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!

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