Monday, March 16, 2009

Oracle Enterprise Manager 10gR5 Platform Enhancements

In my last post, I gave an overview on our new release of Enterprise Manager Grid Control 10gR5. Starting with this article, I am going to cover each area of improvement in more detail. The first topic to discuss is platform enhancements, as aside from Weblogic support, these are the most important changes we made in 10gR5. Platform improvements are important because they benefit everybody. Most of the Enterprise Manager management packs and plug-in's are built on a common platform. This approach allows Oracle to achieve economy of scale when it comes to creating management tools for various technologies, and it provides simplicity and efficiency to our customers as a common platform makes it easier to deploy various tools and reduces training needs.

Here are the key improvements.

Default Monitoring Templates – Monitoring Templates help Enterprise Manager deliver its “grid management” vision of managing a “grid” of objects as a single entity. Specifically, templates can be used to specify common thresholds in order to simplify monitoring setups. Before 10gR5, one could define monitoring templates, but these templates have to be manually applied to new targets that are added to Enterprise Manager. In 10gR5, this step is automated through a default option in monitoring template. If you mark a template as the default for a given target type, then the template would be automatically applied every time you add a new target of this type to Enterprise Manager. In addition, a new out-of-box report and reporting elements make it easier to review template application history.

Improved Alert State Management – Prior to 10gR5, once an alert is raised when a metric threshold is crossed, the alert would stay in Enterprise Manager until the next scheduled evaluation of the metric. This was not very convenient, as administrators want to get more timely feedback on the corrective actions that they take, and have the alert state be cleared as soon as possible. Starting with 10gR5, administrators can force a metric re-evaluation to be carried out immediately in order to verify the effectiveness of the fix. In addition, administrators can better manage their log file based alerts by setting duration based notification rules that clear such alerts on a periodic basis, or by using new EMCLI verbs that support bulk clearing of such alerts.

Repeated Notification – Repeat notifications are now supported for all notification methods – OS Command, PL/SQL procedures and SNMP traps.

Customized Notification Messages – EM 10gR5 provides more flexibility in the way that administrators can customize the format of email notifications. The content of the notification can be customized to include selected target properties and other information that provides more context about the alerts. Considering the multitude of devices that people use to receive notifications and the varying limitations of these devices, having this flexibility to customize the messages should be quite useful.

EM Backup / Recovery via EMCLI – New verbs are added to emcli so that backup and recovery operations for Enterprise Manager components can now be performed via the command line. These operations include the ability to resynchronize the repository, export and import OMS configurations, and resynchronize an agent based on information in the repository. Besides the fact that many power users like to use command line tools, having this command line support enable automation of these operations via scripting.

Management Pack License Bulk Updates – Bulk activation and deactivation of management pack license can now be performed in either the Enterprise Manager console or via emcli. We probably should have added this feature long time ago. After you pay for the packs, the least that we could do is to make it easier for you to start using them. Well, better late then never. :)

Automatic Enterprise Agent Software Download – Grid Control has provided several means to automate the process of deploying agents in the past, but one task has been manual – getting the agent software package from Oracle in the first place! We have automated this step too in 10gR5. Just go to the agent page and pick out what you want and the tool will take care of getting it from My Oracle Support. Yes, this is another long overdue item.

Privilege Propagating Group – Group is one of the most useful platform features of Enterprise Manager. It lets you arrange a set of related targets together so that they can be monitored together more easily. Privilege Propagating Group extends this concept further by simplifying the allocation of access privilege to the set of targets under a group. Once you grant an access privilege to a Privilege Propagating Group, all member targets of that group inherits the same access privilege.

Additional Access Privileges – New fine-grained target privileges to support principle of least privilege are provided: Blackout Target, Manage Target Metrics, Configure Target and Manage Target Alerts. In addition, the Enterprise Manager user interface is enhanced to make it easier to manage Privilege Delegation settings. Privilege Delegation can be set for User Defined Metrics, Corrective Actions and Database Replay features. Lastly, corrective actions that a user defined may be shared with other users by granting them the proper access privileges.

Third Party Security Certificates – EM 10gR5 supports the use of third party security certificates to set up secured communications between the Enterprise Manager's server, agent, and the web browser client.

Enhanced Auditing – EM 10gR5 lets you track Enterprise Manager operations more easily. As Enterprise Manager becomes the tool to manage applications, middleware infrastructure and databases centrally, it is important to be able to trace these operations. Enhanced auditing capabilities include enriched audit records, audit data search, built-in externalization service to externalize audit data into external store, and compatibility with Oracle Diagnostic Logging (ODL) format to allow integration with Oracle Audit Vault.

