Tuesday Mar 25, 2014

Demo: Setting Up a Database Cloud Self Service Portal for Data Cloning Using Snap Clone

This demo shows how to setup a database cloud self service portal for data cloning using Snap Clone in Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c.

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Wednesday Jan 15, 2014

Oracle Enterprise Manager Snap Clone Webcast Replay and Slides

Thank you to all who attended our webcast on Enterprise Manager 12c Snap Clone last month. In this webcast, we talked about how EM12c Snap Clone can help:

  • Leverage storage copy-on-write technologies for rapid provisioning
  • Integrate cloning with other Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c Lifecycle Management features, such as data masking and sub-setting
  • “Time travel” across multiple database snapshots to restore and access past data
  • Reduced administrative overhead from integrated lifecycle management

 For those who missed this webcast, the replay is available here and the slides have been uploaded to slideshare.

Feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions on Snap Clone or Database as a Service.

- Adeesh Fulay (@adeeshf)


Thursday Jan 02, 2014

What is EM 12c DBaaS Snap Clone?

Happy New Year to all! Being the first blog post of the new year, lets look at a relatively new feature in EM that has gained significant popularity over the last year - EM 12c DBaaS Snap Clone.

The ‘Oracle Cloud Management Pack for Oracle Database’ a.k.a the Database as a Service (DBaaS) feature in EM 12c has grown tremendously since its release two years ago.  It started with basic single instance and RAC database provisioning, a technical service catalog, an out of box self service portal, metering and chargeback, etc. But since then we have added provisioning of schemas and pluggable databases, full clones using RMAN backups, and Snap Clone. This video showcases the various EM12c DBaaS features.

This blog will cover one of the most exciting and popular features – Snap Clone. In one line, Snap Clone is a self service way of creating rapid and space efficient clones of large (~TB) databases.

Self Service - empowers the end users (developers, testers, data analysts, etc) to get access to database clones whenever they need it.
Rapid - implies the time it takes to clone the database. This is in minutes and not hours, days, or weeks.
Space Efficient - represents the significant reduction in storage (>90%) required for cloning databases

Customer Scenario

To best explain the benefits of Snap Clone, let’s look at a Banking customer scenario:

  • 5 production databases total 30 TB of storage
  • All 5 production databases have a standby
  • Clones of the production database are required for data analysis and reporting
  • 6 total clones across different teams every quarter
  • For security reasons, sensitive data has to be masked prior to cloning

Based on the above scenario, the storage required, if using traditional cloning techniques, can be calculated as follows:

5 Prod DB                  = 30 TB
5 Standby DB            = 30 TB
5 Masked DB             = 30 TB (These will be used for creating clones)
6 Clones (6 * 30 TB) = 180 TB
                               ------------------
Total                           = 270 TB
Time = days to weeks

As the numbers indicate, this is quite horrible. Not only 30 TB turn into 270 TB, creating 6 clones of all production databases would take forever. In addition to this, there are other issues with data cloning like:

  • Lack of automation. Scripts are good but often not a long term solution.
  • Traditional cloning techniques are slow while, existing storage vendor solutions are DBA unfriendly
  • Data explosion often outpaces storage capacity and hurts ITs ability to provide clones for dev and testing
  • Archaic processes that require multiple users to share a single clone, or only supports fixed refresh cycles
  • Different priorities between DBAs and Storage admins

Snap Clone to the Rescue

All of the above issues lead to slow turnaround times, and users have to wait for days and weeks to get access to their databases. Basically, we end up with competing priorities and requirements, where the user demands self service access, rapid cloning, and the ability to revert data changes, while IT demands standardization, better control, reduction in storage and administrative overhead, better visibility into the database stack, etc.

EM 12c DBaaS Snap Clone tries to address all these issues. It provides:

  • Rapid and space efficient cloning of databases by leveraging storage copy-on-write (or similar) technology
  • Supports all database versions from 10g to 12c
  • Supports various storage vendors and configurations NAS and SAN
  • Lineage and association tracking between clone master and its various clones and snapshots
  • 'Time Travel' capability to restore and access past data
  • Deep visibility into storage, OS, and database layer for easy triage of performance and configuration issues
  • Simplified access for end user via out-of-the-box self service portal
  • RESTful APIs to integrate with custom portals and third party products
  • Ability to meter and charge back on the clone databases

So how does Snap Clone work?

