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Sunday, August 3, 2014

Enhancements to Monitoring in EM12c Release 4

Dear Readers,
What are the enhancements to the Enterprise Monitoring Framework in EM12c Release 4? This is the framework that controls the monitoring of enterprise targets.
1.
Improvement - The “Target Down” status is detected by Enterprise Manager within seconds of its occurrence. This applies to the Database, Weblogic Server, Host, Agent as well as deployed applications. This kind of ability is very important for enterprise-level monitoring.
The Host level monitoring has also been improved. There is a new “Host Down” event, and a new “Host Up (Unmonitored)” status. This covers the situation where a host can be up but the agent is not running, rather than the situation in earlier releases where it was difficult to distinguish if the host was really up or down if the target showed as down.
These kinds of enhancements improve higher target availability, compliance with SLA goals, and diagnosability in the case of the agent unreachable event. See here for the documentation.
2.
Improvement - Thresholds are now more flexible, with the introduction of Time-based Static thresholds and Adaptive thresholds.
In the case of time-based static thresholds, different thresholds can be set up for different times of the day or night, since the workload will be different during the day and night. Or, different thresholds for the weekend as opposed to weekdays as in the following example.
Adaptive Thresholds are also available; these are thresholds auto-calculated on a percentage deviation from the norm. The norm is determined by a baseline behavior built from collected historical data. This helps us to be alerted on abnormal behavior. See here for the details.
3.
Improvement - SNMP Version 3 is now supported by Enterprise Manager; this version is more secure than the previous version. Notifications on events can be sent using SNMPv3 traps.
Security enhancements in Version 3 include authentication, that the message is from a valid source, and message integrity and encryption, that ensures the packet sent has not been tampered with. This enables Data Centers to comply with security best practices when sending event information from Enterprise Manager to third party monitoring systems.
This blog post was originally posted at this link.
Regards,
Porus.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Enterprise Manager Agent Deployment gets better on Windows

Dear Readers,
In Enterprise Manager 12c Release 4, released in June 2014, agent deployment on Windows just got better. In earlier versions, Cygwin was often used as the mechanism for an EM agent install on Windows target servers via a Push from the Oracle Management Service (OMS). This is no longer necessary.
The Push method is the most popular method for EM agent install, and uses standard protocols like SSH1 or SSH2 (offered by OpenSSH) on Unix systems.  However, for the Windows platform, the Push method used the capabilities of Cygwin. This software had to be installed separately, and was often a bone of contention with Windows administrators who did not prefer this Linux-like software to be installed on their Windows systems.
In EM12c Release 4, there is now an alternative. The PSExec software can be used for EM Agent pushes. This is a light-weight telnet replacement and is a part of Microsoft Windows Sysinternals software – have a look at this Microsoft link.
If your central EM12c OMS is already on Windows, then you can deploy the PSExec software on the OMS server itself, it takes less than a few minutes to deploy. If your OMS is not on Windows and you want to deploy the Windows EM agent to multiple Windows targets, then you need a staging Windows server on which PSExec can be deployed.  This deployment is a one-time activity. The PSExec software is not required on any target Windows server.
The step-by-step instructions for both these scenarios can be found in the EM Basic Installation guide at this link. A script to deploy agents using PSExec (agentDeployPsExec.bat) has also been made available, see MOS Note 1636851.1 . As per the note, this agentDeployPsExec.bat file works for both 12.1.0.3 /12.1.0.4 OMS. A response file is used along with this script for automatically inputting the information for agent installation, such as the host name, agent base directory, and so on.
In this way, EM agents can be installed seamlessly on multiple Windows targets, and in considerably lesser time than the time that was required for Cygwin setup and agent deployment. And it also makes a lot of Windows administrators happy, that they do not have to install Cygwin if they use the PSExec approach. This looks like another great enhancement in EM12c Release 4 by Oracle.

This blog post was originally posted at this link.
Regards,
Porus.

