Tuesday Apr 08, 2014

Consolidated Database Replay: Playing Nice Together

Here is a great article from resident Oracle ACE, Arup Nada, who details insight into predicting the impact of consolidating separate database workloads into one. The article outlines a typical consolidation scenario and explains how Oracle Real Application Testing's Consolidated Database Replay capabilities can help measure the impact of the workload consolidation. A must read for those considering a consolidation project in the near future. Read the article.


Database work load patterns of two applications.


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Friday Apr 04, 2014

Webcast: Database Cloning in Minutes using Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c Database as a Service Snap Clone

April 10 — 7:00 a.m. PT | 10:00 a.m. ET | 4:00 p.m. CET
April 24 — 10:00 a.m. PT | 1:00 p.m. ET
May 8 — 7:00 a.m. PT | 10:00 a.m. ET | 4:00 p.m. CET
May 22 — 10:00 a.m. PT | 1:00 p.m. ET

Since the demands from the business for IT services is non-stop, creating copies of production databases in order to develop, test and deploy new applications can be labor intensive and time consuming. Users may also need to preserve private copies of the database, so that they can go back to a point prior to when a change was made in order to diagnose potential issues. Using Snap Clone, users can create multiple snapshots of the database and “time travel” across these snapshots to access data from any point in time.

Join us for an in-depth technical webcast and learn how Oracle Cloud Management Pack for Oracle Database's capability called Snap Clone, can fundamentally improve the efficiency and agility of administrators and QA Engineers while saving CAPEX on storage. Benefits include:

  • Agile provisioning (~ 2 minutes to provision a 1 TB database)
  • Over 90% storage savings
  • Reduced administrative overhead from integrated lifecycle management

Register Now!


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Wednesday Apr 02, 2014

Cloud Odyssey in London

The Cloud Odyssey event happened in London recently. Here is the Storify from the event. Enjoy!

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Tuesday Apr 01, 2014

Managing Pluggable Database as a Service: Questions and Answers

Since the launch of Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c Release 3, we have received tons of questions around managing Oracle Multitenant, an Oracle Database 12c Enterprise Edition option, and pluggable databases (PDBs)—more specifically; questions about pluggable database as a service (PDBaaS). In this blog, we provide answers to some of the common questions from people.

Question: What qualifies a database to be pluggable?
Answer: A pluggable database must be a current Oracle Database 12c database, configured for multitenant through a new enterprise edition option called Oracle Multitenant. It delivers a new architecture that allows a multitenant container database (CDB) to hold many pluggable databases (PDBs). An Oracle Database in the old architecture (a “non-CDB”) may be upgraded to the multitenant architecture via a simple process known as “adopting the non-CDB as a PDB”. A PDB is a self-contained, fully functional Oracle Database, and includes its own system, sysaux and user tablespaces. You can learn more about Oracle Multitenant and pluggable database in this whitepaper.

Can the pluggable databases be plugged and unplugged across multiple platforms such as Solaris, AIX, and Linux?
The pluggable database must be endian compatible. Cross endian operations require OGG, Data pump or restore from backup.

In terms of database consolidation, what are the differences between using VMs, dedicated schemas and pluggable databases?
To describe the advantages of using pluggable database vs. other consolidation methods, it can be best illustrated in a simply comparison table.


Comparison of Database as a Service Consolidation Models

Pluggable database combines the best of all the other models and offers excellent consolidation, isolation, manageability and is suitable for any application that is certified to run on Oracle Database 12c. With the other models, we see certain shortcomings. For example, server virtualization offers good isolation but creates compliance and administrative headaches. Schema based consolidation offers ease of management and patching, but limited isolation.

How do you track configuration drift with a pluggable database? I certainly understand drift in the container database, but in what ways would a pluggable database drift from its standard baseline?
This pertains to Configuration Drift Tracking via Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c. One can compare any two Enterprise Manager targets or a complete system such as an Oracle Exadata Database Machine. When you compare at the PDB level, they can differ in the tablespace names, the storage settings of tablespace with same name, or users, etc. Using Oracle Enterprise Manager to track drift, it is particularly useful in comparing difference in your development, testing, and production environments. It is even useful for comparing your standby systems to set standards for compliance requirements.

