INDUSTRY INSIGHT

How data virtualization speeds application delivery

Applications are the lifeblood of government IT.  They help agencies do more with less while delivering services for citizens and warfighters.  In government’s increasingly transparent and budget-conscious world, agencies are being pressured to modernize their applications and IT environments to quickly roll out more comprehensive applications.

While more applications will increase the services government can offer, they also bring challenges, namely time and budget.

Traditionally, application installs or upgrades can take months, or even years, to complete, which drives up costs. Often a development team’s request for a copy of the last application release gets bogged down while waiting for database, storage and systems administrators to allocate storage, network and server space. Additionally, each copy of an application environment and its data consumes redundant infrastructure and requires weeks of time to provision.

Virtualizing data, however, can significantly increase the success rate of an agency’s application development projects by enabling better data management and faster delivery of applications in a risk-free environment.

Virtualization involves creating a virtual instance of a specific item – whether it’s a server, application or desktop. In the case of applications, data can be virtualized from databases, data warehouses, applications and files. This enables application development teams to create environments in minutes – eliminating the inefficient process associated with building environments for the application and testing teams.  

When copies of applications are created, data blocks are shared across all copies so each copy looks and behaves like its own separate, fully functional environment for testing, development and reporting. Using application programming interfaces (APIs), source applications can connect with one another, copy data blocks and create a single master image that can be shared across more than 20 virtual environments.

As data blocks are shared across numerous copies, each new environment takes up only minimal space and can be created in minutes.

Benefits of virtualizing

Using virtualization to roll out new applications provides agencies several advantages, including reduction in time, money and resources. Overall, the biggest benefit is increased project output.  The automated process of creating many copies of data so the right people can access what they need, when they need it, eliminates approval delays and cross-departmental dependencies. It also lets application development teams conduct parallel development and testing, increasing project output by up to 80 percent. Likewise, access to point-in-time application data also helps agencies provide greater quality assurance and lets them fix errors in significantly less time.

Other benefits include:

  • Infrastructure space requirements can be reduced by 90 percent.
  • Application development teams can access everything they need as a self-service.
  • Virtual application data copies can be refreshed in minutes, bookmarked and rolled back to previous points in time.
  • Shared data blocks give applications flexible retention policies so data can easily be retained or recovered for backup, disaster recovery or application archival.
  • Complex application projects and tools can be deployed in minutes, running on any server and in any storage environment – including public or private clouds or hybrid environments.

The virtual application development approach enables broad access to data at any time without individuals being forced to wait for a lengthy request process.  Virtualized data also ensures the right data is available to the right people when they need it – promoting the efficiency and cost effectiveness needed in government.  

With this accelerated approach, agencies can innovate to supply warfighters, citizens or internal stakeholders the apps they need when they need it. 

About the Author

Ted Girard is vice president for Delphix Federal.

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