A couple of weeks ago I caught up with Rahim Çetinel from Accuras to congratulate him on being the first Partner to achieve all 3 Mastery Certificates on the new revamped Delphix Partner program training. Here's Rahim's view of Delphix and the Partner Training Program.
Gary: Congratulations, Rahim on achieving Mastery for Services Virtualization and Masking and Mastery in Sales Engineering. That’s an impressive accomplishment and the first Delphix partner to achieve all 3 available mastery certificates.
Before we talk about the training course and Delphix can you give a me a little bit of background about yourself and how you came to be working at Accuras and with the Delphix product?
- Rahim: Hi Gary. Thank you for giving me an opportunity to share my feedback with Delphix community. I have been working in IT more than 20 years and I have been in many roles: system administration, development and testing, architecture and project management. More than half of this time I have worked in Telco across different companies and countries and I have been working at Accuras since 2016. I was looking for new and exciting technologies and thinking about a shift in my career so it was a good combination for me and I started working at Accuras and Delphix.
Gary: Wow, that’s a great cross-section of roles and skills, I find that usually works well for a great understanding of how Delphix itself spans across multiple IT boundaries. Let’s talk about the Delphix e-Learning, how did you find the training courses?
- Rahim: I have always supported the idea that we should improve ourselves all the time and in the past I have attended different trainings by either the company I was working for or by myself. I can easily say that Delphix Training Portal stands at the top of the list when I compare it to other trainings I have seen or taken.
Gary: Nice, the education team will be pleased to hear your feedback, I agree that continuous learning is the key to success in IT, although it is sometimes hard to have the discipline to attend courses when the work itself takes up so much of our time.
Of course, training is important, but hands on experience can’t be beaten. You and I started working together back in 2016 and I know you were impressed back then with the Delphix capability. How many implementations of Delphix do you think you have been involved in since then?
- Rahim: Since our first PoC together in Turkey, in July 2016 I have been involved with more than 20 Delphix projects. These include PoCs and deployments at the customers after the sale process concluded. Other than that maybe more than 100 presentations, meetings, white board discussions.
Gary: That’s a lot of experience with the Delphix product and great advocacy. What is your impression, then of the Delphix solution and how does it fit in with the portfolio of products that Accuras recommends / works with for its customers?
- Rahim: When I was first introduced to Delphix I was most impressed with the idea of the product and the genius behind it. Here is a product solving the most important problem in many enterprises: Data. In Accuras we are always focusing on solving difficult problems for our customers, Delphix fits into our portfolio so perfectly that we have put it in the centre. We also have other solutions that focus on data and data security and these solutions, including Delphix, compliment and complete each other for data related challenges.
Gary: That’s interesting, I also suggest to customers that Delphix should lie at the heart of a Data strategy to accelerate data delivery for utility products and to simplify data access with a common platform. Coming back to the training, do you have any suggestions for the Delphix partner education team to improve the courses?
- Rahim: The trainings are great, the videos and the presentations and so on. Two suggestions I would make for improvements would be
1) There should be a module on different use cases for applying Delphix from all the customers around the world.
2) It would be great to have highly technical modules that focus on how Delphix works. Such as the detailed steps of ingestion, the management of OpenZFS, etc.
Gary: Good points, I like both of those. The first is something we should definitely do and I’m sure that can be implemented quickly, the second one would be useful; it’s always helpful for articulating the power of Delphix once you understand exactly how the magic works.
Back to Accuras as an organisation, one of the things that has impressed me about Accuras is the dedication to customer success and ensuring that customers achieve value from the Delphix product. With that dedication in mind, is there anything more that you think your customers should be doing to get more value from Delphix?
- Rahim: The idea behind our customer focus is that as Accuras, we are not just selling our customers a product. We think of this relationship as a partnership. This includes us being together with our customers all the way, from architecture and deployment to consultancy on DataOps. This is quite necessary when it comes to enterprise level customers because they are often challenged with keeping the business running and maintaining their existing software estate. They cannot afford to take too many risks and therefore it can be hard to move forwards, obtaining buy-in and working through lengthy decision-making processes. Accuras provides expertise and a partnership approach so that we can take the risks out of those decisions. We often suggest that customers move forward in small steps but focus on the broader goals. Those goals encompass making data accessible, ubiquitous and available securely for all of the various actors that need it; to run the business, to improve it, to beat the competition and to delight customers.
Gary: I like that idea of taking the risk out of IT decisions and the partnership approach. What, then are the key take-aways regarding implementing Delphix that you think customers and potential customers should consider when rolling out Delphix?
- Rahim: In all the implementations of Delphix we have always focused on communication and alignment of all parties in our customers and this focus has resulted great outcomes. I believe that a Delphix deployment is an important step towards more mature DataOps culture in all of our customers, so we are keen to bring all parties together. A good Delphix champion and good Project Management is always a plus. However, most important is to continually evolve the product after the installation. Take small steps that reap the most benefit but then grow from there. For most people it’s easy to see the initial tangible storage savings and data delivery speed that Delphix brings, but customers have to then look at changing their IT and business practices based upon this new capability and have a clear set of objectives to make incremental improvements and leverage all of the capabilities that a product offers. For the Delphix solution that includes things like self-service, utilising the SDK to virtualise more components and leveraging the API to automate data delivery for development, production support, business continuity and business intelligence functions.
