Quest SharePlex Review

Real-time replication means our data is available almost instantaneously if an issue occurs in one of our data centers

What is our primary use case?

Our application is hosted in multiple data centers and we primarily use SharePlex for keeping the data replicated from one data center to the other. We use it for business continuity, so that if we run into any issues in the primary data center where the application is currently hosted, with SharePlex we are in a position to switch over to the secondary data center, to do a failover, pretty much in real time.

We have Cisco UCS servers where we have our Oracle Databases running with Linux version 7. These are standalone databases, but I've been a part of a different business unit in our company where we had real application clusters. Right now, it's standalone Oracle 12c and we are migrating to 19c. We have SharePlex replicating Oracle data. It is IoT data so the number of transactions happening is huge. SharePlex keeps the data in sync with the other data center, which has almost the same configuration of the bare-metal servers, Linux, Oracle and SharePlex.

We primarily use SharePlex for the IDBMS, but we have also used SharePlex for Postgres and for Kafka.

Our implementation of SharePlex is entirely on-premises.

How has it helped my organization?

We use it for more than high availability and disaster recovery. It keeps the data replicating, live, to our other data center. To a certain extent it provides us with disaster recovery, but we rely heavily on it because if any network or other type of issue happens in the primary data center, due to SharePlex replication being real-time we have the data available almost instantaneously in the other data center. We have the primary data center in the U.S. and the other data center could be in Europe or Asia-Pacific.

In addition to business continuity, which is what we primarily use SharePlex for, it helps us do all our maintenance, when there are both planned and unplanned outages. In general, it helps us avoid any kinds of outages. For planned maintenance, if the entire data center networking infrastructure has to be upgraded, thanks to the SharePlex replication we just fail over the application to the other data center and carry out the maintenance in the primary data center. That maintenance could take hours or even a day. SharePlex seamlessly replicates all the data. There is no data loss and all the backlog data is replicated and posted on all the other data centers within a few hours.

It also enables us to maintain high availability while reducing the related hardware and storage costs.

What is most valuable?

Because of the volume of the transactions, we heavily use a feature that allows SharePlex to replicate thousands of transactions. It's called PEP, Post Enhancement Performance, and that has helped us scale tremendously.

What needs improvement?

I would like the solution to have some kind of machine learning and AI capabilities. Often, if we want to improve the performance of posting, we have to bump up a parameter. That means we need to stop the process, come up with a figure that we want to bump the parameter up to, and then start SharePlex. Machine learning and AI capabilities for these kinds of improvement would tremendously help boost productivity for us. We have discussed this and they have said it is in their future pipeline, but not with a definite date at which we will see this type of feature.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using Quest SharePlex since 2007.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The product is quite stable and robust. We never run into any out-of-sync issues that happen in our application products. I can hardly remember anything happening for a very long time.

Since I started working here in 2007, we have been through so many upgrades from Oracle 7 to 8, 10, 11, 12, and 19. These are just versions that are compatible with the databases. But we have also had interim SharePlex versions when we found features we would like to avail ourselves of, and it's been very smooth.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It is quite scalable. Support has given us different ways to scale while managing and maintaining databases that are in the terabytes. We haven't had any situations where the scalability of replication became a major issue.

SharePlex is being used extensively in our organization. It's a part of our "DNA," primarily when it comes to high availability of applications and maintenance, because without having real-time data available in the other data center, we wouldn't be able to provide this kind of availability and scalability for our infrastructure and for our customers. 

We are increasing usage. As we are getting more and more customers, we are expanding and are getting more IoT data. As a result, we are doing more and more implementations of SharePlex. It is literally in all our geographies. We have it in our China data centers, we have it in Canada, in the U.S., and Europe. We have it implemented across the world.

How are customer service and technical support?

We have Premier Support. As a result, any type of support case we submit is looked into almost instantaneously. We can call the support number, and if it's a severity-one case, we literally have someone working with us in a few minutes.

Premier Support from Quest was one of the clinching benefits at the time we evaluated GoldenGate. It was one of the things that all the DBAs, unanimously, were really feeling great about. It meant not having to go through the support that Oracle has for GoldenGate. Since most of our DBAs are quite experienced, whenever we create a case we have literally exhausted all the options that we could, as senior people who have been using replication. SharePlex support understands that whenever we create a case, it's really a genuine issue and they literally jump onto a WebEx session with us instantly. Premier Support is absolutely fantastic.