The secret sauce lies in the Storage Management Framework (SMF) plug-in. This plug-in sits between the storage system and the DBA, and provides the much needed layer of abstraction required to shield DBAs and users from the nuances of the different storage systems. At the storage level, Snap Clone makes use of storage copy-on-write (or similar) technology. There are two options in terms of using and interacting with storage:

1. Direct connection to storage: Here storage admins can register NetApp and ZFS storage appliance with EM, and then EM directly connects to the storage appliance and performs all required snapshot and clone operations. This approach requires you to license the relevant options on the storage appliance, but is the easiest and the most efficient and fault tolerant approach.

2. Connection to storage via ZFS file system: This is a storage vendor agnostic solution and can be used by any customer. Here instead of connecting to storage, the storage admin mounts the volumes to a Solaris server and format it with ZFS file system. Now all snapshot and clone operations required on the storage are conducted via ZFS file system,. The good thing about this approach is that it does not require thin cloning options to be licensed on the storage since ZFS file system provides these capabilities.

For more details on how to setup and use Snap Clone, refer to a previous blog post.

Now, lets go back to our Banking customer scenario and see how Snap Clone helped then reduce their storage cost and time to clone.

5 Prod DB                      = 30 TB
5 Standby DB                 = 30 TB
5 Masked DB                 = 30 TB
6 Clones (6 * 30 TB)      = 180 TB
6 Clones (6 * 5 * 2 GB) = 60 GB
                                   ------------------
Total                               = 270 TB 90 TB
Time = days to weeks minutes

Assuming the clone databases will have minimal writes, we allocate about 2GB of write space per clone. For 5 production databases and 6 clones, this totals to just 60GB in required storage space. This is a whopping 99.97% savings in storage. Plus, these clones are created in matter of minutes and not the usual days or weeks. The product has out-of-the-box charts that show the storage savings across all storage devices and cloned databases. See the screenshot below.

Snap Clone Savings

Where can you use Snap Clone databases?

As i said earlier, Snap Clone is most effective when cloning large databases  (~TBs). Common scenarios we see our customers best use Snap Clone are:

  • Application upgrade testing. For example, EBusiness suite upgrade to R12.
  • Functional testing. For example, testing using production datasets.
  • Agile development. For example, run parallel development sprints by giving each sprint its own cloned database.
  • Data Analysis and Reporting. For example, stock market analysis at the close of market everyday.

Its obvious that Snap Clone has a strong affinity to applications, since its application data that you want to clone and use. Hence it is important to add that the Snap Clone feature when combined with EM12c middleware-as-a-service (MWaaS) can provide a complete end-to-end self service application deployment experience. If you have existing portals or need to integrate Snap Clone with existing processes, then use our RESTful APIs for easy integration with third party systems.

In summary, Snap Clone is a new and exciting way of dealing with data cloning challenges. It shields DBAs from the nuances of different storage systems, while allowing end users to request and use clones in a rapid and self service fashion. All of this while saving storage costs. So try this feature out today, and your development and test teams will thank you forever.

In subsequent blog posts, we will look at some popular deployment models used with Snap Clone.

-- Adeesh Fulay (@adeeshf)

Additional References

Cloud Management Page on OTN

Cloud Administration Guide (Documentation)

Enterprise Manager 12c Database-as-a-Service Snap Clone Overview (Presentation)

Thursday Nov 28, 2013

Database Cloning in Minutes using Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c Snap Clone

Date: Tuesday, December 3 , 2013
Time: 7:00 a.m. PST | 10:00 p.m. EST

Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c Snap Clone allows administrators to create fully functional copies of databases using the copy-on-write capabilities of the underlying storage layer. Users can request databases from Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c's self-service portal and have them provisioned within minutes instead of hours while keeping storage needs to a minimum. Part of Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c Cloud Management Pack for Oracle Databases, Snap Clone can fundamentally improve the efficiency and agility of administrators and QA engineers while saving storage costs and other capital expenses.

Join us for this webcast to learn how Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c Snap Clone can help:

  • Leverage storage copy-on-write technologies for fast provisioning
  • Integrate cloning with other Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c Lifecycle Management features, such as data masking and sub-setting
  • “Time travel” across multiple database snapshots to restore and access past data
  • Reduced administrative overhead from integrated lifecycle management

Register Now!