What is a zone? Is it physical? Regional?
The Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c Cloud resource model involves pooling the same target types where it’s combining similar hosts, databases, hardware or other similar resources in to a zone. Zones can therefore be defined by the boundary of the Cloud and exposed through Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c’s self-service portal. In terms of the pluggable database as a service model, you can create Oracle Multitenant container databases and group them to form a database pool that users can then draw from. When the self-service user provisions a pluggable database, they need to simply specify the Zone where they want to deploy. Internally, Oracle Enterprise Manager uses load or configuration driven algorithms to place the PDB in the right CDB.

What will be the DBA and SYSADMIN role in the pluggable DBaaS environment?
With pluggable databases you have common users and local users as well as common roles and associated privileges and local roles and associated privileges. You can isolate user/role/privilege to the PDB by defining only local user/role/privilege. To leverage the manage many as one, you would define common user/role/privilege to act on all PDBs or a subset of PDBs where the common user has create session privileges within the PDB. You would define DBA roles and SYSADMIN roles based on common and/or local user roles.

What if you need custom configurations on a pluggable database? Once the database is deployed via self-service how do you make changes?
Some parameters are modifiable at the PDB level. You would check v$parameter ISPDB_MODIFIABLE value to determine what can be changed. Some customization can be done at the CDB level; however, they would affect all PDBs for that CDB. Oracle Enterprise Manager’s self-service provides a TNS Connect string to connect to the PDB with the right privilege and execute “ALTER SYSTEM” for the parameters that are permissible to change.

If I'm an application developer and I request a database with a certain pre-defined service level, what level of permissions should I expect with that database? Am I getting DBA or SYSDBA privileges with that request?
It depends on what was negotiated as part of the service definition and associated user/role/privileges defined for that service.

Are the pluggable database as a service capabilities for Oracle Database 12c included in Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c? Do we need a plug-in? Do we need to license Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c Database Management Packs?
You need the Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c database and cloud plug-ins. License-wise; the self-service provisioning from Oracle Enterprise Manager is licensed as part of Cloud Management Pack for Database. The Oracle Multitenant option must be licensed if two or more PDBs are plugged into a single CDB.
Watch this short demo called “Using Pluggable Database as a Service (PDBaaS) Self-Service Portal” for a better understanding of deploying PDBaaS using Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c.

Which Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c Management Packs are required to be able to provide DBaaS?
You need the Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c Cloud Management Pack for Database and Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c Lifecycle Management Pack for Database to do database as a service. Both of which must be licensed.

If you have shared memory and background processes in the container database, how do you allocate server resources to a particular pluggable database? Can you assign specific amount of CPU cycles, RAM and IOPS for a given pluggable database?
SQL execution is scoped to the PDB as identified by the con_id created during session create. In Oracle Database 12c, Resource Manager (RM) has been extended to include support for Oracle Multitenant. Policies may be defined at the PDB level in terms of the simple-yet-powerful concepts of “caps” and “shares” to determine the allocation of resources between PDBs. In this way, resource manager can control allocation of CPU, sessions and parallel execution servers. Additionally, on Oracle Exadata, Resource Manager can also manage IO and network. Memory management currently is implicitly managed through SGA LRU algorithms and CPU share management.

What is the largest number of pluggable databases you can deploy on Oracle Exadata?
Currently the PDB limit per CDB is 252 PDBs. In Oracle Real Application Clusters environments such as Oracle Exadata, the density of PDB consolidation greatly increases as you may have multiple CDBs per physical server and 252 PDBs per CDB. The maximum limit would be bound by compute resource constraints/limits. And as mentioned in the question on Zone, Oracle Enterprise Manager gives an ability to combine multiple CDBs into a Pool and handle transparent placement. The Oracle Enterprise Manager self-service user therefore won’t be exposed to the underlying limit.

Can I use pluggable database as a service if the target database is 9i or 10g?
You would need to migrate the Oracle Database 9i, 10g and 11g databases to Oracle Database 12c non-CDB and convert them into pluggable databases. The architectural changes within Oracle Database 12c are not backward compatible.

