Friday Mar 08, 2013

Schema as a Service for Extreme Consolidation

As we deal with Database as a Service use cases, we often find that consumers do not need dedicated databases of their own. Developers of a home-grown application, for example, might be satisfied with a logical slice of the database. This logical slice, leads us to the concept of Schema as a Service—a new capability offered in the latest release of Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c Release 2 Plug-in Update 1.

Schema as a service is the ultimate and extreme in consolidating multiple schemas in a shared database model. Cloud users can request one or more schemas, with or without seed data, from Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c’s out-of-the-box self service portal. It offers excellent manageability, not only for its fast efficient provisioning, but because administrators only need to manage a small number of databases.


Schema as a Service: Consolidate Multiple Schemas in a Shared Database Cloud Services Model

However, consolidation comes at the expense of isolation, because the operating system and database are not isolated among the database consumers. While enabling Schema as a Service, it’s important to isolate the workloads as much as possible to make sure that one user doesn't run away with all the database resources. Administrators can guarantee this does not happen by using Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c’s CPU monitoring capabilities built in to Oracle Database Resource Manager to maintain service levels.

For security, the more consolidated you get, the more concerns administrators have about data isolation and security. Using Oracle Data Vault can help resolve these issues. It is integrated with Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c, and administrators can use Oracle Data Vault to enable fine grain control based on roles and privileges within the database cloud service.

For reporting purposes, metering and chargeback capabilities can be implemented to help IT organizations gain in-depth visibility into resource consumption and expenses incurred with each schema as a service deployment. This is useful for regulatory compliance requirements as well.

Schema as a Service at a Glance:

  • Consolidate multiple application schemas in a shared database deployment model
  • Each application user (i.e. developers or testers) can provision one or more database schema(s) with a dedicated database cloud service
  • Automated placement can be based on workload characteristics and specifications
  • Service levels are guaranteed through Oracle Database Resource Manager
  • Service governance is done through quotas, retirement policies and chargeback plans
  • Integrated with Oracle Data Vault for security isolation and control
  • De-provision schemas when needs change

Benefits:

  • Save resources through ultimate consolidation of multiple database applications
  • Boost administrator productivity and increase efficiency with automated provisioning
  • Deploy schema as a service implementations consistently using self-service profiles and templates
  • Metering and chargeback helps keep track of resource consumption and usage for accountability and reporting
  • Minimize administrative overhead and compliance challenges by preventing database sprawl

How To:
There are several steps involved when setting up and deploying database schema as a service in Oracle Enterprise Manager’s self service portal. Here is a quick summary of what’s involved. For more details be sure to review the resources below.

1. Setting up Platform as a Service Zones

  • Before deploying your schema as a service, you first need to create a Platform as a Service (PaaS) infrastructure using Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c’s self-service portal. A PaaS Zone comprises multiple hosts, i.e. servers with Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c agent installed.
  • Use the portal to create a PaaS zone and organize it by function type (i.e. based on geography, line of business (sales, development) or application lifecycle. (i.e. dev, test, QA, production)
  • Next expose the PaaS zone to the self-service cloud users in the portal. For example, developers can now have the option to select a development PaaS zone or testers can select a QA zone.
  • Visibility of each zone can be restricted based on the self-service user's credentials.

2. Setting up Database Pools

  • Database pools are a collects of databases used to host schema as a service.
  • To create a new database pool, you can use a portion of resources that are available to the zone. Keep in mind that all members of the database pool need to be the same target type. For example, a single database instance or database cluster; platform, or same database version. This ensures provisioning consistency during deployment.
  • Next configure placement constraints and policies for the database pool. For placing databases within the pool and controlling how resources are utilization, you need to first create a placement constraint and set its policies. This provides protection for the database members within the pool for resource consumption. For example, a production database pool might enforce more conservative constraints whereas a development pool might allow liberal limits.
  • You can set a constraint for each database in the pool by services or by workload associated with the service request based on CPU and memory. You can also enable Oracle Database Resource Manager for the database pool to control your CPU usage and the underlying service levels.

3. Request Settings

  • During this part of the schema as a service set up, future reservations, archive retention and duration of request can all be enabled.

4. Quotas

  • Controlling quotas and setting limits for users based on role level can be assigned in this step of the process. Oracle Enterprise Manager supports quota based on CPU, memory and number of database services.

5. Profiles and Service Templates

  • A service template is standardized definition that is offered to self-service users to create a database or schemas within the deployment. A service template defines the workload characteristics and schema details that can be generated with or without seed data.
  • To create a service template with seed data, you need to create a profile. A profile is an entity that captures source database information for provisioning purposes. Once you create your service template it becomes part of a collection which makes up the service catalog. This catalog is then exposed to cloud users in the self-service portal.
  • Next, you can either export the seed data from the source database or export the schema definitions without the data. Once you decide, a Data Pump Export job will be created.
  • You can now map your newly created profile and service templates to the required zone(s) and database pools.