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Thursday Mar 14, 2013

Database as a Service: Glad that you asked these!

Thanks for visiting my earlier blog post on the new Database as a Service (DBaaS) features which got released in Enterprise Manager 12cR2 Plugin Update 1.

Our first public webcast on  DBaaS since the release was held this morning (the recording will be soon available on O.com). The webcast was pretty well attended with peak attendance going well over our expectation. I wish we had more time to handle the technical Q&A, but since we didn't, let me use the blogosphere to answer some of the questions that were asked. I am repeating some of the questions that we answered during the webcast, because they warrant details beyond what the duration permitted.

Kevin from the audience asked "What's the difference between a regular provisioning and DbaaS?" Sometimes the apparently obvious ones are the most difficult to answer. The recently released whitepaper covers the regular/traditional provisioning versus DBaaS in detail. Long story cut short, in a traditional provisioning model, IT (usually a DBA) uses scripts and tools to provision databases on behalf of end users. In DBaaS IT's role changes and the DBA simply creates a service delivery platform for end users to provision databases on demand as and when they need them. And that too, with minimal inputs ! Here's how the process unfolds:

  • The DBA pools together a bunch of server resources that can host databases or a bunch of databases that can host schema and creates a Self-Service zone.
  • The DBA creates a gold image and provisioning procedure and expresses that as a service template
  • As a result, the end users do not have to deal with the intricacies of the provisioning process. They input a couple of very simple things like the service template and the zone and everything else happens under the hood. The provisioning process, the physicality of the database, etc are completely abstracted out.
  • And finally, because DbaaS deals with shared resource utilization and self-service automation, a DBaaS is usually complemented by quota, retirement and chargeback. 

The following picture can make it clear.


In terms of licensing, for a traditional administrator driven database provisioning, you need the Database Lifecycle Management Pack.  If you want to enable DBaaS on top of it, simply add the Cloud Management Pack for Database.

I will combine the next two questions. Alfred asked, "Is RAC a requirement?" (the short answer for which is "No") while Jud asked, "Is the schema-level provisioning supported in an environment where the target DBs are running in VMs?" First of all, in our DBaaS solution we support multiple models, as shown below.

In the dedicated database model, the database can run on a pool of servers or a pool of cluster. So both single instance and RAC are supported. Similarly, in the dedicated schema (Schema as a Service) model, it can run on single instance or RAC, which can in turn be hosted on physical servers or VMs. Enterprise Manager treats both physical servers and VMs as hosts and as long as the hosts have the agent installed, they can participate in DBaaS. Bottomline is that as we move from IaaS and offer these higher order services, the underlying infrastructure becomes irrelevant. This should also satisfy Steve, who queried "As the technology matures is there an attempt by Oracle to provide ODA vs EXADATA as the foundation of the dbaas to lower the cost?". The answer is YES. But, why wait?  DBaaS is supported on Exa and ODA platforms TODAY. In fact, HDFC Bank in India is running DBaaS on Exadata. You can read about them in the latest Oracle Magazine.

Another interesting question came from Yuri. He asked, "Is there an option to disable startup/shutdown for the self-service users?" It can be answered in multiple ways. First of all, in Schema as a Service or dedicated schema model, the end user cannot control the database instance state because it houses database services (schemas) owned by others too. So this may be a good model for enterprises trying to limit what end users can do at the database instance level.  However, in a dedicated database model, the Enterprise Manager out-of-box self-service console allows the end user to perform operations like startup and shutdown on the database instance. In general, if you want to create your tailored own self-service console with a limited set of operations exposed in the self-service interface, using the APIs may be the way to go. Enterprise Manager 12c also supports RESTFul APIs for self-service operations and hence a limited set of capabilities may be exposed. Check this technical presentation for the supported APIs.