Can Active Data Guard be configured for selective pluggable databases from a container database? I do not want all pluggable databases to have a standby.
In the current release, Oracle Active Data Guard operates at the container level, however, PDB annotations are tagged in the redo stream, so PDB operations on the primary are reflected on the standby.

Does RMAN support pluggable databases?
Scheduled backups are at the CDB layer and include all PDBs. Ad-hoc backups can be executed on individual PDBs. Individual PDBs can be restored from backup.

For complete details of managing pluggable database as a service, be sure to watch this webcast: Delivering Pluggable Database as a Service

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Monday Mar 31, 2014

Munhowen to Reduce Maintenance Costs and TCO by More Than 50 Percent

Munhowen, a leading Luxembourg beverage distributor, decided to replace its existing IT environment. By selecting Oracle technology, including Oracle Real Application Clusters, Oracle Enterprise Manager, Oracle Linux and Oracle ZFS Storage Appliances, the company was able to enhance system performance and reduce maintenance costs associated with sustaining an optimal hardware environment.

Jean-Pierre Rasquin, CIO, Munhowen, explains: “Implementing Oracle Real Application Clusters, Oracle Enterprise Manager, and Oracle ZFS Storage Appliance helped us to significantly increase our IT environment’s availability, scalability, and manageability—providing superior support, tailored to our business needs, while helping us to reduce maintenance costs.” Read the press release.

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Friday Mar 28, 2014

Oracle Database 2 Day + Performance Tuning Guide

Great Resource for Learning Oracle Database 12c and Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c

The guide includes coverage of Oracle Diagnostics Pack and Oracle Tuning Pack features such as Automatic Database Diagnostic Monitor (ADDM), Active Session History (ASH) Analytics, SQL Tuning Advisor, Real-time SQL Monitoring and more. Download the PDF or HTML verision.

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Thursday Mar 27, 2014

Cisco Improves Service Quality with Self-Managing Automation

Learn how Cisco improves its database application service delivery using Oracle Enterprise Manager.


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Wednesday Mar 26, 2014

Infographic: Database Manageability—Getting Ahead of the Curve

As a DBA, getting ahead of the demands of the job are challenging enough, day in and day out. A recent IOUG survey on database management sheds new light on some of the top challenges facing administrators. Here's an infographic breakdown on what you need to know.

Download the IOUG Survey.

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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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Friday Feb 14, 2014

WEBCAST: Accelerate Database Testing for Improved Agility

Accelerate Database Testing for Improved Agility and Cost Savings


Wednesday, February 26, 2014
10:00 AM PST | 1:00 PM EST


Join us in a webcast to learn how Oracle Real Application Testing—an Oracle Database 12c, Enterprise Edition option and Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c—work together to provide an easy-to-use solution for making changes to your mission-critical database. Learn from Oracle experts about the new Oracle Real Application Testing capability, SQL Performance Analyzer (SPA) Quick Check. It lets DBAs run quick validations on production databases for any system change.

Discover how SPA Quick Check helps to:

  • Safely test and deploy system changes using real workloads
  • Test consolidation scenarios for better resource management
  • Improve the quality of service for business agility and uptime
  • Reduce administrative effort and risks for database changes

Register now.

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Thursday Feb 13, 2014

Steps to Fast Track your Database Cloud implementation on Exadata

Oracle Exadata Database Machine is the ideal consolidation platform for Enterprise Database Cloud and Oracle Enterprise Manager provides the most optimized and comprehensive solution to rapidly setup, manage and deliver Enterprise Clouds. Clearly, very significant innovations have been delivered via Exadata X4, Enterprise Manager 12c and Database 12c in Cloud Computing space and customers can start realizing benefits from this combination of most powerful and unique enterprise database cloud solution in industry.

As per OracleVoice blog on Forbes.com:  "Why Database As A Service (DBaaS) Will Be The Breakaway Technology of 2014":

"Database as a Service (DBaaS) is arguably the next big thing in IT. Indeed, the market analysis firm 451 Research projects an astounding 86% cumulative annual growth rate, with annual revenues from DBaaS providers rising from $150 million in 2012 to $1.8 billion by 2016."