6. Chargeback

  • The final step in deploying schema as a service is to configure resource metering and chargeback.
  • Setting up metering and chargeback can easily be done in order to track resource usage within the schema as a service implementation.
  • For more information on how to set up chargeback we recommend reading this white paper.

LEARN MORE:

Product Info:
  • Oracle Cloud Management
  • Zero to Cloud Resource Center
  • Demos:
  • Oracle Cloud Management
  • Setting up Database Clouds for Schema as a Service
  • Whitepapers:
  • Delivering Database as a Service using Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c
  • Best Practices for Database Consolidation in Private Clouds
  • Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c: Metering and Chargeback
  • Cloud Management for Oracle Database

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    Tuesday Mar 05, 2013

    Webcast: New Cloud Management Plug-Ins Provide Enhanced Capabilities for Deploying and Managing Clouds


    Thursday March 7
    10:00 a.m. PST / 1:00 p.m. EST

    Join us for this presentation to learn about Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c's recent release of new and updated Management Plug-ins that provide optimum utilization of compute resources, ultimately leading to faster time-to-market for IT services delivery. In addition to providing enhanced cloud management support, the Plug-ins extend Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c's capabilities for Database as a Service (DBaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (Iaas), as well as introduce new features for Testing as a Service (TaaS).

    Register Now!

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    Friday Feb 15, 2013

    Oracle Enterprise Manager Cloud Control 12c Release 2 Plug-in Update 1 (12.1.0.2)

    This year 2013 valentines day, we announced the GA of several brand new Plug-ins versions for Enterprise Manger Cloud Control 12c.

    We also released Oracle Enterprise Manager Cloud Control 12c Release 2 Plug-in Update 1 (12.1.0.2) for multiple platforms. Release 2 Plug-in Update 1, contains the original bits of 12c EM Cloud Control Release 2 (that was originally released in Oct 2012), packaged with the latest versions of several Plug-ins (including some brand new plugins).

    Following shows the list of new plug-ins versions available along the Oracle Enterprise Manager Cloud Control 12c Release 2 Plug-in Update 1 (12.1.0.2). The new plug-ins have dependency on 12.1.0.2, and customer needs to be on minimum 12.1.0.2 version of the product before deploying new plug-in versions. The new plug-ins include tons of new features, support for new managed targets, along with stability and performance bug fixes.

    ListPlugins

    The brand new version of DB plugin ( DB 12.1.0.3), comes packed with stability and brand new features of diagnosability, High Availability, Manageability, RAC and Grid Infrastructure, Security etc. Above plug-in list includes Enterprise manager Storage Management Framework, a brand new plug-in that enables Snap Clone functionality by leveraging the snapshot and Copy on write features of underlying Storage. The new plug ins are packed with features like Testing as a service, Snap Clone, Schema as a service, RMAN based Data Prov just to name a few.

    Note: The "Oracle Big Data Appliance" & "Oracle Engineered System Healthcheck" Plug-ins were released sometime back (and have been available to EM customers on Self Update).


    Installation/Upgrade paths:

    • EM Customers can do a fresh installation using "Oracle Enterprise Manager Cloud Control 12c Release 2 Plug-in Update 1 (12.1.0.2)", and will get the latest version of the product, along with all the latest plug-ins out of the box.
    • EM Customers who are on Release1 (12.1.0.1), or on older releases 11g and 10.2.0.5, can choose to use Oracle Enterprise Manager Cloud Control 12c Release 2 Plug-in Update 1, to move/upgrade directly to the latest Release 2, and all plug-ins will be automatically upgraded to the latest versions of all Plug-ins deployed.
    • EM Customers who have previously already moved on to EM Cloud Control Release 2 (12.1.0.2), can choose to utilize Self Update to download/import and deploy the new Plug-in versions, using the self update feature in the product.

    Enterprise Manager Certification Matrix available on My Oracle Support.

    Tuesday Feb 12, 2013

    SquareTwo Financial uses Oracle Data Masking for Compliance and Improves Performance by 96%

    Watch as leading financial services firm, SquareTwo Financial, talks about maintaining compliance while increasing IT productivity and performance by replacing in-house data masking with Oracle Data Masking solution.

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    Friday Feb 08, 2013

    Gartner Positions Oracle in Leaders Quadrant for Data Masking

    Gartner recently announced that Oracle Data Masking Pack, part of Oracle Enterprise Manager’s quality management and Oracle Database Security defense-in-depth solution, has been named a leader in the first Magic Quadrant for Data Masking Technology report.

    Oracle Data Masking strengths highlighted in the report include:

    • High performance data masking in Oracle Databases
    • Integration into Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c resulting in easy adoption
    • Availability of pre-built templates for popular packaged systems such as, Oracle E-Business Suite
    • Database security expertise and strong DBMS security portfolio

    About Oracle Data Masking
    Oracle Data Masking ensures privacy by transforming sensitive data before it is transferred to test, QA, and other non-production environments, addressing regulatory compliance for both Oracle and non-Oracle Databases.


    Oracle Data Masking Pack: Production data is cloned and masked before being copied to Test.