Gordon's question precisely brings out the value of the Enterprise Manager 12c offering. He asked, "How do the services in the cloud get added to Cloud Control monitoring and alerting?" Ever since Amazon became the poster child of public IaaS, enterprises tried emulating their model within the data centers. What most people ignore or forget is that there is a life of the resources in a cloud beyond the provisioning process. Initial provisioning is just the beginning of that lifecycle. In Amazon's case, the management and monitoring of resources is the headache of Amazon's IT staff and consumers are oblivious to the time and effort it takes for them to manage the resources. In a private cloud scenario, one does not have that luxury. Once the database gets provisioned, it needs to monitored for performance, compliance and configuration drifts by company's own  IT staff. In Enterprise Manager 12c, the agent is deployed on the hosts that constitute the pool making the databases automatically managed without any additional work. It comprehensively manages the entire lifecycle and both adminsitrators and self-service users have tailored views of the databases. Well, this also gives me an opportunity to address a question by a participant who alluded to a 3rd party tool exclusively for database provisioning purposes. First of all, as I mentioned during the webcast, Enterprise Manager 12c is the only tool that handles all the use cases- creation of full databases, schemas and cloning (both full clone and Snap Clone) from a single management interface. The point tools out there handle only fraction of these use cases- some specialize in cloning while others specialize in seed database provisioning. Second, as stated in the previous answer, provisioning is only the initial phase of the lifecycle and a provisioning tool cannot be synonymous with a cloud management tool. Thanks Gordon for helping me make that point!

Sam and Cesar share the honors for the most difficult question that came right at the beginning. "Has it started?  Been on hold for a while." was their reaction at two minutes past ten. This is possibly the most embarrassing one for me because I was caught in traffic. With due apologies for that, I wish my car operated like Enterprise Manager's  Database as a Service!

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Wednesday Mar 06, 2013

Snap Clone: Instant, self-serviced database-on-demand

Snap Clone: Introduction
Oracle just released Enterprise Manager 12c Release 2 plugin Update 1 in February, 2013. This release has several new cloud management features that, such as Schema as a Service and Snap Clone. While the relevance of Schema as a Service is in the context of new database services, Snap Clone is useful in performing functional testing on pre-existing data.

One big consumer group of cloud is QA Engineers or Testers. They perform User Acceptance Tests (UAT) for various applications. To perform an UAT, they need to create copies of the production database. For intense testing, such as in pre-upgrade scenarios, they need a full updateable copy of the production data. There are other situations, such as in functional testing, they need to perform minimal updates to the data, but at the same time, need multiple functional copies. Enterprise Manager 12c supports both the scenarios. In the former case, it leverages RMAN backups to clone the data. In the latter case, it leverages the “Copy on Write” technology at the storage layer to perform Enterprise Manager 12c Snap Clone (or just Snap Clone). Currently, NAS technologies viz. Netapp and ZFS Storage Appliance are supported for Snap Clone. By using this technology, the entire data does not need to be cloned, but the new database can physically point to the source blocks within the same filer and only needs to allocate new blocks if there are updates to the cloned copy.

Underlying “Copy on Write” technology
To cover the underlying technology, let us look at the Netapp  and Sun ZFS storage technologies. First of all, Netapp supports pooling of storage resources and creating volumes on top of those. These volumes are called Flexvols. NetApp FlexClone technology enables true data cloning - instant replication of the Flexvols without requiring additional storage space at the time of creation.  Each cloned volume is a transparent, virtual copy that can be used for a wide range of operations such as product/system development testing, bug fixing, upgrade checks, data set simulations, etc. FlexClone volumes have all the capabilities of a FlexVol volume, including growing, shrinking, and being the source of a snapshot copy or even another FlexClone volume. Data ONTAP makes it happen by Copy on Write technology. When a volume is cloned, ONTAP does not allocate any new physical space but simply updates the metadata to point to the old blocks of the parent volume. NetApp filers use a Write Anywhere File Layout (WAFL) to manage disk storage. When a file is changed, the snapshot copy still points to the disk blocks where the file existed before it was modified, and only the changes (deltas) are written to new disk blocks. A block in WAFL currently can have a maximum of 255 pointers to it. This means that a single FlexVol volume can be cloned upto 255 times. All the metadata updates are just pointer changes, and the filer takes advantage of locality of reference, NVRAM, and RAID technology to keep everything fast and reliable. I found this documentation on the Netapp site specially useful to understand the concept. The following picture provides a graphical illustration of how this works.



Oracle  ZFS employs a similar copy-on-write methodology that creates clones that point to the source block of data. When one needs to modify the block, data is never overwritten in place. Oracle Solaris ZFS then creates new pointers to the new data and a new master block (uberblock) that points to the modified data tree. Only then does it move to using the new uberblock and tree. In addition to providing data integrity, having new and previous versions of the data on disk allows for services such as snapshots to be implemented very efficiently.