In this blog post, I will walk through the steps aiming to simplify DBaaS Setup on Exadata and also describe automation kits available to achieve the following rapidly -

  • Setup Monitoring and Management of Exadata Database Machine platform in EM 12c
  • Setup and Deliver DBaaS on Exadata using EM 12c
  • Manage and Optimize Exadata and EM 12c powered DBaaS cloud platform on an ongoing basis



There are 2 separate automation kits that are provided with EM 12c, first kit is for enabling rapid monitoring and management setup of Exadata stack in EM 12c and second kit is for rapid setup of DBaaS -

1) Deploy EM 12c site or use existing site - If you do not have existing EM 12c R3 setup, you can use EM Automation Kit for Exadata for installing EM 12c R3 Plug-in update 1. This kit is available via patch 17036016 on My Oracle Support(MOS) and can be used to deploy EM 12c latest release. Refer to Readme of patch and MOS note "Obtaining the Oracle Enterprise Manager Setup Automation kit for Exadata (Doc ID 1440951.1)" for additional details. Please note that this will setup EM12c Oracle Management Service along with Management Repository. It can be deployed on a single m/c or OMS and OMR can be setup on different machines.

2) Deploy EM 12cR3 agents and required plug-ins on Exadata Machine - Agent kit is also part of the same EM Automation Kit for Exadata and can be used for deploying agents and plug-ins on Exadata stack. Refer to MOS note "Obtaining the Oracle Enterprise Manager Setup Automation kit for Exadata (Doc ID 1440951.1)" for additional details. Best practice is to use most recent version of Agent kit and also deploy latest plug-ins. Patch details for respective platform are described in the MOS note.

Agent kit script will require Java 1.6.0_43 or greater version on database node where this script is being run. Agent kit script will need to be run as root OS user on Exadata db node, however JAVA_HOME and PATH with JAVA_HOME/bin should be set up as agent OS owner, so these OS env variables need to setup in profile of agent OS owner.

Agent Automation kit helps with achieving following -

  • EMCLI setup on Exadata Server
  • EM 12c R3 site compatibility checks
  • Setup and remove SSH between Exadata nodes to test SSH setup
  • Deploy EM 12c Agent and required Plugins on all DB Nodes of Exadata Machine
  • Confirm Exachk tool availability and run Exachk tool
  • Run Exadata Discovery Prerequisites
  • Discover Targets Cluster, Grid Infrastructure, RAC database and listener targets

Note - In case of Exadata X4, ensure you have the EM 12cR3 latest Bundle patch(released in January 2014). Refer to following MOS notes -
Enterprise Manager 12.1.0.3 Bundle Patch Master Note (Doc ID 1572022.1)
Enterprise Manager for Exadata Plug-in 12cR3 Bundle Patch Bug List (Doc ID 1613177.1)

3) Discover Grid Infrastructure and RAC targets – Above setup script will discover Targets Cluster, Grid Infrastructure, RAC database and listener targets. Discover Grid Infrastructure, ASM and RAC targets manually if required.

4) Please note that this setup script will not discover Oracle Exadata Database machine target in EM 12c. You need to discover the machine using following steps

  • From the Setup menu, select Add Targets, then select “Add targets Manually”.
  • In the “Add Targets Manually” page, select 'Add Targets Using Guided Process (Also Adds Related Targets)' and Target Type as Oracle Exadata Database Machine.
  • Click Add Using Guided Discovery and follow the wizard.


5) Setup Database Cloud Using Rapid Start Kit - Once you have setup Exadata management in EM 12c, next step is to setup database cloud. Refer to Rapid Start Kit for setting up cloud for both DBaaS and Pluggable DBaaS/PDBaaS. This kit will help achieve the following -

  • Create Cloud Admin, SSA Admin and SSA User custom roles
  • Create Cloud Admin, SSA Admin and SSA Users
  • Grant Quota to SSA User custom roles
  • Setup Zones with Placement Policy Constraints
  • Setup Pools with Placement Constraints
  • Setup Service Template/Catalog and grant it SSA User custom roles.

