Delphix secures sensitive data in the cloud by virtualizing it

New approaches to data virtualization and masking are aiding the movement of enterprise datasets to the cloud while keeping them secure and versatile

Delphix secures sensitive data in the cloud by virtualizing it
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Many enterprises are reluctant to move sensitive data to the cloud -- for good reason. Copying tons of data for the sake of development is a huge hassle. It's also easy to make mistakes: Copy one file to the wrong place, and before you know it 10,000 credit card numbers are turning up in a Pastebin instance.

Delphix, a company that bills itself as a data-as-a-service (DaaS) provider, offers a solution: a software appliance that it claims can take existing data, make shadow copies that can be restored on demand, and mask sensitive information -- all in one package.

It's the latest example of data copy management and data virtualization, which offer new ways to handle data that are optimized for cloud environments. Instead of making full copies of multipetabyte data sets, an IT team can simply virtualize the set, including any changes made to it.

Delphix is aiming its appliance at developers, who are struggling with these problems and want to work with real-world data safely -- "self-service provisioning of data for test and dev," according to Rick Caccia, CMO of Delphix. "Customers say, well, if I have all this customer data being given to every Tom, Dick, and Harry in my organization, how do I make sure it's protected?" Caccia said.

A typical use case for Delphix's suite is to keep production work on-premises but have test/dev work performed in a cloud environment (such as Amazon). The suite allows users to "collect the data, virtualize it, mask [sensitive data within it], and replicate it" to the target environment, or even to move it wholesale to the target environment while keeping it masked.

Another Delphix function is archiving -- but without the overhead typically associated with making or restoring backups of data sets. "[Customers] often want to be able to archive older versions of the apps and the databases in the file systems, in case something goes wrong," Caccia said. This provides a sort of undo functionality for migrated data.

Data masking -- selectively blocking parts of a data set when retrieving it, such as credit card numbers or street addresses -- is a third common data-protection function that Delphix claims to provide. It is a commonly used data-protection method, offered by a number of data-management vendors (Informatica, for instance).

Delphix recently acquired Boston-based Axis Technology Software to better enable its secure, self-service data delivery, and have all of the above functions handled by a single product. This type of consolidation between different kinds of data protection and data virtualization is likely to become more common.

What Delphix -- and Informatica and others -- need to watch for is when the cloud providers also begin offering virtualized data as a standard-issue service. Such a move is likely to appeal to customers who have already made the leap to cloud-centered data storage, but if pitched right it could also entice those yet to make the full leap to the cloud.

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