    Key Features:

    • Application data discovery
    • Centralized extensible format library
    • Comprehensive mask techniques
    • High performance masking with role-based security
    • Optimized for Oracle and non-Oracle databases
    • Integrated with Oracle testing products
    • Integrated with data subsetting

    Oracle Data Masking completely replaces sensitive information such as; names, account numbers, SSNs, financial results, purchasing transactions, etc. in your development, test and QA systems with data that cannot be “reverse engineered” to reveal its original source. This allows production data to be safely used for development, testing, or sharing with out-source or off-shore partners for other non-production purposes. The Pack provides extensive search capabilities to scan enterprise databases for sensitive data discovery based on established data patterns and models.

    The solution allows masking of all the related data elements automatically while preserving referential relationships combining the sensitive data columns and associated relationships in an Application Data Model. Oracle Data Masking can detect data dependencies, such as foreign key constraints and replaces sensitive information transparently. This ensures that the referential integrity necessary for applications to work and function properly will continue be in place, even on development systems.

    Benefits:

    • Administrators will save time and eliminate risk by replacing individual scripts and routines written by DBAs with centrally managed and deployed libraries of masking processes.
    • Provides secure, scalable and automated solution to create test environments from production data using bulk masking.The solution enables faster time-to-market by speeding up the development process while helping organizations comply with privacy regulations and confidentiality policies.
    • Enables rapid DBA productivity through the use of application masking templates.
    • Supports custom data masks that are defined once and can be used every time that set of data needs to be masked.
    • Data security is integrated within the application management lifecycle, meaning that DBAs can provide realistic-masked production data to developers or testing groups for accurate application testing while reducing their storage costs by not having to provision an entire production environment for each developer or project.
    • Oracle Data Masking Pack is built into and installed with Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c.

    Data Masking for Security and Compliance
    Oracle Data Masking offers a comprehensive and customizable library of masking formats, templates and policies that can be used to replace sensitive information with realistic simulated values—all with just a few mouse clicks. The sensitive data never has to leave the Oracle Database or the production environment. This maintains data security and compliance through privacy and confidentiality polices on shared production data. The solution helps protect against unauthorized access to data that is being shared with off-shore developers, partners or 3rd party vendors.


    Oracle Data Masking Pack: Centralized Extensible Format Library.

    In addition, Oracle Data Masking allows organizations to enforce compliance with regulatory requirements such as; Sarbanes-Oxley, Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, as well as numerous other laws and regulations that restrict the use of actual customer data.

    Oracle Data Masking continues to gain strong adoption, check out the latest customers to see how they are benefiting from the solution:

    LEARN MORE:

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    Friday Feb 01, 2013

    Network Ports Used in Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c

    When planning and configuring your Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c implementation, you will have many infrastructure considerations. One of the most often discussed pieces is the network ports that are used and how to configure load balancers, firewalls and ACLs for communication.

    This blog post will help identify the typical default port and range for each component, how to identify it and how to modify the port usage.

    [Read More]

    Wednesday Jan 30, 2013

    Coles Deploys Oracle Exadata and Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c

    Read the latest news about Coles Supermarkets, one of Australia's largest grocery chains with more than 100,000 employees and 2,000 stores country-wide. Learn how Coles completely revamped their data warehouse with Oracle Exadata and Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c . The new system improved Coles's processes and critical reporting by as much as 3 to 4x out-of-the-box with a 4 to 6x faster query performance. The result, higher quality of service for the business and for customers during peak seasonal spikes.

    LEARN MORE:

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    Tuesday Jan 29, 2013

    WEBCAST: Protect Your Sensitive and Confidential Data Using Oracle Data Masking Solution

    Thursday February 7
    10:00 a.m. PST / 1:00 p.m. EST

    Join us for a live and interactive webcast on how to comply with regulatory requirements and data protection policies by protecting sensitive data in non-production Oracle Databases as well as non-Oracle databases using Oracle Data Masking Pack, a part of Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c quality management and Oracle Database Security defense-in-depth solution. Topics include:

    • Automatically discovering sensitive data
    • Standard and advanced masking techniques made easy
    • Eliminate the need for a staging database using At-source masking
    • Secure your Oracle Applications (Oracle E-Business Suite, Oracle Fusion Applications) data quickly using masking templates
    • Seamless masking integration with Oracle's data subsetting solution
    Register today
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    Friday Jan 25, 2013

    Enterprise Manager for Big Data Appliance (BDA) Plugin - 12.1.0.1.0

    Earlier this month (Jan 2013) we announced the GA of Enterprise Manager for Big Data Appliance (BDA) Plugin - 12.1.0.1.0

    This is the first version of Enterprise Manager for Big Data Appliance (BDA) Plugin release. The plugin is available to EM customers on Self Update (screenshot below), and certification information for this plugin is also available to customers on MyOracleSupport certify (here).


    BDA
    Using the Enterprise Manager 12c Big Data Appliance Plug-in 12.1.0.1, users can:

    1. Discover the software and hardware components of a Big Data Appliance Network and add them as managed targets.
    2. Manage the hardware and software components that comprise a Big Data Appliance Network as a single target or as individual targets.
    3. Study collected metrics to analyze the performance of the network and each Big Data Appliance component.
    4. Trigger alerts based on availability and system health.
    5. Respond to warnings and incidents.

