait cycles with excessive time wasted in creating and refreshing physical copies.
Some DBAs try using storage snapshots without self-service automation. This can lead to a weak security model with no automated data masking and no role-based access control.
Additionally, in many environments, users can’t simultaneously perform functionality and performance testing to reduce testing cycles, and most of these point tools are not cloud-ready.
All of these challenges cause DBAs to spend increased time on mundane database cloning and management tasks, which decreases their efficiency, and takes time away from more business-critical tasks.
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HOW Actifio HELPS
Actifio helps accelerate application test and release cycles by enabling developers & testers self-service access to provision multi-TB database clones instantly. This can significantly reduce impacts on a DBA’s time and resources.
These database clones are rewritable thin-clones which means they don’t consume any extra storage, helping to reduce storage costs and increase DBA management efficiency.
Actifio’s ability to integrate via APIs to CI/CD tools and provision dozens of database clones to test environments enables quality assurance (QA) testers to rapidly iterate through testing and refresh cycles which improves software quality.
For enterprises with sensitive data in databases, Actifio helps increase security by automating the data masking process, along with role-based access control which enables DBAs to focus on more business critical tasks.
DBAs can enjoy all these benefits while leveraging Actifio in any public cloud or on-premises.
Frequently Asked Questions.
Actifio’s pricing model is very simple and easy to understand. It’s based on the amount of source data protected. For example: If an enterprise wants to use Actifio to provision 20 clones of a 10 TB database, the enterprise would need Actifio license for 10 TB of source data. Enterprises can create as many clones as they want and can retain any amount of point-in-time history. Enterprises can also use this license anywhere in the public cloud or on-premises.
Actifio VDP is the patented core Virtual Data Pipeline technology that can be consumed in multiple form factors.
Actifio Sky is a VM appliance that runs Actifio VDP engine and can be provisioned in a public cloud VM or on-premises in VMware, Hyper-V VMs.
Actifio CDS/CDX is a physical appliance cluster that runs Actifio VDP engine with High Availability and is typically used on-premises.
Yes. Actifio supports all major public cloud providers such as AWS, Azure, Google, IBM, and Oracle. It’s also available in some of the public cloud marketplaces.
Following are the key comparisons:
- Staging Servers: High vs No Costs: The biggest architectural challenge with the competition is that it needs a staging server between the production SQL server and the competitive appliance. The staging server needs a Windows license and a SQL license. Higher change rates, large databases or more SQL instances could require the provisioning multiple staging servers. This increases the infrastructure cost, SQL license costs, and operational burden. Compare this with Actifio which does not need a staging server. Actifio software has the ability to ingest data directly from SQL server database to Actifio in an application consistent, incremental forever manner. This efficient architecture reduces costs and operational burden.
- Refresh Cycles: Long vs Short Time: The competition relies on an architecture of shipping logs from production SQL database to staging server, where the logs are replayed. Once the logs are replayed, the competition takes a snapshot and marks it as a point-in-time copy that is available for virtual DB (VDB) clone provisioning to test environments. Thus if 1 Million updates, delete, or write transactions occur in production, 1 Million transactions have to be replayed in the staging server. This could take a long time, thus delaying the refreshes of changes from production to the competitive appliance. Compare this with Actifio which leverages its proprietary Change Block Tracking (CBT) technology in production SQL databases to determine just the changed blocks and copy the changed blocks to Actifio Sky instance, thus leading to an application consistent incremental forever data ingest. Thus in the above example,1 Million transactions with an average of 8KB size would amount to 8GB changed blocks, and Actifio would copy 8 GB within just minutes. This architecture lends itself to very fast refreshes of changed data from production SQL databases to Actifio Sky instance.
- Low vs High Performance: Many enterprises have investments in Fiber Channel and want to provision virtual DB (VDB) clones over their high-performance Fiber Channel network for better performance. The competition only supports NFS and so customers cannot leverage Fibre Channel to provision virtual database (VDB) clones. Compare this with Actifio which has the ability to provision VDB clones over fiber channel, NFS, and iSCSI, thus delivering not only high performance, but also the flexibility to pick and choose any protocol.
- High Availability: Many enterprises expect high availability when there are 100s of testers using virtual DB clones because any downtime means delays in testing and application release cycles. The competition does not offer HA capability. Compare this with Actifio which offers the option for enterprises to buy its software in a 2-node HA cluster that ensures that testers don’t have any downtime in the event of losing one of the nodes.
- Total Cost of Ownership: High vs Low: The competition requires a very large amount of compute and memory to run their software as compared to Actifio Sky software.
Unlike the competition, Actifio offers a global manager to manage one or more Actifio software instances running in multiple data centers or public cloud. Actifio also offers an enterprise-grade backup, disaster recovery, term data retention solution with the same license. Such rich functionality with simple software licensing, the high amount of data managed per software instance, and global management drives down the total cost of ownership for enterprises significantly as compared to the competition.
There are many more differentiated features. For more details, download this Actifio competitive comparison for test data management.
None of these vendors have test data management where they can enable users to provision dozens of database clones with high scale and performance, with automated data masking, and provide flexibility to users to pick and choose any storage, any cloud.
Yes, Actifio leverages native Block Change Tracking (BCT) technology to capture just the changed blocks in its incremental forever data ingestion. After the first backup, which is an Image Copy, Actifio does an incremental backup and incremental merge.
Thus, if 5% of a 10 TB production database changes, only 500 GB of data will be ingested by Actifio. When testers have to refresh, they just unmount their database clones and provision clones again in just minutes.
Yes. SLAs be set in such a way that transaction/archive logs can be copied to Actifio Sky instance every X minutes or hours in between the incremental data ingestion. For example, a user can setup incremental data ingestion every 1 hour and log copies every 15 minutes.
While provisioning virtual database clones, a user can specify any point-in-time. Actifio automatically identifies the nearest incremental point-in-time, mounts a synthetic virtual full copy instantly as of that point-in-time, and applies the transaction/archive logs to recover the database to the specified point-in-time. All of this is fully automated.
Actifio stores the database backups in native format. This ensures that after instant mount and provisioning a database clone, there is no performance overhead because of format conversion.
The other factor to consider is the storage on which the database backups are stored by Actifio.
Depending on the performance requirements, enterprises can specify the right storage tier to use with Actifio.
And lastly, Actifio also offers the flexibility to instantly mount and provision database clones over fiber channel or iSCSI or NFS depending upon the user preference.
Thus the performance can be as good as the underlying storage and the protocol the user wants to use.
Yes. This is possible with two approaches.
In the first approach, the enterprise can use Commvault/Netbackup to backup databases from the primary database instance, and Actifio can ingest data from the standby database instance or vice versa.
In the second approach where Commvault/Netbackup and Actifio are forced to protect from the same database instance, Actifio can still ingest data for Test Data Management in an incremental forever manner using Block Change Tracking (BCT) without impacting Commvault/Veritas backups. But only one product can manage the Archive/Transaction log backups.
Yes. In fact, almost all the customers who use Actifio for DevOps & Test Data Management replace their other backup product with Actifio either on day one or over time. This helps them not only reduce their overall costs, but also simplifies operations with a single platform for backup, recovery, test data management i.e. Copy Data Management for databases.