Tuesday Dec 31, 2013

Database Lifecycle Management for Cloud Service Providers

Adopting the Cloud Computing paradigm enables service providers to maximize revenues while driving capital costs down through greater efficiencies of working capital and OPEX changes. In case of enterprise private cloud, corporate IT, which plays the role of the provider, may not be interested in revenues, but still care about providing differentiated service at lower cost. The efficiency and cost eventually makes the service profitable and sustainable. This basic tenet has to be satisfied irrespective of the type of service-infrastructure (IaaS), platform (PaaS) or software application (SaaS). In this blog, we specifically focus on the database layer and how its lifecycle gets managed by the Service Providers.

Any service provider needs to ensure that:

  • Hardware and software population are in control. As new consumers come in and some consumers retire, there is a constant flux of resources in the data center. The flux has to be managed and controlled
  • The platform for providing the service is standardized, so that operations can be conducted predictable and at scale across a pool of resources
  • Mundane and repeatable tasks like backup, patching, etc are automated
  • Customer attrition does not happen owing to heightened compliance risk

While the Database Lifecycle Management features of Enterprise Manager have been widely adopted, I feel that the applicability of the features with respect to service providers is yet well understood and hence appreciated. In this blog, let me try addressing how the lifecycle management features can be effective in addressing each of the above requirements.

1. Controlling hardware and software population:

Enterprise Manager 12c provides a near real-time view of the assets in a data center. It comes with out-of-box inventory reports that show the current population and the growth trend within the data center. The inventory can be further sliced and diced based on cost center, owner, etc. In a cloud, whether private or public, the target properties of each asset can be appropriately populated, so that the provider can easily figure out the distribution of assets. For example, how many databases are owned by Marketing LOB can be easily answered. The flux within the data center is usually higher when virtualization techniques such as server virtualization and Oracle 12c multitenant option are used. These technologies make the provisioning process extremely nimble, potentially leading to a higher number of virtual machines (VMs) or pluggable databases (PDBs) within the data center and hence accentuating the need for such ongoing reporting. The inventory reports can be also created using BI Publisher and delivered to non-EM users, such as a CIO.


Now, not all reports can always be readily available. There can be situations where a data center manager can seek adhoc information, such as, how many databases owned by a particular customer is running on Exadata. This involves an adhoc query based upon an association, viz. database running on Exadata and target properties, viz. owner being the customer. Enterprise Manager 12c provides a sophisticated Configuration Search feature that lets administrators define such adhoc queries and save them for reuse.

2. Standardization of platform:

The massive standardization of platform components is not merely a nice-to-have for a cloud service provider, it is rather a must-have. A provider may choose to offer various levels of services, tagged with levels such as gold, silver and bronze. However, for each such level, the platform components need to be standardized, not only for ease of manageability but also for ensuring consistency of QOS across all the tenants. So how can the platform be standardized? We can highlight two major Enterprise Manager 12c features here:

The ability to rollout gold images that can be version controlled within Enterprise Manager's Software Library. The inputs of the provisioning process can be "locked down" by the designer of the provisioning process, thereby ensuring that each deployment is a replica of the other.

The ability to compare the configuration of deployments (often referred to as the "Points of Delivery" of the services). This is a very powerful feature that supports 1-n comparisons across multiple tiers of the stack. For example, one can compare an entire database machine from storage cells, compute nodes to databases with one or more of those.

3. Automation of repeatable tasks:

A large portion of OPEX for a service provider is expended while executing mundane and repeatable tasks like backup, log file cleanup or patching. Enterprise Manager 12c comes with an automation framework comprising Jobs and Deployment Procedures that lets administrators define these repetitive actions and schedule them as needed. EMCC’s task automation framework is scalable, carries functions such as ability to schedule, resume, retry which are of paramount importance in conducting mass operations in an enterprise scale cloud. The task automation verbs are also exposed through the EMCLI interface. Oracle Cloud administrators make extensive use of EMCLI for large scale operations on thousands of tenant services.

