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XClone Saves Time and Money for Oracle DBAs at Lloyds TSB, One of Europe's Largest Banks

  • July 01 2002, 1:00am EDT

REVIEWER: Huw Ellison, group IT support manager, Lloyds TSB Group.

BACKGROUND: Lloyds TSB is part of the Lloyds TSB Group ­ one of the leading UK-based financial services groups, whose businesses provide a comprehensive range of banking and financial services in the UK and overseas. At the end of 1999, total Group assets were £176 billion ($255 billion), and there were more than 76,000 employees. Operating profit in 2001 increased by £267 million ($386 million), or six percent, to £4,462 million ($6,457 million) from £4,195 million ($6,070 million) in 2000.

PLATFORMS: Two IBM RS/6000s, Model S80, each with 12 processors running AIX Version 4.33.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Lloyds TSB Bank is using Oracle HR 11i applications running on multiple Oracle server platforms. We are in the middle of a multiphased development program undergoing a rapid rate of development. We have six applications DBAs that bear responsibility for support of the live Oracle HR application (75,000 employees with self-service access) and also the development platform, which supports all of the various development work streams. The applications DBAs are responsible for six "master" environments, each a major Oracle implementation, totaling almost 1TB of application and data. Each master is cloned approximately every two weeks for a variety of reasons: support of the live application, multiple development streams, functional analysis, system testing, user-acceptance testing and training. This means we produce more than 250 cloned instances every year. Each clone took, on average, three days of DBA time ­ a total of 750 DBA days per year! XClone, from, completely automates the cloning process and has meant that our DBAs can schedule automatic cloning operations at off-peak hours. (This is particularly relevant as our HR users are online Monday through Saturday 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.) This has reduced the manual cloning effort to just minutes per clone. Our DBAs can now focus on more valuable deliverables.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: XClone allows us to define each master database environment. When we need to produce a clone, all we have to do is use XClone's graphical user interface and drag and drop the master icon into the clone zone. We then enter some clone-specific directives, and XClone automatically creates the cloned environment, including our Oracle HR applications and databases. The ROI for this product has been very impressive, paying for itself within a very short time. Not only is it saving us time and money; but it means that DBA resources can be deployed on performance tuning, problem resolution in other parts of our systems and delivering new software functionality ­ thereby allowing us to deliver solutions earlier and more cost- effectively. In the future, we expect to use XClone to produce symbolic clones (with pointers to the original application, but with copies of the data and new configuration files) and hybrid clones (similar to symbolic clones, but sharing the original application configuration files) which will help us dramatically reduce the footprint of our development environments.

STRENGTHS: Reliability (XClone works every time, the way we want), scalability (it works with everything from small to terabyte- sized instances), ease of use (a simple drag-and-drop interface), ROI (the product has paid for itself over and over again), scheduling (we can schedule multiple cloning operations for off-peak hours and weekends) and speed of implementation (the product installs in minutes, and runs out of the box). We have found no other solution that converts our production databases located on raw disk to "cooked" file systems.

WEAKNESSES: XClone does not yet run on our mainframe although the product is written in native Java. Therefore, it should be a formality according to Babboo. They've not yet delivered other plug- ins to enable us, for example, to clone our SAP applications.

SELECTION CRITERIA: There is nothing else out there in the marketplace. We are continually looking for ways to become more efficient, deliver solutions faster, cheaper and more reliably. XClone is helping us attain self- sufficiency.

DELIVERABLES: Naturally the new application and database instances ­ the clones ­ are the major output from XClone, but we also get detailed log information which we can use to produce management information.

VENDOR SUPPORT: The Babboo development team has worked with us on site, side by side with our full-time staff. This has not only helped us with a very smooth implementation, but we have also been able to influence the direction of the product. Babboo has provided us with excellent support and is 100-percent committed to our success.

DOCUMENTATION: The product is intuitive, and the context- sensitive help is all we need in order to operate standalone from Babboo's technical support.

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