Here are brief steps for setting up Database Cloud using Rapid start Kit, available in EM Agent Kit 12.1.0.3.0, after login to Exadata machine first DB node as EM 12c agent owner

  • Change to <location where Agent kit is unzipped>/cloudsetup directory.
  • Review the input files under config directory and customize the dbaas_cloud_input.xml for configuring DBaaS cloud and pdbaas_cloud_input.xml for configuring Pluggable Database as a Service.
  • Run the following command to setup DBaaS on Exadata Machine.
<EMCLI Home>/emcli login -username=sysman
<EMCLI Home>/emcli @exadata_cloud_setup.py –dbaas
Above command will use dbaas_cloud_input.xml (under cloudsetup/config) as input file for configuring DBaaS. 
  • To setup PDBaaS on Exadata, please use following command.
<EMCLI Home>/emcli @exadata_cloud_setup.py –pdbaas
Above command will use pdbaas_cloud_input.xml (under cloudsetup/config) as input file for configuring PDBaaS

Note: Currently Rapid Start kit for DBaaS makes use of 11.2.0.3.0 Database "Exadata Data Warehouse" Profile available out-of-box. However you can create your own DBCA based Profiles and customize the dbaas_cloud_input.xml. Also if you need to use RMAN backup based or Snap clone based profile, you can to login to EM12c SSA Portal as SSA Administrator, to create the profile and setup service template. 

At this stage, you will be able to manage and deliver your Exadata powered enterprise database cloud using EM 12c.

Additional References:

Obtaining the Oracle Enterprise Manager Setup Automation kit for Exadata (Doc ID 1440951.1)

Oracle® Enterprise Manager Cloud Administration Guide12c Release 3 (12.1.0.3)

Oracle® Enterprise Manager Exadata Management Getting Started Guide Release 12.1.0.5.0


Friday Feb 07, 2014

VIDEO: Nationwide Deploys Database Applications 600% Faster

Watch the latest Nationwide video to see how they saved administrative time and effort using Oracle Enterprise Manager.



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Thursday Jan 30, 2014

Oracle Enterprise Manager Helps Manage Systems for Gaia Mission

The Italian National Institute of Astrophysics (INAF) has selected Oracle to store, analyze and manage scientific data generated from the European Space Agency's Gaia mission. The mission sets out to provide in-depth 3-D mapping of the Milky Way galaxy over the course of the next 5 years. An estimated 1 petabyte of astronomical data (equivalent to 1 million gigabytes) will be collected and stored in Oracle Database with Oracle Enterprise Manager entrusted to manage the system.

The goal of the Gaia mission will give researchers a better understanding into how the Milky Way was formed and how it has evolved over time. According to Roberto Morbidelli, Scientific Operation Manager at INAF, "Our activity within the Gaia mission will provide a huge volume of information, a very precious heritage of astronomical data that will have to be stored for the whole 21st century and beyond. Oracle has demonstrated in other research contexts that it would be the ideal technological partner to manage scientific projects of this kind of size. Thus we are sure that it will be a successful choice for INAF too. Oracle has been selected for its technology’s reliability, scalability, availability and the appropriate technological evolution planned in the next years; also key was the competence showed by Oracle experts in the development of features useful to our research.”

Oracle Enterprise Manager will be deployed to help manage the multiple Oracle Database instances and Oracle Real Application Clusters. Oracle Enterprise Manager will be used to ensure reliable access to Gaia mission data, allowing for numerous third-party applications and systems that control and verify the correct functioning of satellites and astronomical instruments.

“We are proud to offer our technology to the Gaia mission, an international research project that is of both major importance and high ambition,” said Xavier Verhaeghe, Vice President, Technology & Big Data Oracle EMEA. “INAF’s choice is another confirmation of Oracle’s ability to easily manage the extreme challenges involved in processing petabytes of Big Data."

Follow the Gaia Mission on Facebook.
Read the press release.


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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)

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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