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    Thursday Jan 24, 2013

    HDFC Bank Deploys Database-as-a-Service with Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c

    Listen in as one of India’s largest banks discusses the benefits of using Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c to manage their database-as-a-service deployment.

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    Tuesday Jan 15, 2013

    Answers to Your Common Database Performance Questions

    An Interview with Oracle Database Manageability Expert, Deba Chatterjee

    Throughout the year we hear from lots of customers and get many questions about managing Oracle Database. In this blog, I thought I would try and provide some answers to common diagnostics and tuning questions with the help of our product manager and residence expert for Oracle Database Manageability, Deba Chatterjee. Deba has a wealth of database performance tuning experience both inside and outside of Oracle managing large data warehouses. Deba is responsible for Oracle Diagnostics Pack for Database and Oracle Tuning Pack for Database. I recently sat down with Deba and had a chat about database manageability.

    Scott McNeil: Deba, we get many people asking questions about database performance—many still don't know about all the deep diagnostics capabilities Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c has to offer for Oracle Database. Capabilities such as; Compare Period ADDM, Real-Time ADDM, Active Session History (ASH) Analytics Real-Time SQL Monitoring, using Metric Extensions, and SQL Tuning Advisor—how do customers get all these capabilities for their database?

    Deba Chatterjee: We recently ran a webcast: Maximize Oracle Database Performance with Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c: Top 10 Tips and Tricks that explains how many of these features work. I highly recommend people watch the webcast to get a better understanding of the capabilities you mentioned. But the short answer is: for Compare Period ADDM, Real-Time ADDM, Metric Extensions you need to license Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c Diagnostics Pack for Database. For Real-Time SQL Monitoring, SQL Tuning Advisor, you will need the Oracle Tuning Pack for Database.

    Scott McNeil: Another question customers repeatedly ask is around Cloud Control and Database Control. Deba, can you explain the difference between Oracle Enterprise Manager Cloud Control 12c (formerly Grid Control) and Database Control.

    Deba Chatterjee: Although they belong to the same family of products there is a fundamental difference between the two. Database Control can be used to manage only a single database with which it has been configured, while Oracle Enterprise Manager Cloud Control 12c allows you to manage all your databases under the same centralized management console. Plus Cloud Control lets you manage not only all your databases but your entire application and technology stack too, whether it's in a private cloud or in a traditional environment.

    How do you modify the Metric Value History retention in Enterprise Manager? For example; Enterprise Manager only shows the last 7 days, how do you display longer than 7 days?

    Deba Chatterjee: There are various retention times based on the type of metric data:

    • Raw metric data: default retention time is 7 days
    • Hourly aggregated metric data: default retention is 31 days
    • Daily aggregated metric data: default retention is 12 months

    Refer to the documentation here, if you want to change the default retention time.

    For Compare Period ADDM, how do you relate that in the context of system load?

    Deba Chatterjee: In the resource usage tab, you can check the system CPU, Memory, I/O and interconnect (for RAC databases) utilizations across the 2 comparison periods in the same database.

    Does Compare Period ADDM take into account the average read and average write in order to identify why the variance is happening in performance?

    Deba Chatterjee: Compare Period ADDM uses database time to compare the performance across two periods. It does not compare based on average read or write times.

    Does Enterprise Manager have the ability to create customized performance graphs? For example; can you create a graph for CPU usage in the last 24 hours on a given Host?

    Deba Chatterjee: This is possible through the information publisher or BI publisher reports. As for the CPU usage, the chart is available out-of-the box in the target page for hosts.

    How do you connect to the database itself when it’s hung and won't allow any extra connections? Do you use command line? Can you use ADDM even though the database is hung?

    Deba Chatterjee: When the database is hung, you can connect to it using the diagnostic connection mode in Real-Time ADDM. The agent that is used to monitor the database makes the connection. No, command line is used. You have to use Real-Time ADDM for the connection.

    Is Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c compatible with older versions of the database?

    Deba Chatterjee: You can use Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c to monitor Oracle Database versions: 9.2.0.8, 10.1.0.5, 10.2.0.4, 10.2.0.5, 11.1.0.7, 11.2.0.1, 11.2.0.2, and 11.2.0.3.

    Is SQL Performance Analyzer part of Oracle Database 11g or do you need to use Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c?

    Deba Chatterjee: SQL Performance Analyzer is built into the database and provides command line APIs. However, Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c provides the complete orchestration needed to capture the SQL tuning set, run the performance trials, and then to create a performance comparison report.

    How do you enable Enterprise Manager to monitor and send alerts to the DBAs for a "Runaway Query?”

    Deba Chatterjee: You can use EM to monitor runaway queries and send alerts using Metric Extensions which rely on the data captured in SQL Monitoring. The method was explained in this webcast presentation.

    How do you create a report for all the SQL running in an instance during a 30 minute timeframe? Can you export this to a spreadsheet?