One of the most popular features of Enterprise Manager 12c is the out-of-box procedures for patch automation. The patching procedures can patch the Linux operating system, clusterware and the database. For minimizing the downtime involved in the patching process Enterprise Manager 12c also supports out-of-place patching that can prepare the patched software ahead of time and migrate the instances one by one as needed. This technique is widely adopted by the service providers to make sure the tenants' downtime related SLAs are respected and adhered to. The co-ordination of such downtime can be instrumented by Enterprise Manager 12c's blackout functionality.

4. Managing Compliance risks:

In a service driven model, the provider is liable in case of security breaches. The consumer and in turn, the customer of the consumer's apps need to be assured that their data is not breached into owing to platform level vulnerabilities. The security breaches often happen owing to faulty configuration such as default passwords, relaxed file permissions, or an open network port. The hardening of the platform therefore, has to be done at all levels-OS, network, database, etc. The security breaches often happen owing to faulty configuration such as default passwords, relaxed file permissions, or an open port. . To manage compliance, administrators can create baselines referred to as Compliance Standard. Any deviations from the baselines triggers compliance violation notifications, alerting administrators to resolve the issue before it creates risk in the environment.

We can therefore see how four major asks from a service provider can be satisfied with the Lifecycle Management features of Enterprise Manager 12c. As substantiated through several third party studies and customer testimonials, these result in higher efficiency with lower OPEX.

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Monday Dec 09, 2013

Using EM CLI for mass update of Lifecycle Status Property Value

I co-presented at Oracle Open World in September, Manage Beyond Limits: Enterprise Manager CLI and Other Extensibility Features. I focused on the enhancements to Enterprise Manager Command Line Interface, EM CLI. I enthused about the two new modes, Interactive and Script mode and how they compare to the standard mode of previous releases, from the SQL*Plus like environment of Interactive mode to the scalable, JSON formatted output of script mode. I highlighted the ease of use and the scalable power of EM CLI.

After my session a number of you asked me for a copy of the scripts that I demoed. This is one.

Why do we take on the extra task involved in learning something new? …because we know it will lead to personal growth, ultimately solve a problem or two, and maybe even look good on our resume. Learning Jython scripting will tick all of those boxes. Plus, it’s fun!

This script tries to solve the problem of mass updates to the Lifecycle Status property value. This is a new property introduced in Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c, and can be used to indicate the importance of a target, e.g. “Mission Critical", or to determine where a target is in its life cycle, e.g. “Stage”, “Test” or “Production”. Consider a new deployment of several hundred Oracle Databases, half of which are Mission Critical and the other half are in “Test”, but are about to go “Production”.

What is the best way to transition from “Test” to “Production”?

EM CLI in script mode!

EM CLI in script mode takes advantage of the Jython scripting language to use Enterprise Manager in a programmatic way, allowing task automation. The EM CLI Jython script below automates the setting of the Lifecycle Status Property Value, and uses standard programming constructs to make itterating through several Targets simpler, more robust and less error prone.

At a high level, every EM CLI Jython script can effectively be broken down into two parts:

Step 1: The setting and defining the necessary variables such as, which OMS URL to connect to, how secure you want your communication channel and which Administrator to log into the OMS.

Step 2: The calling or manipulation of EM CLI 12c procedures. Procedures were called verbs in previous releases, verb options are now procedure arguments in script and interactive mode.You can explore the on-line verb reference for more information.


Let’s break the script down further in to the major functional blocks of code.


Line 19: Sets the variable EMCLI_OMS_URL, which determines which OMS URL we shall connect too.

Line 21: Sets the variable EMCLI_TRUSTALL, which determines the level of security associated with the communication channel between the EM CLI and the OMS. We are choosing the lowest level of security.

Both of these variables could also have been set as environment variables.


Line 26 – 40: Between the if – else loop, we are checking for arguments that are passed to the script. We are passing two arguments into this script. Following, is what it looks like when calling an EM CLI Jython script, with arguments, on the command line:

$>./emcli @oow_demo2.py OWUSER Production

Where:

@oow_demo2.py - is the name of our Jython Script.

