Redgate Announces New SQL Server Database Cloning Tool

Redgate, a Cambridge-UK based software company that develops SQL Server tools, has launched the beta of its new database cloning tool called SQL Clone that enables databases to be cloned quickly, while saving up to 99% of disk space.

According to the company, the new technology resolves a long-standing issue in software development. Typically, this involves database administrators having to provision a copy of the database for each developer request, which takes up valuable time as well as disk space. The result is that teams end up working on outdated versions of the database in a shared environment, rather than having the freedom to work on isolated local versions that can be created and deleted rapidly.

SQL Clone enables developers to have their own local copy of the database, and testers to have realistic versions of what the production database actually looks like. SQL Clone creates a single data image of a live SQL Server database or backup, which is used as the source data from which the clones are derived. Clones can then be created rapidly, with each clone taking up only about 40MB, even for databases of 2TB in size.

The clones work like normal SQL Server databases and can be connected to and edited with any program, Red-Gate says. As a result, they can be used for accurate development and testing, or to diagnose issues in production, with developers having a realistic server environment and data set that doesn't waste disk space.

SQL Clone uses virtualization technology built into 64-bit Windows, according to Richard Macaskill, product manager Red-Gate.

An advantage comes when developers make changes to the cloned database. Data is accessed from the original data image, and changes are saved locally. Nothing actually touches or affects the original database or backup file and the data image is also immutable. Instead, changes made to clones are stored in a local differencing file where the clone is located.

This means that, rather than developers having to share a copy of a database, they can work with the database as they do with code, free to experiment, reverting changes at will, and sharing work when it's ready, explains Macaskill.

The development team at Redgate is now enhancing the tool so that when it's fully launched, users will be able to automate jobs using PowerShell.

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