Simplified User Defined Policy Interface – Configuration Policy is a very powerful feature in Grid Control to help IT proactive about avoiding configuration related problems. Prior to 10gR5, it was very difficult to create custom policies. This problem is solved in 10gR5 with a wizard driven interface to create User Defined Policies, allowing you to mitigate system vulnerabilities by defining and implementing configuration policies specific to their operational best practices, governance and industry standard requirements. The new interface allows you to create, edit, test, delete, export and import user defined policies.

User Defined Policy Group – In addition to be User Defined Policies, you may also defined User Defined Policy Groups to group together user defined and Oracle-provided policies. Once these policy groups are created, they can be evaluated just like other policy groups.

There you have it. These are the key platform enhancements for Enterprise Manager 10gR5, which are applicable whether you are managing your packaged Oracle applications using our Application Management Packs, your middleware infrastructure using our Middleware Management Packs, your Oracle Database using our Oracle Database Management Packs, or 3rd party technologies using our System Monitoring Plug-in's. There is something for everyone!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Oracle Enterprise Manager 10gR5 is Here!

Oracle Enterprise Manager Grid Control 10gR5 is finally here! I hope you all enjoyed the launch webcast this morning. If you missed it, here is the link to the recording.

As I mentioned in my post last week, this release is chock-full of goodies that we believe will please everyone from application administrators to DBAs to CIOs and even the business sponsors of your applications. So what are those goodies? Here are some of the most important enhancements.

For Application Administrators

This release takes Enterprise Manager Grid Control's top-down application management capabilities to the next level. Of all the new and improved features, probably the most significant is our expanded support for the Oracle Weblogic Server. Weblogic support is important because this component serves as the foundation of many Oracle products. Weblogic not only forms the basis of Oracle Fusion Middleware, which is the foundation for upcoming Oracle Fusion Applications, but it is also a key technology used to modernize the various packaged Oracle applications. In other words, improved support for Weblogic management benefits not only administrators of custom Java applications, but also administrators of packaged Oracle applications. For example, the latest Siebel CRM 8.1.1 release incorporates Oracle Application Development Framework into its software stack to enable the latest generation of customer self service applications. As Oracle evolves the current packaged applications using Java EE technologies, it is important that the tools for managing these applications are evolved with them.

One thing to keep in mind is that Enterprise Manager's support for Weblogic is not a completely new thing. In fact, Enterprise Manager began supporting Weblogic monitoring in 2006, two years before Oracle acquired BEA. The support was part of Enterprise Manager's heterogeneous management capabilities, which also include support for monitoring Websphere, JBoss and .NET. In 10gR5, Weblogic support was strengthened to include the ability to:
- monitor the performance of top Enterprise JavaBeans (EJBs) & JSP’s in deployed applications;
- discover and monitor web services deployed to WebLogic Server
- monitor server resources (e.g. data sources, JMS servers, resource adapters, JOLT connection pools)
- view, compare and track more configuration items such as JVM vendor/version, additional tuning parameters, cluster configuration, JMS resources, virtual hosts, JOLT connection pools, and configuration files

For packaged applications, Application Management Pack for Siebel was refreshed to add official support for Siebel 8.1.1, the brand new version of Siebel CRM that Oracle released recently. In the old days, it was always a challenge to get third party management vendors to support new Siebel releases in a timely manner. As the old saying goes – if you want to get something done right, you have to do it yourself. Now that we build our own management tools, we can ensure that our new application releases are covered. In addition to 8.1.1 support, this new release of the Siebel Pack also include Workflow Process Monitoring, Workflow Policy Monitoring, Event Log Analysis, improved Discovery and Application Service Monitoring.

In addition to the updated Siebel Pack, we released new application accelerators for Oracle Real User Experience Insight (RUEI). RUEI helps IT monitor actual end user experience, answering important questions such as: Who logged onto the applications? What did the users do? What response time did they get and what sort of errors did they run into? Following the approach that we started with our application management packs to provide tools engineered for specific packaged Oracle applications, our two accelerators – one for Oracle E-Business S uite and one for Siebel CRM, provide out of the box management capabilities for these Oracle applications so that the time to get the tool up and running is reduced.

These three packaged application management improvements are just the first wave of enhanced support for Oracle applications that we are introducing for 2009. Stay tuned for more to come.

In addition to better Weblogic Server support and improved management for Siebel and Oracle E-Business Suite, 10gR5 also contains support for Oracle Coherence application grid technology, improved support Oracle Service Bus, BPEL Process Monitoring, Java Application Diagnostics, Composite Application Modeling and Monitoring and Application Configuration Management. There is way too much information to cover in one post, so check out this document for an overview, and come back to this blog for more indepth discussions later on.