Gary: Those are some really good points; I agree that you can’t beat having a good advocate and champion at a customer that helps to drive adoption and achieve the full value from a product. I think you can always tell when a project is going to go well, when you have passionate and engaged project teams. My favourite is watching a cynical, crusty old DBA (I think I’m allowed to say that being cynical and crusty myself) start to realise the potential of Delphix. But, I digress. Let’s get back to the product and can you tell me what are the key features that you like best about Delphix?
- Rahim: Self Service capabilities are the best features of Delphix in my view. That’s because Self Service just brings Delphix capabilities to another level. Allowing end users to manage their own data and environments in just few clicks and without any intervention from infrastructure teams is a game changer. As with most software, it might be possible to provide similar functionality by engaging multiple teams, acquiring the right skills and in-depth knowledge and spending thousands of hours in development. But even after all that work and continuous support it is not possible to provide the simplicity and capability that Delphix easily delivers with it’s Self Service interface. Perhaps more importantly this feature is delivered as part of the open REST API and a compiled, open-source wrapper that makes automating the process very simple.
Gary: I have to say that I completely agree with you here Rahim, Self-service and automating that through the incredibly capable dxToolkit is a game changer indeed. I notice that there is a reticence amongst some teams to hand over that level of control to end-users, but those organisation and DBA teams that embrace it, really see a massive improvement in productivity (and fewer weekend working hours).
Gary: Based on your experience and this game-changing nature of the product, what is the biggest value that Delphix brings to your customers do you think?
- Rahim: There are so many benefits we are providing to our customers when they buy Delphix but I think the biggest value might be that Delphix provides improvements in KPIs of everyone in the company: developers, infrastructure teams, their managers and directors and even the CIO and CEO as well.
Gary: That’s a really succinct way of putting it. Our sales teams are always highlighting the importance of articulating the business benefits that Delphix brings but you sum that all up nicely – Delphix provides a capability that lifts the performance metrics of the whole company.
You touched upon automation earlier, how many of the customers that you work with are leveraging automation with Delphix?
- Rahim: Right now all of our customers use automation with Delphix at different levels. There are some customers who are focusing on Delphix Hooks to automate the steps after virtual environments are provisioned and there are some who automate Delphix by using its API-first approach and connecting Delphix to their CI/CD orchestration.
Gary: Automation at different levels; of course, it’s a journey towards making all processes more efficient. I imagine it is much easier to automate mature, well understood processes. Speaking of maturity, what would you say to customers who are not currently using all of the Delphix features.
- Rahim: As Accuras, we are always challenging and enabling our customers to take the next steps. More automation, more virtualization, more Self Service. We are providing webinars, private sessions and other methods to give them a vision where all the data is automated, secure and ready.
Gary: Secure data is an interesting point and I see a lot of focus on it with our customers around the globe. What is your view of the Delphix Masking user interface and have you managed to take a look at the new Delphix Masking SDK?
- Rahim: I believe that Delphix Masking User Interface is a fantastic tool that makes the masking process available to non-technical users. You can focus on the business and security imperatives. I’ve suggested a few areas for practical improvements to fine tune the UI. The Delphix Masking Product Team has done some great work recently and the tool has become much easier to use. The new Character Mapping algorithms that replace Segmented Mapping are fantastic and really accelerate the delivery of masking. I have to commend the masking product team as their work, especially after version 6 is phenomenal. With the new Delphix Masking SDK they have already taken the things into another level, such good work.
Gary: I heard that you masked a 2 billion row table the other week in a pretty large database. What is the biggest database you have virtualised with Delphix and how long did it take to implement and get the first Virtual Database working?
- Rahim: We have couple of customers that have virtualized 100+TB databases with Delphix. It just takes a couple of days depending on the data ingestion configuration and the customer’s requirements and then, once ingested it’s like a breath of fresh air as everything goes smoothly. We have virtualized a 90TB Oracle database in 7 minutes in a PoC environment at one of our customers. On top of that I have seen a 130TB virtual database that can be opened with latest data and ready to be used in less than an hour.
Gary: I’m always impressed with the size of the databases you work with at Accuras – it seems like you solve real world problems for your customers. In fact, I think you might have the biggest and fastest VDB in Delphix! Mind you, I’ve heard stories of a card payment company who virtualised a 205TB database.
Have you had a chance to work with the Delphix Central Management feature – Data Control Tower?
- Rahim: I am aware of Data Control Tower and I find it a really good idea to manage multiple Delphix Engines in enterprise customers. Currently we’re not using Data Control Tower in our customers. Since it is a public cloud native implementation, I think it takes some time for enterprise customers to come to terms with that model. We certainly have plans engage our customers with such capability – especially for those who are starting to have quite large Delphix estates. I think it’s essential to have central control, especially when deploying across large enterprises and when moving towards a multi-cloud architecture.
