In my last blog, Moving Your Data to the Cloud? Location Matters, I reviewed some of the reasons that location matters when you move data to "the cloud".  Our customers tell us that two major challenges on their journey to the cloud are security and performance.   In this blog, I'll show you how SharePlex and other tools from Quest can assist in mitigating these challenges.

What is SharePlex

SharePlex is Quest's Oracle to Oracle Database Replication product.   SharePlex replicates data from one Oracle database to another, keeping data in two (or more) databases synchronized in near real-time.   SharePlex reads the redo log from the source, and applies those changes to the target. Here are some of the use cases for SharePlex.

SharePlex and Cloud

The most common use for SharePlex in a cloud environment is migration; that is, assisting in getting your data to the cloud from either an on-premise or hosted database. But, there are other relevant use cases as well.  Perhaps you can't move ALL of your data to the cloud at once; or, perhaps some of your data is so critical it will never move to the cloud.  Maybe you have multiple databases that you want to consolidate into the cloud, for analytics. You can use SharePlex to support these use cases as well.  We also have customers who are using SharePlex to cross "region boundaries" in various clouds, for redundancy (Disaster Recovery) and performance reasons.

I'll concentrate here on the use cases that can assist in addressing performance and security challenges.  You can visit the SharePlex Product page to find out more about all of the uses for SharePlex.

Security

Protecting data from unauthorized access or change is one of today's biggest challenges.   One of the ways to protect data is to reduce the "attack surface" or accessibility  to that data.   When your data is stored on-premise or hosted in a secure facility, access can be relatively easy to control.   When you move your data to the cloud, you'll need to transport that data across a wide area network that may or may not be secure; or, securing the network might incur additional costs.   

One way SharePlex can help here is partial replication.   You can move only less-sensitive data to the cloud, for reporting or analytics, and retain the most sensitive data on-premise.  This partial replication can be accomplished at the schema, table or even column level.  Using partial replication means that your sensitive data never leaves your control.

Other considerations come up during migration.  Unless you ship physical media; getting your data to the cloud will involve moving that data across a network, perhaps even the Internet.  SharePlex can be configured to encrypt your data as it's transmitted; keeping it safe without incurring the costs of either a private network or performance and maintenance challenges of VPN.   

Perhaps you don't want to migrate all of your data at once.   In this case you can use SharePlex to keep data in your on-premise database synchronized with your cloud database, as you migrate applications over a period of time.

In order to effectively secure your data, you need to know which data elements need to be secured.   It's easy to determine the data in the "CUSTOMER_SSN" or "CREDIT_CARD_NO" columns need to be secured; but, what about the data stored in a column named "FLEX_FIELD_1" or "T12C15"?   Quest Tools can assist in identifying your secure data as well.. You can  download a free trial of TOAD for Oracle Sensitive Data Protection here  or read blogs specific to TOAD for Oracle Sensitive Data Protection..

Performance

A customer recently asked Quest to assist in migrating several multi-terabyte databases from on-premise to a major cloud provider.   They contacted us in the middle of testing their first migration; importing their data into the cloud had been running for 11 days and was not finished.  They were able to install SharePlex, and using the SharePlex "Resume Replication" feature, they were able to complete the data move and actually use that data for testing.  They're looking forward to using SharePlex to complete their production migration later this year, with near-zero downtime.  You can find out more about how SharePlex can be used for near-zero downtime migrations, either to the cloud or on-premise, in this blog Four simple tips for a stress free oracle database migration.

As this story illustrates, one of the challenges in moving data to the cloud is just that, moving the data, often across slow networks.   Once you've moved the data and completed your migration, you still have to access that data, over that same network.    Major cloud vendors all have "fast" network solutions that can connect your internal network to the cloud; but, as the saying goes, "Speed costs money".   

SharePlex can assist with performance in several ways.   First, as in the case above, using SharePlex to assist in migration actually takes network speed out of the equation.   Since SharePlex keeps copies of transactions that occur after you start your copy; you don't need to incur downtime for a "consistent copy" and, it really doesn't matter if copy takes hours or days.

More importantly, if you have an application needs response time that can't be achieved in the cloud; you can use SharePlex to keep an on-premise database synchronized with your cloud database, and partial replication to move only the data that's needed.

Finally, depending on your specific use case; locating the SharePlex binaries in the "correct" place could offer some performance gains.  For example,, if you're using your cloud database for DR or analytics and currently using Oracle Networking for DataGuard or remote updates to the cloud; you may find that replacing those with SharePlex replication will put less traffic on your network connection between your on-premise system and the cloud.  SharePlex only transfers the changed data, and not the entire log, and since SharePlex is asynchronous, the source database won't be waiting on "write completes" from the target; but SharePlex will still guarantee the data will get there.

Stay tuned

I hope you've found this blog helpful.  In the next blog in this series, we'll dive a bit deeper into SharePlex itself and offer some specific suggestions about locating and configuring the SharePlex components in an on-premise to cloud or cloud to cloud environment.

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