When I was interviewing with Delphix, part of the process included a face-to-face with our founder, Jed Yueh. The topic of EBS came up and what Delphix was doing to address the EBS cloning challenge. At the time, Delphix only supported Oracle and Microsoft SQL Server databases. Jed was explaining how EBS database cloning went from hours/days down to minutes. I remember thinking to myself cloning the database is only half of the challenge because most companies are split half and half in the time taken to clone the database as well as the EBS application. Fast-forward 30 months later and here we are talking about cloning the entire EBS stack, database and application.
Here are the highlights from when Delphix first released support for the EBS application stack:
- Delphix v4.0 June 2014 – First version released for full EBS stack provisioning with EBS v12.1.x
- Delphix v4.1 October 2014 – Minor fixes
- Delphix v4.2 March 2015 – Delphix releases support for EBS v11.5.10.x and v12.2.x
- Delphix v4.3 October 2015 – Jet Stream Ordered Sources are introduced to allow a dbTechStack, database and appsTier a definitive order in startup/shutdown and treated as a unit on operations such as refresh, rewind, reset and bookmark
I often have the privilege of speaking with many prospects that have significant challenges associated with cloning environments. It varies all over the map how EBS customers clone their environments. Some take a scripting approach, others rely on storage-based technologies and there are some that still continue to perform a manual clone today. The one commonality all of them share is they maintain a run book of how to clone to in their environment. When we have the opportunity to review the run book, we can quickly show you were the time savings will reside.
Here is a table I like to share with customers so they can see the timesaving in the EBS cloning process with Delphix.
Delphix is transformational software. It is quite a sight when you are working with a prospect and the light bulb goes off when they realize what all they can now achieve with Delphix. This is more than just a cloning solution. It is a new way of thinking in how you manage all of your EBS projects. Whether it is production support and staying “current” on patches, implementing new modules, hardware migrations, platform migrations or even making the jump to the cloud, Delphix will accelerate all of these projects.
Let’s break this down in a simple manner and then dive into the specific components of EBS. At the heart of what Delphix does is it ingests a source (think production) and provisions a target (think dev / test / uat). Delphix stays in sync with the source. This dramatically cuts down on copy time, because the copy is already complete. It isn’t something you have to take since it is already in Delphix. Being Delphix is fully EBS aware, the adpreclone process in integrated. Now you are able to provision out a copy when you need it in a matter of minutes. The data already resides inside of Delphix. Delphix will automatically mount the data over the network to a target server and run a workflow to complete the process.
So now let’s apply that same concept to EBS. Let’s say we are synced to your production EBS environment and we are going to create a brand new UAT copy. The dbTechStack would first be provisioned out to the target server. In order to do that, you would run through the dbTechStack provisioning wizard and answer the typical type of questions you would with adcfgclone. The end result is we have a functioning dbTechStack and a listener on the target server. Often this is completed in 5-10 minutes. Here is a screen shot of the dbTechStack provisioning wizard.
Next up is the database portion. The database will use the dbTechStack we provisioned in the previous step. This step generally completes in 5-10 minutes as well. Here is a screenshot from the database provisioning wizard.
Finally we have the appsTier left. Just like the dbTechStack, we do not have to take a copy of the application binaries because they are already synced into Delphix. The questions will look very similar to what you see in adcfgclone today. This portion of the clone will take the longest because adcfgclone is going to take the same amount of time with or without Delphix. Depending on the EBS version this could take 20 minutes with v12.1 or 90 minutes with v12.2. For completeness, here is a screenshot provisioning the appsTier.
One of the benefits of Delphix is a reduction in storage use with your EBS environments. This is more of a by-product of what we do. In the below screen shot is the Capacity screen. A VISION 12.1.3 environment is synced into Delphix and a VISDEV environment is provisioned. You can see the storage savings are significant.
So what’s left? That all is going to depend what steps you run after completing adcfgclone on the appsTier. Some additional steps might be CONTEXT_FILE updates, SSL/SSO, changing the APPS password, Workflow Notification Mailer settings or placing Concurrent Requests on-hold. The list is as varied as with each customer we work with. We have a powerful mechanism built inside of Delphix called Hook operations. Hook operations allow you to execute an ordered list of custom operations as part of the syncing, provisioning, and refresh process. All of the post-clone steps can be automated and integrated inside of Delphix as a Hook operation.
I have been working with EBS for approximately 15 years and started with v10.7. Over those 15 years, I have been in production support, on the road as a consultant and even a team lead of Apps DBAs spanning multiple acconts. One of the biggest challenges I see with clients is they over-engineer their non-production EBS environments. You need to step back and look at the purpose and end-user of the environment. In 90% of the time, the environments are for developers and testers. They really don’t care what the underlying architecture looks like. All they want is a reliable application they can launch the self-service or the forms UI and run Concurrent Requests in. It doesn't matter to them if the database is running on ASM or there are multiple application servers.
The benefits of provisioning EBS environments with Delphix now become overwhelming positive. Data delivery is now 100x faster because data isn't being copied back and forth between production and non-production. High quality data is being provided so errors are caught earlier in the development cycle. We haven’t even talked about the benefits of Jet Stream or integrated masking. We are just scratching the surface of what all is possible with Delphix and EBS. The overall effect is customers accelerate their projects, reducing the risk of budget overruns and boosting the ROI for EBS.
What next on the horizon with Delphix and EBS? Stay tuned early next year to see what’s in store.
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