    Deba Chatterjee: ASH stores sampled (1 seconds in memory or 10 seconds on-disk) SQL. However ASH is meant to capture the high load SQL statements so it won’t have all SQL statements.

    Do you recommend enabling automatic gathering of SQL baselines as a preventative measure of SQL regression?

    Deba Chatterjee: No. This would be overkill. Identify the queries that frequently change plans and then create SQL plan baselines.

    If a server has multiple database instances, what is the best way to effectively do resource allocation?

    Deba Chatterjee: There is no silver bullet. Carefully study your database load and decide on use of services, instance caging and resource managers to manage load on servers.

    When using SQL Performance Analyzer, do you create the baseline first before the code change is deployed or at peak DB time?

    Deba Chatterjee: These are two different problems. While testing for Code change, the baseline should be created before the code is deployed. While testing for an upgrade scenario the baseline needs to be created at a peak DB time.

    Is there a metric to monitor ASM disk group utilization at the cluster level?

    Deba Chatterjee: Yes. ASM Disk Group Usage metric is what you can use. (See image below)

    Can Oracle Enterprise Manager’s alerts be configured to monitor elements in the audit trail such as table creation or table drop?

    Deba Chatterjee: Yes, these type of alerts can be configured using Metric Extensions.

    LEARN MORE:

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    Friday Dec 21, 2012

    Oracle-validated NetApp Storage Plug-in for Enterprise Manager 12c

    The following is a Guest Blog, contributed by Anand Ranganathan, Product Manager for Oracle Products and Solutions at NetApp

    As a DBA managing databases running on storage systems, some of your major challenges are how do you:

    • Pinpoint storage related problems in a timely manner
    • Proactively respond to problems
    • Map a database file to its underlying storage component
    • Reduce your dependency on the storage admin
    • Solve these problems using an Oracle product that you use everyday

    If you are planning to or are currently running your Oracle databases on NetApp storage systems then the NetApp Storage System Plug-in for Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c resolves the above challenges by:

    • Consolidating information about Oracle on NetApp environments into the Enterprise Manager Cloud Control Console providing one interface to monitor databases and storage systems
    • Correlating and pinpointing storage related database problems by mapping database components like tablespaces, datafiles to storage components like aggregates, volumes using built-in reports and automating collecting a comprehensive set of availability, performance and usage metrics with pre-defined thresholds.  Alerts are automatically sent out when thresholds are breached helping you to respond proactively to problems before they occur.  You can also ensure routine responses to alerts are automatically executed using corrective actions
    • Increasing operational efficiencies by allowing you to standardize optimal Monitoring settings into a template and apply them to one or more NetApp Storage systems, report on historical metrics data for trend analysis & planning database storage needs, compare multiple storage system configurations to ensure they are deployed as per standards and prevent unnecessary alerts during scheduled downtimes with Blackout Periods

    The plug-in was built by NetApp using the Enterprise Manager 12c Extensibility Kit that not only helped us develop screens that have a rich look and feel but also helped enrich the plug-in by allowing us to leverage Cloud Control’s powerful monitoring and event management features for monitoring of NetApp storage systems. 

    The NetApp Storage System Plug-in for Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c is free and is listed at the Enterprise Manager Extensibility Exchange.  The plug-in has achieved Oracle Validated Integration, which provides customers the confidence knowing that it:

    • is designed and built in a reliable, standardized way
    • has been tested as functionally and technically sound
    • operates and performs as documented

    Here is a screenshot of the dashboard of a NetApp storage system monitored with Enterprise Manager 12c via the NetApp plug-in.



    Customers and partners can visit the NetApp Communities site to watch a demo and download the plug-in.  If you are a partner, visit the Oracle PartnerNetwork Validated Integration Knowledge Zone to learn more about the validation program.

    Tuesday Nov 20, 2012

    Upgrading to Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c Release 2: Top Tips One Must Know

    Recently Oracle announced incremental release of Enterprise Manager 12c called Enterprise Manager 12c Release 2 (EM12c R2) which includes several new exciting features (Press announcement). Right before the official release, we upgraded an internal production site from EM 12c R1 to EM 12c R2 and had an extremely pleasant experience. Let me share few key takeaways as well as few tips from this upgrade exercise.

    I - Why Should You Upgrade To Enterprise Manager 12c Release 2

    While an upgrade is usually recommended primarily to take benefit of the latest features (which is valid for this upgrade as well), I found several other compelling reasons purely from deployment perspective.

    1. Standardize your EM deployment:  Enterprise Manager comprises of several different components (OMS, agents, plug-ins, etc) and it might be possible that these are at varied patch levels in your environment. For instance, in case of an environment containing Bundle Patch 1 (customer announcement), there is a good chance that you may not have all the components up-to-date. There are two possible reasons.
      • Bundle Patch 1 involved patching different components (OMS, agents, plug-ins) with multiple one-off patches which may not have been applied to all components yet.
      • Bundle Patch 1 for different platforms were not released together. Which means you may not have got the chance to patch all the components on different platforms.

