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February 18, 2016updated 31 Aug 2016 5:12pm

How to save database costs by shrinking the data footprint

C-level briefing: Delphix, with its own DaaS offering, is aiming to reduce technical debt.

By James Nunns

For years organisations have been told to collect data, and that the collected data is valuable and the more the merrier.

This has resulted in businesses having huge stashes of data stored away with it doing little but result in technical debt caused by storage costs. In essence, the business is paying to power storage to hold data that may never get used.

This technical debt can result in wasted budget, so instead of having money to innovate and drive the business forward, it is being weighed down by storage costs.

To remedy this, Delphix, a software company that develops software for simplifying the building, testing, and upgrading of applications built on relational databases, has created a Data as a Service offering.

Don’t confuse this with the buying and selling of data which CBR wrote about recently. What Delphix is doing is, at its most basic, is reducing the size of the data footprint.

Iain Chidgey, VP and GM at Delphix spoke to CBR to explain what it is they do and how it helps to significantly reduce the burden of technical debt.

Chidgey said that on the non-production side there are typically people that want to, for example, launch new marketing plans and so are developing and upgrading applications. These workers will have a copy of the production database in non-production, and there could be as many as 30 copies of that same data so people can work on it.

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"Now you’re copying the same data there and then you’re moving the same data into the data warehouse for example and you’re backing up all this data as well, so that same data about you is being spread around the whole organisation," said Chidgey.

Because so many copies of the data are being made, what may have started as 10TB of data now has a tail of 100TB all requiring storage that is draining money.

Not only is this a burden on storage but when looking at European Union data privacy laws, how does the business answer where the data is?

Explaining how this problem came about, Chidgey said: "It’s kind of like exponential growth, like how bacteria multiply in War of the Worlds, they multiply in a drop of water. Now it’s got to the stage where the technical debt, the gravity, has got too big for itself – like a star gets too big for itself and implodes, finally becoming a pulsar."

To remedy this, Delphix looked at virtualising the data so that there is one data block within the company, which can then be divided up to whatever systems need it, working as a pointer so that the business always knows where the data is.

The advantage of this is that non-production areas can now have data quickly.

All of this boils down to control over data in the business and provisioning that data to where it is needed, but importantly maintaining insight into where it is.

Chidgey said: "So imagine a different world where you automate the movement of that data around, you can click a button and that data will arrive automatically.

"And imagine instead of having that 1TB copied a 100 times, you can still have that 100 environments if you wanted, but that 1TB is now held within a piece of software that will compress that 1TB and move into half a terabyte and allow people to access it how they want."

Because the heavy tail of data has been removed, the business can much more easily move its data, solving the data gravity conundrum, which arises because data has its own mass. The problem with putting very large pieces of data into the cloud is that it can be difficult to then get that data out of the cloud.

Had the data been moved to the cloud before shrinking the data footprint, with the business having 100 copies of its database, then it would need to pay for 100 servers. While cloud may be cheaper, that is still an unnecessary expenditure.

Delphix says that it could shrink that 100TB of data to around 10TB, making it a lot easier to move to the cloud and because it is a smaller amount of data to move, it allows the business to be cloud agnostic.

A smaller chunk of data is easier to manage, making compliance and reporting much easier, which will become increasingly important over the next couple of years when the EU General Data Protection Regulation comes into force.

Businesses could be hit with fines of up to 4% of global revenue if they are found to be misusing personal data, fail to report a data breach or haven’t done enough to reduce the risk of a data breach.

Businesses will have to inform customers of data that has been breached, but if they are unaware of where the data is in the first place then it is going to be an extremely difficult task. Simply put, shrinking the data footprint to simplify reporting makes sense.

By shrinking the data the security officers know where the data is, Chidgey said: "Before putting locks on all my doors, you should ask how many doors I have and how many do I need. Lets control my data first, take the cost out and have greater control.

"Now security is an enabler to the business rather than slowing it down."

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