Database Cloud gets better in Enterprise Manager 12c Release 4

There are a number of great improvements to the Database-as-a-Service (DBaaS) capability in Enterprise Manager 12c Release 4.
As a recap, in earlier releases it was possible to set up a private database cloud very easily, so that developers, testers or project managers/business users could self-service the creation of new databases, schemas or pluggable databases (PDBs) as per a pre-defined quota,  and then have those databases, schemas or PDBs metered and used for dollar chargeback, so that each department knew exactly how much it was spending on IT services.
This was done through the set up of a pre-defined “Service Catalog” which defined small, medium, large, and other types of databases or schemas or PDBs., that did or did not have data from a gold copy.
In EM12c Release 4, the database service catalog is enhanced with the ability to create Oracle standby databases (usingOracle Data Guard) along with the main self-service database.  This is seen in the following screenshot where a service catalog is being used to create a new database, and two standby databases are being created at the same time in the self-service request.
Both single-instance and RAC standby databases can be created, with the ability to specify multiple standby environments. The versions of the database supported are Oracle Database 10.2.0.5, 11.1.0.7, 11.2.x, and 12.1 so far.Oracle Active Data Guard standby databases can also be set up, this gives the ability to have the standby database open in read only mode at the same time the redo logs are being applied to the Active Data Guard standby.
The ability to include SI, RAC and Active Data Guard standbys during self-service database creation makes the service catalog offering more robust, and the database as a service capability enterprise-grade, since it now allows the offering of Oracle Maximum Availability Architecture (MAA)-compliant databases to be created by the self-service DBaaS user.
This blog post was originally posted at this link.

Regards,
Porus.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

EM12c Release 4: Database as a Service Enhancements


Oracle Enterprise Manager 12.1.0.4 (or simply put EM12c R4) is the latest update to the product. As previous versions, this release provides tons of enhancements and bug fixes, attributing to improved stability and quality. One of the areas that is most exciting and has seen tremendous growth in the last few years is that of Database as a Service. EM12c R4 provides a significant update to Database as a Service. The key themes are:
  1. Comprehensive Database Service Catalog (includes single instance, RAC, and Data Guard)
  2. Additional Storage Options for Snap Clone (includes support for Database feature CloneDB)
  3. Improved Rapid Start Kits
  4. Extensible Metering and Chargeback
  5. Miscellaneous Enhancements

    1. Comprehensive Database Service Catalog
    Before we get deep into implementation of a service catalog, lets first understand what it is and what benefits it provides. Per ITIL, a service catalog is an exhaustive list of IT services that an organization provides or offers to its employees or customers. Service catalogs have been widely popular in the space of cloud computing, primarily as the medium to provide standardized and pre-approved service definitions. There is already some good collateral out there that talks about Oracle database service catalogs. The two whitepapers i recommend reading are:
    EM12c comes with an out-of-the-box service catalog and self service portal since release 1. For the customers, it provides the following benefits:
    • Present a collection of standardized database service definitions,
    • Define standardized pools of hardware and software for provisioning,
    • Role based access to cater to different class of users,
    • Automated procedures to provision the predefined database definitions,
    • Setup chargeback plans based on service tiers and database configuration sizes, etc
    Starting Release 4, the scope of services offered via the service catalog has been expanded to include databases with varying levels of availability - Single Instance (SI) or Real Application Clusters (RAC) databases with multiple data guard based standby databases. Some salient points of the data guard integration:
    • Standby pools can now be defined across different datacenters or within the same datacenter as the primary (this helps in modelling the concept of near and far DR sites)
    • The standby databases can be single instance, RAC, or RAC One Node databases
    • Multiple standby databases can be provisioned, where the maximum limit is determined by the version of database software
    • The standby databases can be in either mount or read only (requires active data guard option) mode
    • All database versions 10g to 12c supported (as certified with EM 12c)
    • All 3 protection modes can be used - Maximum availability, performance, security
    • Log apply can be set to sync or async along with the required apply lag
    The different service levels or service tiers are popularly represented using metals - Platinum, Gold, Silver, Bronze, and so on. The Oracle MAA whitepaper (referenced above) calls out the various service tiers as defined by Oracle's best practices, but customers can choose any logical combinations from the table below:
     Primary Standby [1 or more] EM 12cR4
     SI - 
     SI SI
     RAC-
     RACSI
     RACRAC
     RON-
     RONRON
    where RON = RAC One Node is supported via custom post-scripts in the service template
    sample service catalog would look like the image below. Here we have defined 4 service levels, which have been deployed across 2 data centers, and have 3 standardized sizes. Again, it is important to note that this is just an example to get the creative juices flowing. I imagine each customer would come up with their own catalog based on the application requirements, their RTO/RPO goals, and the product licenses they own. In the screenwatch titled 'Build Service Catalog using EM12c DBaaS', I walk through the complete steps required to setup this sample service catalog in EM12c.