The best way to think of storage snapshots is that it is a point-in-time view of the data. It’s a time machine, letting you look into the past. Because it’s all just pointers, you can actually look at the snapshot as if it was the active filesystem. It’s read-only, because you can’t change the past, but you can actually look at it and read the data. NetApp and SunZFS snapshots just write the new information to a special bit of disk reserved for storing these changes, called the SnapReserve. Then, the pointers that tell the system where to find the data get updated to point to the new data in the SnapReserve.

Space efficiency: Since we are only recording the deltas, you get the disk savings of copy-on-write snapshots (typically a few hundred kilobytes for a 1 terabyte database).

Time efficiency: Because the snapshot is just pointers, to restore data (using SnapRestore), we simply update the pointers to point to the original data again. This is faster than copying all the data back. So taking a snapshot completes in seconds, even for really large volumes (like, terabytes) and so do restores. A typical terabyte database therefore takes only a couple of minutes to clone, backup and restore.

So, what is the additional benefit of Enterprise Manager Snap Clone over storage level cloning?

Snap Clone is complementary to the copy-on-write technologies described above. It leverages the technologies mentioned above;  however it provides additional value in:

  1. Automated registration and association with Test Master database: Registering the storage with Enterprise Manager in context of the Test Master database. For example, it queries the filer to find the storage volumes and then associates those with the volumes that the datafiles are associated with. It provides granular control to the admins to make a database clonable, since there could be databases that DBAs do not want cloned off.
  2. Database as a Service using a self-service paradigm: Provides a self-service user (typically a functional tester) to provision a clone based on the Test Master. The self-service capability has administrator side feature like setting up the pool of servers which will host the databases, creating a zone, creating service templates for provisioning and setting access controls for the users both at the zone level and the service template level.
  3. Time travel: Functional testers often need to go back to an earlier incarnation of a database. Enterprise Manager provides the self service users to take multiple snapshots of the database as backups. The users can then easily restore from an earlier snapshot. Since the snapshot is only a thin copy, the backup and restore are almost instantaneous, typically a couple of minutes. During restore a large part of that is spent in actually starting the database, for example and discovering its state in Enterprise manager and not in the actual restore.
  4. Manageability: Finally, Enterprise Manager provides the complete manageability of these clones. This includes performance management, lifecycle management, etc. For example, when cloning at a storage volume level, sysadmin tools have little idea on the databases and applications that are consuming those volumes. From an inventory management, capacity planning and compliance it is important to track the storage association and lineage of the clones at the database level. Enterprise Manager provides that rich set of manageability features.


So how does this work in Enterprise Manager 12c?

In order to understand the Snap Clone feature of Enterprise Manager and its relevance to DBaaS, it is important to understand the sequence of steps that enable the feature and the DbaaS.


Step 1: Setting up the DbaaS Pool
First of all the Sysadmin has to designate few servers (which become Enterprise Manager hosts when the agent is deployed on them) to constitute the PaaS Infrastructure Zone. Each of these servers should have the connectivity to be able to mount the volumes participating in the Snap Clone process.

The DBA intrinsically knows the exact versions and flavor of databases being used within each LoB along with the operating system version compatibility. As the next level of streamlining he/she can add each unique type of the database configuration to a single place called Pool. For example, single Instance 11.1.0.7, cluster database 11.2.0.2 …etc.

A database pool contains a set of homogeneous resources that can be used to provision a database instance within a PaaS Infrastructure Zone. For Snap Clone in particular, the administrator needs to pre-provision the same version of Oracle Homes either on standalone hosts or in a RAC cluster, which should be a part of the PaaS Infrastructure Zone.


Step 2: Setting up the Test Master
In the first step the administrator has to set up a Test Master as a clone of the production. Sometimes, the administrator has to create another copy of production at the source itself for masking and subsetting. The solution would vary depending on the customer's specific need and infrastructure. One can use one of RMAN, Dataguard, Golden Gate or even storage technologies such as Netapp Snapmirror, but usually our customers have figured out one way or other to do it. If the customer wishes to use EM for this, they can also use the Database Clone feature to clone the data (this leverages RMAN behind the scenes) or even use data synchronization feature of the Change Manager (part of Database Lifecycle Management Pack) to keep production and Test Master consistent. There is no unique way of accomplishing this; it all depends on the specific use case. There can be cases where the customer may need to mask or subset the data at source for which they can use those EM features as well.