      Note: BP1 patches are not mandatory to upgrade to EM12c R2 release

      EM 12c R2 provides an excellent opportunity to standardize your Cloud Control environment (OMS, repository and agents) and plug-ins to latest versions in single shot.

    2. All platform releases are made available simultaneously: For the very first time in the history of EM release, all the platforms were released on day one itself, which means you do not need to wait for platform specific binaries for EM OMS or Agent to perform install or upgrades in a heterogeneous environment.
    3. Highly refined and automated process – Upgrade process is by far the smoothest and the cleanest as compared to previous releases of Enterprise manager. Following are the ones that stand out.
      • Automatic Plug-in management – Plug-in upgrade along with new plug-in deployment is supported in upgrade installer wizard which means bulk of the updates to OMS and repository can be done in the same workflow. Saves time and minimizes user inputs.
      • Plug-in Upgrade or Migrate

      • Auto Update: While doing the OMS and repository upgrade, you can use Auto Update screen in Oracle Universal Installer to check for any updates/patches. That will help you to avoid the know issues and will make sure that your upgrade is successful.
      • Allows mass upgrade of EM Agents – A new dedicated menu has been added in the EM console for agent upgrade. Agent upgrade workflow is extremely simple that requires agent name as the only input.
      • ADM / JVMD Manager/Agent upgrade – complete process is supported via UI screens.
      • EM12c R2 Upgrade Guide is much simpler to follow as compared to those for earlier releases. This is attributed to the simpler upgrade process.
    4. Robust and Performing Platform: EM12c R2 release not only includes several new features, but also provides a more stable platform which incorporates several fixes and enhancements in the Enterprise Manager framework.

    II - Few Tips To Remember

    In my last post (blog link) I shared few tips and tricks from my experience applying the Bundle Patch. Recently I upgraded the same site to EM 12c R2 and found few points that you must take note of, while planning this upgrade. The tips below are also applicable to EM 12c R1 environments that do not have Bundle Patch 1 patches applied.

    1. Verify the monitored application certification – Specific targets like E-Business Suite have not yet been certified as managed target in EM 12c R2. Therefore make sure to recheck the Enterprise Manager certification Matrix on My Oracle Support before planning the upgrade.
    2. Plan downtime – Because EM 12c R2 is an incremental release of EM 12c, for EM 12c R1 to EM 12c R2 upgrade supports only 1-system upgrade approach, which mean there will be downtime.
    3. OMS name change after upgrade – In case of multi OMS environments, additional OMS is renamed after upgrade, which has few implications when you upgrade JVMD and ADP agents on OMS. This is well documented in upgrade guide but make sure you read through all the notes.
    4. Upgrading BI Publisher– EM12c R2 is certified with BI Publisher 11.1.1.6.0 only. Therefore in case you are using EM 12c R1 which is integrated with BI Publisher 11.1.1.5.0, you must upgrade the BI Publisher to 11.1.1.6.0. Follow the steps from Advanced Installation and Configuration Guide here.
    5. Perform Post upgrade Tasks – Make sure to perform post upgrade steps mentioned in documentation here. These include critical changes that must be done right after upgrade to get the right configuration. For instance Database plug-in should be upgraded to Revision 3 (12.1.0.2.0 [u120804]).
    6. Delete old OMS Home – EM12c R1 to EM12c R2 is an out of place upgrade, which means it creates a new oracle home for OMS, plug-ins, etc. Therefore please ensure that
      • You have sufficient extra space for new OMS before starting the upgrade process.
      • You clean up the old OMS home after the upgrade process. Steps are available here.
      • DO NOT remove the agent home on OMS host, because agent is upgraded in-place.
    7. If you have standby OMS setup then do look into the steps to upgrade the standby OMS from the upgrade guide before going ahead.
    8. Read the right documentation – Make sure to follow the Upgrade guide which provides the most comprehensive information on EM12c R2 upgrade process. Additionally you can refer other resources to get familiar with upgrade concepts.

    We are very excited about this latest release and will look forward to hear back any feedback from your upgrade experience!

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    Thursday Nov 15, 2012

    Ops Center Solaris 11 IPS Repository Management: Using ISO Images

    A recording of this community call is now available here:

    https://oracleconferencing.webex.com/oracleconferencing/ldr.php?AT=pb&SP=MC&rID=71862997&rKey=76be5a666dc12c90

    With Enterprise Manager Ops Center 12c, you can provision, patch, monitor and manage Oracle Solaris 11 instances. To do this, Ops Center creates and maintains a Solaris 11 Image Packaging System (IPS) repository on the Enterprise Controller. During the Enterprise Controller configuration, you can load repository content directly from Oracle's Support Web site and subsequently synchronize the repository as new content becomes available.

    Of course, you can also use Solaris 11 ISO images to create and update your Ops Center repository. There are a few excellent reasons for doing this:

    1. You're running Ops Center in disconnected mode, and don't have Internet access on your Enterprise Controller
    2. You'd rather avoid the bandwidth associated with live synchronization of a Solaris 11 package repository

    This demo will show you how to use Solaris 11 ISO images to set up and update your Ops Center repository.