Gary: You bring up a good point about the cloud, I see different approaches in different countries. Often cloud adoption accelerates when public clouds can guarantee data residency, but you are right in that many enterprises and industries haven’t adopted public cloud yet for their core systems. I have heard a rumour that we will be providing an on-premise data control tower in the future – I think that would be a good move. An interesting feature of the product is the self-service user management that it provides.
Talking of clouds, how many platforms have you used Delphix on? I’m talking about on-premise, VMWare, Hyper-V, clouds.
- Rahim: In many cases our customers are using Delphix on the VMWare hypervisor, but I also had the chance to run Delphix in AWS and Hyper-V. This kind of platform availability is one the strong features of Delphix. We also have some prospects where we can have the chance to use multi-cloud Delphix deployments.
Gary: Yes, the multi-platform capability is powerful, especially for cloud migration and multi-cloud use cases. Do many of your customers use the Replication feature? Have you seen many improvements with that?
- Rahim: Replication is a great feature of Delphix and we are using it in many of our customers. The ability to mask in Production and send only the masked data to end environments enables many of our customers to work with secure data and provides a nice feature for ensuring that sensitive production data remains in the production zone.
Gary: I know that Turkish banks are very diligent when it comes to business continuity and failover, an imperative for all critical infrastructures – do all of your customers use the replication feature to ensure non-production databases have a fast recovery time?
- Rahim: Yes, we have customers using the Delphix replication feature for providing extra resilience for non-production systems, in one in particular where they have a large test and development team, we regularly run failover scenarios with them just to see that everything is in place and running smoothly. Recovering all the non-Prod environments in less than an hour is a great feature that helps everyone when it comes to crisis management.
Gary: Accuras now delivers Delphix across Middle East and Africa as well as Turkey, how has the pandemic affected or changed the way you work and are you able to support customers across the MEA territory.
- Rahim: We are working as Delphix Value Added Distributor in Middle East and Africa and with pandemic going all around the world we have increased our efforts to reach more customers in these regions so that we can help them in this day and age where being digitally agile might mean life or death. We have delivered many PoCs and deployments for our customers in the region and we are engaging many more. Our partners in the region are very happy with us and we work with them to reach out to more customers as well as giving them enablement sessions so that they can carry out these projects together with our continuous support.
Gary: It’s been a difficult year across the globe, how do you see the IT market in Turkey?
- Rahim: The Turkish market in general was quite agile when we look back to 2020. Of course, the business slowed down in some areas but digitalization across many companies goes up and we have also seen that our customers were very happy with all the benefits that Delphix brought. I think we’ll see further moves to speed up data access and automate data delivery across all industries.
Gary: Have you or your customers integrated Delphix with any other technologies?
- Rahim: Many of our customers are using Delphix to provide fast and secure data for their development, test and UAT environments. In these implementations they integrate Delphix with mostly CI/CD products. We are also working with some customers to deliver APM integrations in their environments, providing data into root cause analysis environment to provide rapid outage response and reduce the mean recovery times.
Gary: I know that you recently worked with Virtualising Oracle’s E-Business Suite with Delphix. Often such CRM/ERP platforms can be very complicated. How did you find virtualizing EBS with Delphix?
- Rahim: I believe I can say it’s a blessing that Delphix being able to virtualize such a complex and intertwined system like Oracle E-Business Suite. The procedure is quite straight forward even though the EBS itself and its customizations can be quite complex and challenging. We are planning to introduce automation in our EBS virtualization so that a refresh (that currently might take days or even weeks in some cases) can be handled in just hours with little to no intervention from EBS admins.
Gary: Yes, I’ve heard great stories from customers who have implemented the full-stack virtualisation of EBS. I’ve never heard anyone say that it’s a blessing, but that’s probably an apt description in the way that it can save a lot of heartache as well as time.
It’s been brilliant talking with you Rahim. Coming back to the training and certification, you have a comprehensive technology background as described earlier, what would you say are the key skills that are required to understand and implement Delphix.
- Rahim: I have a background in many areas such as system administration, testing, architecture, etc. Delphix looks quite an easy tool at a first glance and really simplifies data operations, but diving into details requires understanding many things. Networking, storage, hypervisors are the first things that come to mind. Some key skills that will help anyone to work with Delphix are system and database management, knowledge of Windows, Linux and Unix systems as well as bash and powershell scripting and general understanding of CI/CD and DevOps.
Gary: That’s a good insight and good summary, finally then, which was your favourite course – Masking, Virtualisation presales or Services?
- Rahim: All of the courses were great, but I loved the Virtualization and Services courses most from the training sessions. It’s the core Delphix feature that I am constantly impressed with.
Gary: I agree, the simplicity of the virtualisation feature and the capability it provides never ceases to make me smile and makes working at Delphix a joy. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts with us Rahim – it’s been great to have you and the Accuras team operating as a dedicated, extended arm of Delphix in the MEA region, with a delivery capability that is second to none. Good luck with that 130TB database; amazing work and congratulations once again of being the World’s first person to achieve all three available Mastery certificates. Well done.#Accuras#Education#badging