The test master has to be created on ZFS Storage Appliance or Netapp Filer. Currently, the versions supported are:
·    ZFS Storage Appliance models  7410 and 7420
·    Any Netapp storage model where Version ONTAP® 7.2.1.1P1D18 or above of Netapp is supported.  The Netapp interoperability matrix is available here

Here’s a sample of database files on a Netapp filer that could constitute the Test Master database.
·    /vol/oradata (datafiles and indexes): [8-16 luns]
·    /vol/oralog (redologs only): [2-4 luns]
·    /vol/orarch  (archived redo logs ):[2-4 luns]
·    /vol/controlfiles (small vol for controlfiles):[2-4 luns]
·    /vol/oratemp (temp tablespace):[4-8 luns]

Step 3: Register the storage and designate the Test Master
Once the Test Master database has been created, one has to
1.    Discover the Test Master database as an EM target
2.    Register the storage with Enterprise Manager. Enterprise Manager uses an agent installed on Linux x86-64 bit to communicate with the filer. For NetApp storage, the connection is over http or https. For Sun ZFS storage, the connection is over ssh.

 Enterprise Manager associates a database with a filer by deriving the volumes  from the data files and then associating the volumes with those seen by the filer. For a database to participate in Snap Clone, it should be wholly located on flexvols or shares with Copy on Write enabled. Enterprise Manager performs the necessary validations for that.

Step 4: Creating the service template using the Profile
Finally, the Test Master needs to be exposed as a source of cloning to functional clones to self-service users. This is done by creating a provisioning profile. Provisioning Profile, in general, is an Enterprise Manager concept that denotes a gold image-whether in the form of a “tarball” archive or an RMAN backup or a Test Master.  The concept of profile makes the process repeatable by several users, such as QA testing different parts of the application.

The profile is exposed to the service catalog via a service template which also includes the provisioning procedure, pre and post scripts for deploying the image.

Finally, comes the user side experience
. Enterprise Manager supports a self-service model where users can provision databases without being gated by DBA. The self-service user can pick a service template (which indirectly via the provisioning profile links to the Test Master) , specify the zone where to deploy and the database gets provisioned.  This new database is actually a "thin clone" of the Test Master and new blocks will get allocated only when the data is updated. The user can also take backup the cloned database, which are essentially read-only snapshots of the database. If the user needs to restore the database the latest incarnation of the database is simply pointed to the snapshot, so that the restore is instantaneous. This literally enables the self-service user to go back in time, in a "time travel" fashion. In addition to provisioning and backup, self-service users can also monitor the databases-check their statuses, look at session statistics, etc.



Before concluding this blog entry, let me point to a bunch of collateral related to DBaaS that we recently published. Check out the new whitepaper, demos, and presentation. We will soon publish a technical whitepaper on performing E-Business Suite testing using Snap Clone. Till then...

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Sunday Feb 24, 2013

Oracle Enterprise Manager Introduces Key Enhancements for Deploying and Managing Clouds

It has been a little more than a year, since we released our first cloud management features as a part of Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c. As customers started adopting our solution for a broad spectrum of workloads including production, QA, and development needs, we gained invaluable experience into the various use cases and requirements. Based on that experience, Oracle has released new and updated Management Plug-ins that precisely address the above requirements, ultimately leading to faster time-to-market for IT services delivery. In addition to providing enhanced cloud management support, the plug-ins extend Enterprise Manager'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). See "New Plug-in Features" below for additional details.

NEW PLUG-IN FEATURES:

+ Database as a Service (DBaaS):

    A sophisticated Database as a Service solution needs to cater to a variety of use cases:
•    A developer or a project owner requiring a new database service  with or without seed data
•    QA requiring a full database refresh for intense load testing
•    QA requiring to create multiple clones for functional testing on subset of data

The current release of Oracle Enterprise Manager Cloud Control 12c offers new capabilities and support for managing database cloud services in all the above cases. It comes with out-of-box capabilities such as schema-as-a-service for extreme database consolidation and database cloning through Snap Clone or RMAN Backups. These capabilities provide an optimum utilization of development and database resources, giving customers more flexibility and control in managing the database lifecycle.