    2. Additional Storage Options for Snap Clone
    In my previous blog posts, i have described the snap clone feature in detail. Essentially, it provides a storage agnostic, self service, rapid, and space efficient approach to solving your data cloning problems. The net benefit is that you get incredible amounts of storage savings (on average 90%) all while cloning databases in a matter of minutes. Space and Time, two things enterprises would love to save on. This feature has been designed with the goal of providing data cloning capabilities while protecting your existing investments in server, storage, and software. With this in mind, we have pursued with the dual solution approach of Hardware and Software. In the hardware approach, we connect directly to your storage appliances and perform all low level actions required to rapidly clone your databases. While in the software approach, we use an intermediate software layer to talk to any storage vendor or any storage configuration to perform the same low level actions. Thus delivering the benefits of database thin cloning, without requiring you to drastically changing the infrastructure or IT's operating style.
    In release 4, we expand the scope of options supported by snap clone with the addition of database CloneDB. While CloneDB is not a new feature, it was first introduced in 11.2.0.2 patchset, it has over the years become more stable and mature. CloneDB leverages a combination of Direct NFS (or dNFS) feature of the database, RMAN image copies, sparse files, and copy-on-write technology to create thin clones of databases from existing backups in a matter of minutes. It essentially has all the traits that we want to present to our customers via the snap clone feature. For more information on cloneDB, i highly recommend reading the following sources:
    The advantages of the new CloneDB integration with EM12c Snap Clone are:
    • Space and time savings 
    • Ease of setup - no additional software is required other than the Oracle database binary
    • Works on all platforms
    • Reduce the dependence on storage administrators
    • Cloning process fully orchestrated by EM12c, and delivered to developers/DBAs/QA Testers via the self service portal
    • Uses dNFS to delivers better performance, availability, and scalability over kernel NFS
    • Complete lifecycle of the clones managed by EM12c - performance, configuration, etc

      3. Improved Rapid Start Kits
      DBaaS deployments tend to be complex and its setup requires a series of steps. These steps are typically performed across different users and different UIs. The Rapid Start Kit provides a single command solution to setup Database as a Service (DBaaS) and Pluggable Database as a Service (PDBaaS). One command creates all the Cloud artifacts like Roles, Administrators, Credentials, Database Profiles, PaaS Infrastructure Zone, Database Pools and Service Templates. Once the Rapid Start Kit has been successfully executed, requests can be made to provision databases and PDBs from the self service portal. Rapid start kit can create complex topologies involving multiple zones, pools and service templates. It also supports standby databases and use of RMAN image backups. 
      The Rapid Start Kit in reality is a simple emcli script which takes a bunch of xml files as input and executes the complete automation in a matter of seconds. On a full rack Exadata, it took only 40 seconds to setup PDBaaS end-to-end. This kit works for both Oracle's engineered systems like Exadata, SuperCluster, etc and also on commodity hardware. One can draw parallel to the Exadata One Command script, which again takes a bunch of inputs from the administrators and then runs a simple script that configures everything from network to provisioning the DB software.
      Steps to use the kit: 
      • The kit can be found under the SSA plug-in directory on the OMS:EM_BASE/oracle/MW/plugins/oracle.sysman.ssa.oms.plugin_12.1.0.8.0/dbaas/setup 
      • It can be run from this default location or from any server which has emcli client installed
      • For most scenarios, you would use the script dbaas/setup/database_cloud_setup.py 
      • For Exadata, special integration is provided to reduce the number of inputs even further. The script to use for this scenario would be dbaas/setup/exadata_cloud_setup.py
      • The database_cloud_setup.py script takes two inputs:
        • Cloud boundary xml: This file defines the cloud topology in terms of the zones and pools along with host names, oracle home locations or container database names that would be used as infrastructure for provisioning database services. This file is optional in case of Exadata, as the boundary is well know via the Exadata system target available in EM.
        • Input xml: This file captures inputs for users, roles, profiles, service templates, etc. Essentially, all inputs required to define the DB services and other settings of the self service portal.
      • Once all the xml files have been prepared, invoke the script as follows for PDBaaS:
        emcli @database_cloud_setup.py -pdbaas 
              -cloud_boundary=/tmp/my_boundary.xml 
              -cloud_input=/tmp/pdb_inputs.xml
               The script will prompt for passwords a few times for key users like sysman, cloud admin, SSA admin, etc. Once complete, you can simply log into EM as the self service user and request for databases from the portal.
      More information available in the Rapid Start Kit chapter in Cloud Administration Guide