For DBAs

Oracle Enterprise Manager started out as a database management tool, and this 10gR5 release should please DBAs who are looking for further improvements to an already impressive package. This release provides support for Oracle Database 11gR1, enabling multiple database servers to be managed centrally. You may wonder – how could 10g Enterprise Manager Grid Control manage 11g Oracle Database? The answer is even though the two products carry similar versioning schemes, Oracle Enterprise Manager Grid Control and Oracle Database are on different release schedules. Therefore, there is nothing unusual about using Enterprise Manager 10g to manage an 11g Oracle Database.

Some of the key enhancements for Oracle Database Management includes:
- support for 11g database features such as ADDM for RAC, real-time SQL monitoring, partition advisor and automatic SQL tuning;
- database replay – an automatic way to capture product workload, copying it to a test system, setting up the software and the test database to reflect the state of the source system at time of capture, deploying replay clients, orchestrating the replay process, and analyzing the replay results;
- database change propagation – synchronize data dictionary to propagate schema changes from a dictionary baseline or a database to a target database;
- some of these capabilities actually existed in the 9i version of Enterprise Manager and have brought it back with full integration within Grid Control;
- customizable tile based views to monitor waits and other metrics across multiple RAC nodes in a cluster;
- improved performance workflows for cluster cache coherency, historic views, and drilldown;
- service-centric monitoring facilitates the monitoring of workflows and drilldowns for RAC services;
- a new HA Console to monitor overall HA configuration status and initiate operations;
- a Maximum Availability Architecture Configuration Advisor page allows you to evaluate the configuration and identify solutions for protection from computer, site, storage, human and data corruption failures, enabling workflows to implement Oracle Recommended solutions;
- automatic configuring of Oracle-recommended Maximum Availability Architecture (MAA) for databases with minimum downtime;
- you can now migrate database to ASM, and convert single instance database to RAC all with minimum downtime using standby technology to minimize downtime;
- a Streams dashboard, along with improved monitoring of streams configurations, allows you to monitor streams components as well as end-to-end paths for Latency and Throughput metrics.

These enhancements help DBAs plan their database changes better by leveraging production workload in order to analyze the potential impact of database changes, make changes more easily by automating the migration of changes, and ensure the database is more robust by implementing leading database maximum availability practices prescribed by Oracle's Maximum Availability Architecture guidelines.

For CIOs

For a long time, IT decision makers have had to make important IT decisions on less than perfect information. Worst yet, the information available often did not represent the reality faced by IT's customers – the lines of business. It puts IT at a rather disadvantaged position. With Real User Experience Insight and Enterprise Manager's Service Level Management capabilities, CIO can get much better information to demonstrate the value that IT delivers, and to ask for the needed resources using factual information to back up the requests.

Equally important, the expanding capabilities of Oracle Enterprise Manager Grid Control mean that many important IT assets can now be managed better and with fewer resources. IT is always shorthanded, so freeing up resources mean that the CIO now has the flexibility to invest on new projects that his/her counterparts in line of business have been asking for in order to drive the organization forward.

Enterprise Manager's expanding footprint also means that IT departments can move forward with their goals of simplifying their vendor management by consolidating their spending with fewer vendors. Gone are the days when organizations have to go to different vendors to get applications, middleware, development tools, databases, O/S and enterprise management systems.

For Applications' Business Sponsors

While not direct users of Oracle Enterprise Managers, the line of business sponsors of the applications also benefit from all these improvements. For example, Real User Experience Insight (RUEI) can be used by not only IT administrators, but also business analysts to perform click stream analysis in order to understand consumer behaviors on eCommerce and self-service applications, where increasingly amount of business activities are carried out. When the data collected from RUEI is combined with those captured from the business applications and analyzed using tools such as Oracle Business Intelligence, businesses can get unprecedented clarity on business activities. Traditionally, data captured from business applications such as Siebel E-Commerce show the business activities that actually took place – the service requests that are filed or the orders that are placed. They don't tell why transactions did not happen as users abort their shopping activities. Data from RUEI tells the other side of the picture. Since Oracle develop business applications, enterprise management tools, and business intelligence technologies, we are in the best position to help business leaders put all these information together to achieve insights.

I hope that you find these capabilities appetizing. But there's more. Check out the complete list of improvements in the first chapter of Oracle Enterprise Manager Concepts Guide, and come back to this blog as I cover the features in more details in the coming weeks.