    Prerequisites

    This tip assumes that you've already installed the Enterprise Controller on a Solaris 11 OS instance and that you're ready for post-install configuration.

    In addition, there are specific Ops Center and OS version requirements depending on which version of Solaris 11 you plan to install.You can get full details about the requirements in the Release Notes for Ops Center 12c update 2.

    Additional information is available in the Ops Center update 2 Readme document.


    Part 1: Using a Solaris 11 ISO Image to Create an Ops Center Repository

    Step 1 – Download the Solaris 11 Repository Image

    The Oracle Web site provides a number of download links for official Solaris 11 images. Among those links is a two-part downloadable repository image, which provides repository content for Solaris 11 SPARC and X86 architectures. In this case, I used the Solaris 11 11/11 image.

    First, navigate to the Oracle Web site and accept the OTN License agreement:

    http://www.oracle.com/technetwork/server-storage/solaris11/downloads/index.html

    Next, download both parts of the Solaris 11 repository image. I used the Solaris 11 11/11 image, and have provided the URLs here:

    http://download.oracle.com/otn/solaris/11/sol-11-1111-repo-full.iso-a
    http://download.oracle.com/otn/solaris/11/sol-11-1111-repo-full.iso-b

    Finally, use the cat command to generate an ISO image you can use to create your repository:
    # cat sol-11-1111-repo-full.iso-a sol-11-1111-repo-full.iso-b > sol-11-1111-repo-full.iso

    The process is very similar if you plan to set up a Solaris 11.1 release in Ops Center. In that case, navigate to the Solaris 11 download page, accept the license agreement and download both parts of the Solaris 11.1 repository image. Use the cat command to create a single ISO image for Solaris 11.1

    Step 2 – Mount the Solaris 11 ISO Image in your Local Filesystem

    Once you have created the Solaris 11 ISO file, use the mount command to attach it to your local filesystem. After the image has been mounted, you can browse the repository from the ./repo subdirectory, and use the pkgrepo command to verify that Solaris 11 recognizes the content:


    Step 3 – Use the Image to Create your Ops Center Repository

    When you have confirmed the repository is available, you can use the image to create the Enterprise Controller repository. The operation will be slightly different depending on whether you configure Ops Center for Connected or Disconnected Mode operation.

    For connected mode operation, specify the mounted ./repo directory in step 4.1 of the configuration wizard, replacing the default Web-based URL. Since you're synchronizing from an OS repository image, you don't need to specify a key or certificate for the operation.


    For disconnected mode configuration, specify the Solaris 11 directory along with the path to the disconnected mode bundle downloaded by running the Ops Center harvester script:

    Ops Center will run a job to import package content from the mounted ISO image. A synchronization job can take several hours to run – in my case, the job ran for 3 hours, 22 minutes on a SunFire X4200 M2 server.


    During the job, Ops Center performs three important tasks:

    1. Synchronizes all content from the image and refreshes the repository
    2. Updates the IPS publisher information
    3. Creates OS Provisioning profiles and policies based on the content

    When the job is complete, you can unmount the ISO image from your Enterprise Controller. At that time, you can view the repository contents in your Ops Center Solaris 11 library. For the Solaris 11 11/11 release, you should see 8,668 packages and patches in the contents.


    You should also see default deployment plans for Solaris 11 provisioning. As part of the repository import, Ops Center generates plans and profiles for desktop, small and large servers for the SPARC and X86 architecture.



    Part 2: Using a Solaris 11 SRU to update an Ops Center Repository

    It's possible to use the same approach to upgrade your Ops Center repository to a Solaris 11 Support Repository Update, or SRU. Each SRU provides packages and updates to Solaris 11 - for example, SRU 8.5 provided the packaged for Oracle VM Server for SPARC 2.2

    SRUs are available for download as ISO images from My Oracle Support, under document ID 1372094.1. The document provides download links for all SRUs which have been released by Oracle for Solaris 11. SRUs are cumulative, so later versions include the packages from earlier SRUs.


    After downloading an ISO image for an SRU, you can mount it to your local filesystem using a mount command similar to the one shown for Solaris 11 11/11.

    When the ISO image is mounted to the file system, you can perform the Add Content action from the Solaris 11 Library to synchronize packages and patches from the mounted image. I used the same mount point, so the repository URL was file://mnt/repo once again:


    After the synchronization of an SRU is complete, you can verify its content in the Solaris 11 library using the search function. The version pattern is 0.175.0.#, where the # is the same value as the SRU.

    In this example, I upgraded to SRU 1. The update job ran in just under 8 minutes, and a quick search shows that 22 software components were added to the repository:


    It's also possible to search for "Support Repository Update" to confirm the SRU was successfully added to the repository. Details on any of the update content are available by clicking the "View Details" button under the Packages/Patches entry.


    Monday Nov 12, 2012

    Answers to Your Common Oracle Database Lifecycle Management Questions


    We recently ran a live webcast on Strategies for Managing Oracle Database's Lifecycle. There were tons of questions from our audience that we simply could not get to during the hour long presentation. Below are some of those questions along with their answers. Enjoy!