The Premier Support also adds overall value to our investment with Quest. They have escalation. Whenever we spend a few minutes with them and they realize that an issue is something that needs escalation, they are quick in getting a senior support person on the WebEx session, helping us out, and providing a solution. We have had their support during the night, at times, working in the USA, trying to help understand all the issues and apply the solutions.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

SharePlex was already working here when I started with the company. We did use a little bit of Oracle Streams, which was, of course, before Oracle acquired GoldenGate. We tried to use Streams and we ran into a lot of issues with it. We were looking at it as an alternative, to see if it had any additional features. But we continued to like the simplicity and scalability and support that we had with SharePlex.

How was the initial setup?

It is a very simple installation, right from setting up new databases between two data centers and setting up replication, to configuring it. We have database releases happening all the time, every few weeks. The initial configuration, such as adding new tables to replication, is very simple and straightforward. 

Deployment takes a few minutes, because I've been working with it for a while. For someone who has not worked with replication products, it might take a bit of time. But I did a proof of concept of GoldenGate and, when we did the compare and contrast, SharePlex was still very simple to install and configure and upgrade.

In terms of implementation, having the right file system helps. We use NFS. And we are a NetApp shop so we use NetApp for SharePlex. Having the right kinds of permissions for the NetApp file systems is also important, and they are well documented in the SharePlex Knowledge Base.

Installing it is very simple. Anybody who understands English and databases would be able to follow a few prompts and install the software. Adding tables for replication is also very simple. You have the source database name, you know the target database name, and you know the Oracle tables to be replicated. That's about it.

Deploying just requires a DBA, and we have terabytes of data being managed and replicated within Oracle databases using SharePlex. One of the biggest databases is 80 to 100 terabytes. For maintenance of SharePlex, in the business unit I'm part of, we have 100 or so databases, and each database has five to seven SharePlex bots that are replicating data to the other side. We have three people in the U.S. who manage and maintain it. We also have four or five people in India, but we do most of the installation, configuration, and upgrades in the U.S. We find it very smooth, without any hiccups. All the people managing are Oracle, SQL, and NoSQL DBAs. It's the DBAs who manage the production, development, and QA environments.

What about the implementation team?

We have so much in-house expertise that we have not needed third-party assistance. Everybody here has been working for at least three to five years. That solid knowledge base of our own helps any newcomer. We can go over it in a few hours and get them up to speed.

What was our ROI?

We have absolutely seen return on investment from using SharePlex. We have never run into any issues when we have had to fail over our applications to another data center. There has never been an issue with data not being available. That, itself, has been ROI. In addition, for any network issues or any user-related errors that have happened, we have seen a tremendous return on investment.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

It's really good value for the money. There are some things they could improve on, but in terms of the pricing, features, and support, as a holistic package, we are not thinking of anything else at this point in time.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We really haven't evaluated anything other than GoldenGate, which was evaluated a few years back. The licensing cost and the support are what kept SharePlex our chosen product.

We really didn't go beyond the proof of concept with GoldenGate, so I can't comment on its performance. We didn't go into production with GoldenGate. But the factors that really made us retain Quest were the simple installation and configuration. We could be a little biased because we have been using the product for a while, but most of the DBAs agreed that GoldenGate was more complex to set up.

And the licensing of GoldenGate was expensive—two to three times more expensive than SharePlex. 

And when it came to support, we didn't get any indication from Oracle that we could have a different level of support when we ran into issues, such as getting someone really quickly on a WebEx session to go at an issue.

What other advice do I have?

It's very simple to use and to install and the support they provide helps with the return on investment. It helps you achieve high availability for your applications.

We haven't used SharePlex for upgrades and migrations simply because, having replicated the data to our other data center, we can bring down the data center where we want to do the upgrade or the migration, and have the data backlogged in the other data center. When we are done with the upgrade, we just get the data posted, in SharePlex terms.

I would highly recommend SharePlex for beginners or even for people who are evaluating other products or doing proofs of concept. Try it out in your production and you won't be disappointed. It just works. Install it and forget about it.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?


Which version of this solution are you currently using?

**Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
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