While some applications need dedicated databases, small home-grown applications can often share the database instance with other applications. Schema as a Service allows DBAs to consolidate multiple applications in the same database and offer logical slices of database to the end-users such as developers, thereby preventing database sprawl. They can enforce certain performance guarantee to these services by leveraging database Resource Manager, which prevents a particular user over-consuming the underlying compute resources.  End-users can therefore request schema services from the self-service application without stepping on one another. Schema as a Service significantly reduces the administrative and maintenance overhead since only a limited number of such databases need to be managed and patched.

Cloning databases got significantly easier with the new plug-in. A new feature called “Snap Clone” really makes it snappy (terabytes of data can be cloned in a matter of minutes). The feature helps clone a database by leveraging the underlying “Copy on Write” technology offered by storage technologies, such as Netapp and ZFS Storage Appliance. DBAs can set up a “test master” database by refreshing a production database and mark the “test master” as the source of functional clones. Self-service users can create multiple copies  of the test-master in minutes without consuming additional space beyond what’s needed to make localized updates. This can be really beneficial for applications where the testing is primarily read-only and is limited to a subset of the data. Users can also take backups (snapshots) of their database and “time travel” across snapshots to restore the database to an earlier incarnation in a matter of minutes.

For more involved testing, such as testing production loads with lots of updates, Oracle Enterprise Manager also supports a full clone using the RMAN technology.

The following picture highlights the various use cases of DBaaS that Oracle Enterprise Manager addresses. While each of these have specific applicability, Oracle Enterprise Manager handles all these use cases comprehensively.


+ Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): Oracle Enterprise Manager Cloud Control 12c has added support for building and managing Infrastructure as a Service clouds based on the latest Oracle VM 3.2.1 release. The updated kernel and enhanced storage management features in Oracle VM 3.2.1 make it an ideal foundation for building a secure, scalable, enterprise-class infrastructure cloud. The newly released Oracle Enterprise Manager Management Plug-ins for Oracle Virtualization and Oracle Cloud provide comprehensive support for setting up the cloud infrastructure, deploying Oracle virtual assemblies and Oracle VM templates, and monitoring and managing the health of the cloud.

+ Testing as a Service (TaaS): Any enterprise application needs extensive testing before changes are rolled into production. Testing is a time-consuming process, can take weeks owing to delays in provisioning the full application stack to run the test on. QA is often left waiting on IT to provide the infrastructure and platform and sometimes this wait itself can account for 50% of the total testing cycle. Currently, no integrated solution exists that handle the provisioning and testing phases of the overall testing process leading to significant process delays and poor efficiency.

Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c introduces Testing as a Service, a new cloud platform for delivering automated application testing services. A self-service solution designed for private clouds, TaaS orchestrates the testing process end-to-end by automating provisioning of complete test labs (applications, test tools and assets comprising scripts and scenarios), execution of load and functional tests and rich application monitoring and diagnostics. It also includes a sophisticated chargeback facility and the ability to perform deeper diagnostics in context of testing.

TaaS makes it possible to significantly reduce testing time and costs without compromising quality, and enables organizations to be more agile in delivering critical business applications. One can find more details on TaaS here.

Oracle Enterprise Manager’s cloud management features are also enabled through a set of powerful RESTful APIs, which are summarized in this presentation. These APIs can be consumed from custom or 3rd party orchestration frameworks. In the new release, one can also orchestrate these APIs using an Oracle Enterprise manager provided framework called Blueprints. Using Blueprints, one can orchestrate the provisioning of a multi-layered application (such as the one shown below). One can download the documentation and sample code for the blueprints from here.




+ New Management Plug-Ins:  The following new and updated plug-Ins are now available as part of this release. In addition to providing new and enhanced functionality as mentioned above, the plug-ins incorporate numerous bug fixes.


Plug-In Name / Version
*Enterprise Manager for Oracle Database (DB) 12.1.0.3 (new)
*Enterprise Manager for Oracle Virtualization (VT) 12.1.0.4 (new)
*Enterprise Manager Storage Management Framework (SMF) 12.1.0.1 (new)
*Enterprise Manager for Oracle Cloud (SSA) 12.1.0.5 (new)


Read More:

* New book: Building and Managing a Cloud Using Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c (Oracle Press)

*Cloud Management page on OTN

*Enterprise Manager 12c: Cloud Management Pack for DB Datasheet

*Enterprise Manager 12c: The Nerve Center of Oracle Cloud Technical White Paper

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