    Question: In the webcast the presenter talked about “gold” configuration standards, for those who want to use this technique, could you recommend a best practice to consider or follow? How do I get started?

    Answer:
    Gold configuration standardization is a quick and easy way to improve availability through consistency. Start by choosing a reference database and saving the configuration to the Oracle Enterprise Manager repository using the Save Configuration feature. Next create a comparison template using the Oracle provided template as a starting point and modify the ignored properties to eliminate expected differences in your environment. Finally create a comparison specification using the comparison template you created plus your saved gold configuration and schedule it to run on a regular basis. Don’t forget to fill in the email addresses of those you want to notify upon drift detection. Watch the database configuration management demo to learn more.

    Question: Can Oracle Lifecycle Management Pack for Database help with patching an Oracle Real Application Cluster (RAC) environment?

    Answer:
    Yes, Oracle Enterprise Manager supports both parallel and rolling patch application of Oracle Real Application Clusters. The use of rolling patching is recommended as there is no downtime involved. For more details watch this demo.

    Question: What are some of the things administrators can do to control configuration drift? Why is it important?

    Answer:
    Configuration drift is one of the main causes of instability and downtime of applications. Oracle Enterprise Manager makes it easy to manage and control drift using scheduled configuration comparisons combined with comparison templates.

    Question: Does Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c Release 2 offer an incremental update feature for "gold" images? For instance, if the source binary has a higher PSU level, what is the best approach to update the existing "gold" image in the software library? Do you have to create a new image or can you just update the original one?

    Answer:
    Provisioning Profiles (Gold images) can contain the installation files and database configuration templates. Although it is possible to make some changes to the profile after creation (mainly to configuration), it is normally recommended to simply create a new profile after applying a patch to your reference database.

    Question: The webcast talked about enforcing in-house standards, does Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c offer verification of your databases and systems to those standards? For example, the initial "gold" image has been massively deployed over time, and there may be some changes to it. How can you do regular checks from Enterprise Manager to ensure the in-house standards are being enforced?

    Answer:
    There are really two methods to validate conformity to standards.

    The first method is to use gold standards which you compare other databases to report unwanted differences. This method uses a new comparison template technology which allows users to ignore known differences (i.e. SID, Start time, etc) which results in a report only showing important or non-conformant differences. This method is quick to setup and configure and recommended for those who want to get started validating compliance quickly.

    The second method leverages the new compliance framework which allows the creation of specific and robust validations. These compliance rules are grouped into standards which can be assigned to databases quickly and easily. Compliance rules allow for targeted and more sophisticated validation beyond the basic equals operation available in the comparison method. The compliance framework can be used to implement just about any internal or industry standard. The compliance results will track current and historic compliance scores at the overall and individual database targets. When the issue is resolved, the score is automatically affected. Compliance framework is the recommended long term solution for validating compliance using Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c. Check out this demo on database compliance to learn more.

    Question: If you are using the integration between Oracle Enterprise Manager and My Oracle Support in an "offline" mode, how do you know if you have the latest My Oracle Support metadata?

    Answer:
    In Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c Release 2, you now only need to download one zip file containing all of the metadata xmls files. There is no indication that the metadata has changed but you could run a checksum on the file and compare it to the previously downloaded version to see if it has changed.

    Question: What happens if a patch fails while administrators are applying it to a database or system?

    Answer:
    A large portion of Oracle Enterprise Manager's patch automation is the pre-requisite checks that happen to ensure the highest level of confidence the patch will successfully apply. It is recommended you test the patch in a non-production environment and save the patch plan as a template once successful so you can create new plans using the saved template.

    If you are using the recommended ‘out of place’ patching methodology, there is no urgency because the database is still running as the cloned Oracle home is being patched. Users can address the issue and restart the patch procedure at the point it left off.

    If you are using 'in place' method, you can address the issue and continue where the procedure left off.

    Question: Can Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c R2 compare configurations between more than one target at the same time?

    Answer:
    Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c can compare any number of target configurations at one time. This is the basis of many important use cases including Configuration Drift Management. These comparisons can also be scheduled on a regular basis and emails notification sent should any differences appear. To learn more about configuration search and compare watch this demo.

    Question: How is data comparison done since changes are taking place in a live production system?

    Answer:
    There are many things to keep in mind when using the data comparison feature (as part of the Change Management ability to compare table data). It was primarily intended to be used for maintaining consistency of important but relatively static data. For example, application seed data and application setup configuration. This data does not change often but is critical when testing an application to ensure results are consistent with production. It is not recommended to use data comparison on highly dynamic data like transactional tables or very large tables.

    Question: Which versions of Oracle Database can be monitored through Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c?

    Answer:
    Oracle Database versions: 9.2.0.8, 10.1.0.5, 10.2.0.4, 10.2.0.5, 11.1.0.7, 11.2.0.1, 11.2.0.2, 11.2.0.3.


    Watch the On-Demand Webcast


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