Chris Lawless- Vice President Product Management at DBvisit
Dbvisit Software Ltd, the database replication (DR) company, is far from a household name. The company is 10 years old, headquartered in New Zealand and currently expanding into Asia with the help of Singapore-based industry veteran Hugh Sutherland.
From DSA’s perspective we were interested to understand what has been fuelling the company’s growth thus far. DSA recently spoke to Chris Lawless, the company’s vice president product management, who was in Kuala Lumpur for a promotional event, part of a wider tour of Asia.
His journey into the DR and replication space obviously wasn’t planned, as he explained that to begin with his degree had been in Soviet studies.
Nevertheless, his professional path has been closely linked to replication technology and Chris’ domain knowledge in this space is wide and not limited to his two years with Dbvisit.
In fact, Chris was with GoldenGate and continued with them after the acquisition by Oracle for another four years. So his history in replication data and applications is rather strong to say the least.
At first glance we see Dbvisit as a solid software company with a product that serves Oracle DBAs well but is likely to struggle for relevance in a world being dominated by virtual machines, cloud computing and big data.
Chris was keen to set us straight. He points out Dbvisit offers two products - both replicate Oracle databases and both are completely database aware. The products names are “standby’ and “replicate”.
He explained that broadly speaking, standby is a physical solution and replicate a logical solution and the company’s experience to date shows there is a place for both.
Standby creates and exacts clone of an Oracle database for DR purposes and needs a highly similar source and destination. For companies running Oracle Standard edition in a physical environment that need high availability and disaster recovery, Standby is in Chris’s opinion the strongest and most cost-effective solution on the market.
Chris may be right, but in our opinion it would be dangerous for Dbvisit to base their future on a physical product when the datacentres and the applications that run in those datacentres are fast becoming logical or software defined.
When we put this to Chris, it was clear that Dbvisit completely “gets” the change that is happening and in “replicate” they have built a logical product that plays to the challenges of applications based in virtualised and cloud environments.
Chris explained how in logical environments replicating applications becomes far more interesting than just a disaster recovery story. He went on to describe how the issues that Dbvisit now solve are no longer of interest just to Oracle DBA’s they are genuinely relevant to the lines of business within companies.
The message that Chris went to great length to explain was that cloud and virtualisation increases the need for a logically based replication product in many ways. People are demanding flexibility in the platform they use to run their applications, today they may want it on-premise on VMware, tomorrow sitting in the public cloud and the next day back on-premise but perhaps on Hyper V.
Replicate is a hardware and platform agnostic approach to database replication that is starting to enable this kind of flexibility. They don’t support every cloud and every hypervisor but at the current time we cannot think of a company that does.
DSA still questioned the need for specific database aware technology in this space. Knowing of a number of new DR and replication technologies that can handle crash consistent database recovery we wanted Chris’s view on this.
He countered that being database aware gives the Dbvisit replicate uniqueness and flexibility that positions the company well in the cloud era. First is the ability to move a database around independent of underlying platform regardless of type of cloud or on premise hardware.
However, more important still is the flexibility of moving data between different applications. By being application aware Dbvisit’s replicate can do this not only between different versions of Oracle but even between different database types such as Oracle to MySQL.
In our opinion at DSA we think Chris is onto something here. We have no empirical evidence, but our “toe in the water” feeling is that just as people will want flexibility between hypervisors, hardware and cloud providers, they are likely to want the ability to move their data between different databases or “data containers”.
On this last point Chris gave us an insight to Dbvisit’s future plans that possibly excited us more than anything else he mentioned. We raised the possibility that with the rise of Big Data and unstructured data formats, perhaps Dbvisit’s market will still disappear.
Through a wry smile Chris assured us that he was not worried. He pointed to the fact that even the mainframe is not disappearing any time fast so any thought that structured databases have a limited shelf life is simply incorrect.
That said Chris acknowledged that Big Data is a reality that is here to stay and revealed that Big Data is already part of the future for Dbvisit. By the end of this year Replicate will be able to move data directly from an Oracle database into a Hadoop cluster.
We agree with Chris, this is a great direction for Dbvisit to follow and a database aware logical replication tool that can extract structured data into a big data framework in real time will raise a lot of eyebrows and Dbvisit’s awareness at the same time.
Dbvisit has big ambitions for the region and tying them into Big Data makes sense to us at DSA.