      4. Extensible Metering and Chargeback
       Last but not the least, Metering and Chargeback in release 4 has been made extensible in all possible regards. The new extensibility features allow customer, partners, system integrators, etc to :
      • Extend chargeback to any target type managed in EM
      • Promote any metric in EM as a chargeback entity
      • Extend list of charge items via metric or configuration extensions
      • Model abstract entities like no. of backup requests, job executions, support requests, etc
       A slew of emcli verbs have also been added that allows administrators to create, edit, delete, import/export charge plans, and assign cost centers all via the command line.
      More information available in the Chargeback API chapter in Cloud Administration Guide.

      5. Miscellaneous Enhancements
      There are other miscellaneous, yet important, enhancements that are worth a mention. These mostly have been asked by customers like you. These are:
      • Custom naming of DB Services
        • Self service users can provide custom names for DB SID, DB service, schemas, and tablespaces
        • Every custom name is validated for uniqueness in EM
      • 'Create like' of Service Templates
        • Now creating variants of a service template is only a click away. This would be vital when you publish service templates to represent different database sizes or service levels.
      • Profile viewer
        • View the details of a profile like datafile, control files, snapshot ids, export/import files, etc prior to its selection in the service template
      • Cleanup automation - for failed and successful requests
        • Single emcli command to cleanup all remnant artifacts of a failed request
        • Cleanup can be performed on a per request bases or by the entire pool
        • As an extension, you can also delete successful requests
      • Improved delete user workflow
        • Allows administrators to reassign cloud resources to another user or delete all of them
      • Support for multiple tablespaces for schema as a service
        • In addition to multiple schemas, user can also specify multiple tablespaces per request
      I hope this was a good introduction to the new Database as a Service enhancements in EM12c R4. I encourage you to explore many of these new and existing features and give us feedback.
      Good luck!
      References:
      -- Adeesh Fulay (@adeeshf)

      Thursday, June 5, 2014

      Two of my EM Articles in top OTN list

      Thanks to all my Readers. Ttwo of my OTN articles on using Enterprise Manager 12c for RMAN Backups and Data Guard Standbys are in the top 10 OTN list:

      https://blogs.oracle.com/archbeat/entry/top_10_architect_community_articles
      Regards,

      Porus.

      Wednesday, June 4, 2014

      List of Great New Features in EM12c Release 4

      Friends,

      This is a list of the many great new features in EM12c Release 4, from the official Oracle technical documentation. Check out the BI Publisher Integration, and the new Cloud Management features, such as being able to create Data Guard Standby databases via self-service:

      ·        Framework and Infrastructure
      ·        Services Management
      ·        Enterprise Monitoring and Incident Management Features
      ·        Fusion Application Management Features
      ·        Database Management Features
      ·        Middleware Management Features
      ·        Exadata Features
      ·        Cloud Management Features
      ·        Lifecycle Management

      Regards,

      Porus.

      Oracle Delivers Latest Release of Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c