OWUSER - is the username used to log into the OMS, the script will prompt for a password, to authenticate this user. The mode of authentication is the same as is configured for the Console. Authentication modes supported are Repository, SSO or LDAP.

Production - is the Lifecycle Status property Value we shall set.

Line 27: We log into the OMS.

Line 29: We search through all targets where the version, “DBVersion” is greater than or equal to 12.1. This is passed to an internal procedure defined in Line 10.


Line 11: We construct the SQL command, based on the arguments passed in, then use the EM CLI list() procedure to convert the returned output to an easily parse-able JSON formatted syntax (line 15) . We then return the Response Object, obj (line 16). The information returned are all the targets of the appropriate version.

Line 37: We then take the information and parse it, filtering further on oracle_database Target types. Finally we parse and print TARGET_NAME, TARGET_TYPE, PROPERTY_NAME and PROPERTY_VALUE for all databases which fit our criteria.

Line 39: We call the set_target_property_value() procedure which accepts a colon separated list of property records, in the form, TARGET_NAME:TARGET_TYPE:PROPERTY_NAME:PROPERTY_VALUE.

Please copy the code, save it with the *.py extension and change the EMCLI_OMS_URL value to the valid OMS URL for your environment.

Play around with it, and take your Jython scripting knowledge from Test to Production.

Tuesday Dec 03, 2013

Oracle Enterprise Manager Partner Plug-in News

Much is happening in the area of managing 3rd party solutions with plug-ins provided by a growing list of technology and solution partners. Heterogeneity in the data center is a fact of life.  With a plug-in for Enterprise Manager, a customer can leverage its existing investment in a non-Oracle solution and enable it to work better with Oracle technology and applications, all through Enterprise Manager extensibility.  Generally available 3rd party plug-ins are available for download via the Oracle Enterprise Manager Extensibility Exchange located at www.oracle.com/goto/emextensibility

Here are just a few recent news-bits:

Oracle MwaaS / DBaaS capabilities with VMware based infrastructures now supported

Blue Medora has released the latest revision of its flagship Oracle Enterprise Manager Cloud Control 12c (EM12c) plugin for VMware that adds VMware-base virtualization infrastructures for Oracle EM12c’s MwaaS and DBaaS capabilities. This latest release of the Blue Medora EM12c plugin for VMware extends Oracle EM12c by seamlessly making available your VMware-base virtualization infrastructure, along with all the benefits on running on VMware, into Oracle’s MwaaS / DBaaS capability. Check out this Blue Medora blog and Press Release for more details.

Enhanced features for NetApp’s Enterprise Manager 12c Plug-in allows customers to centrally manage data across private, public and hybrid clouds

With new updates to the NetApp Storage System Plug-in for Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c, customers can monitor NetApp storage based on clustered Data ONTAP in a private or public cloud environment from a single user interface. With the integration between NetApp FlexClone and Oracle Enterprise Manager’s Database as a Service solution, customers can setup, deploy, and retire databases on the fly with little effort and minimal overhead using a self-service model. Customers can also create Snapshot copies of their databases and restore them instantaneously from the self-service portal. Learn more about the updated plug-in at the NetApp company news site.

Dell demonstrates its integration with Oracle Enterprise Manager so customers can manage the full infrastructure from one management console

In addition to the official Dell Press Release which describes the plug-in for Dell OpenManage, check out Enterprise Manager being cited in Michael Dell's Oracle OpenWorld 2013 key note (time stamp at 35:15) as well as the this YouTube demo.

On heals of VMAX Plug-In, EMC rolls out VNX Plug-in for Enterprise Manager

EMC’s VNX Plug-in was released a few weeks ago, and is available for download at the EMC Community site located here (requires free community account to access). The VMAX Plug-in, which was released this last Summer, also appears to have gained quite a bit of traction. You can check out this demo of the VMAX plug-in.  Also, Joe Tucci, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, EMC presented it at OOW 2013 EMC keynote (time stamp 23:00).

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