      Richer Service Catalog for Database and Middleware as a Service; Enhanced Database and Middleware Management Help Drive Enterprise-Scale Private Cloud Adoption
      News Summary
      IT organizations are adopting private clouds as a stepping-stone to business-driven, self-service IT. Successful implementations hinge on the ability to efficiently deploy and manage cloud services at enterprise scale. Having a complete cloud management solution integrated with an enterprise-class technology stack is a fundamental requirement for IT. Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c Release 4 meets that requirement by helping businesses become more agile and responsive, while reducing cost, complexity, and risk.
      News Facts
      • Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c Release 4, available today, lets organizations rapidly adopt Oracle-based, enterprise-scale private clouds.
      • New capabilities provide advanced technology stack management, secure database administration, and enterprise service governance, enabling Oracle customers and partners to maximize database and application performance and drive innovation using self-service IT platforms.
      • The enhancements have been driven by customers and the growing Oracle Enterprise Manager Ecosystem, comprised of more than 750 Oracle PartnerNetwork (OPN) Specialized partners. Oracle and its partners and customers have built over 140 plug-ins and connectors for Oracle Enterprise Manager.
      • Watch the video highlights.
      Automation for Broader Cloud Services
      • Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c Release 4 allows for a rapid enterprise-wide adoption of database, middleware and infrastructure services in the private cloud, driven by an enhanced API-enabled service catalog.
      • The release features “push button” style provisioning of complete environments such as SOA and Oracle Active Data Guard, and fast data cloning that enables rapid deployment and testing of enterprise applications.
      • Out-of-the-box capabilities to detect data and configuration vulnerabilities provide enhanced cloud service governance along with greater operational control through a flexible and extensible showback mechanism.
      Enhanced Database Management
      • A new performance warehouse enables predictive database diagnostics and trend analysis and helps identify database problems before they occur.
      • New enterprise data-governance capabilities enhance security by helping systematically discover and protect sensitive data.
      • Step-by-step orchestration of upgrades with the ability to rollback changes enables faster adoption of Oracle Database 12c.
      Expanded Fusion Middleware Management
      • A new consolidated view of Oracle Fusion Middleware 12c deployments with a guided management capability lets administrators apply best management practices to diverse middleware environments and identify performance issues quickly.
      • A Java VM Diagnostics as a Service feature allows governed access to diagnostics data for IT workers across multiple disciplines for accelerated DevOps resolutions of defects and performance optimization.
      • New automated provisioning for SOA lets middleware administrators perform mass SOA provisioning with ease.
      Superior Enterprise-Grade Management
      • Private roles and preferred credentials have been added to Oracle Enterprise Manager to provide additional fine-grained security for organizations with complex access control requirements.
      • A new security console provides a single point of control for managing the security of Oracle Enterprise Manager environments.
      • Support for the latest industry standard SNMP v3 protocol, including encryption, enables more secure heterogeneous management.
      • “Smart monitoring” adapts to observed environmental changes and adds self-management capabilities to help Oracle Enterprise Manager run at peak performance, while demanding less IT supervision.
      Supporting Quotes
      • “Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has a strong tradition of technology breakthroughs and leadership. As a member of Oracle’s Customer Advisory Board for Oracle Enterprise Manager, we have consistently provided feedback and guidance in the areas of enterprise-scale cloud, self-diagnosability, and secure administration for the product,” said Tim Frazier, CIO, NIF and Photon Sciences, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. “We intend to take advantage of the Release 4 features that support enterprise-scale availability and fine-grained security capabilities for private cloud deployments.”
      • “IDC's most recent CloudTrack survey shows that most enterprises plan to adopt hybrid cloud architectures over the next three years,” said Mary Johnston Turner, Research Vice President, Enterprise System Management Software, IDC. “These organizations plan to deploy a wide range of workloads into cloud environments including mission critical database and middleware services that require high levels of fault tolerance and disaster recovery. Such capabilities were traditionally custom configured for each application but cloud offers the possibility to incorporate such properties within the service definition, enabling organizations to adopt cloud without compromise. With the latest release of Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c, Oracle is providing customers with an out-of-the-box experience for delivering highly-resilient cloud services for databases and applications.”
      • “Since its inception, Oracle has been leading the way in innovative, scalable and high performance solutions for the enterprise. With this release of Oracle Enterprise Manager, we are extending this leadership by providing enterprise-scale capabilities for planning, delivering, and managing private clouds. We call this ‘zero-to-cloud – accelerated.’ These enhancements help our customers to expedite their adoption of cloud computing and prepares them for the next generation of self-service IT,” said Prakash Ramamurthy, senior vice president of Systems and Cloud Management at Oracle.
      Supporting Resources

      Disclaimer

      Opinions expressed in this blog are entirely the opinions of the writers of this blog, and do not reflect the position of Oracle corporation. No responsiblity will be taken for any resulting effects if any of the instructions or notes in the blog are followed. It is at the reader's own risk and liability.