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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Tuesday Mar 12, 2013

WEBCAST: Delivering Database as a Service with Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c


Thursday March 14
10:00 a.m. PST / 1:00 p.m. EST

Join us for a live Webcast to find out about the recently released Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c plug-ins that deliver new capabilities and support for managing database cloud services with schema as a service for extreme database consolidation and quick efficient database cloning through Snap Clone or RMAN Backups. These new capabilities provide an optimum utilization of development and database resources giving customers more flexibility and control during application development, leading to a faster time-to-market for delivering IT services.

Register Now!

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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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    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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    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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    Wednesday Feb 27, 2013

    Oracle Enterprise Manager Cloud Control 12c Release 2 Plug-In Update 1 Installation and Upgrade Overview

    Oracle Enterprise Manager Cloud Control 12c Release 2 Plug-In Update 1 Installation and Upgrade Overview

    Friday, March 01, 9:00 a.m. PT

    Register Now

    Join us for this live technical presentation to learn about Oracle Enterprise Manager Cloud Control 12c Release 2 Plug-in Update 1 release and how it impacts you. This webcast is a must-attend event for users who have EM 12.1.0.x in their environment or are planning to deploy EM 12.1.0.x or upgrade to EM 12.1.0.x from older Enterprise Manager versions.

    Oracle has recently released new and updated Enterprise Manager Plug-ins which enables optimum utilization of compute resources giving customers more flexibility and control during application development, leading to faster time-to-market for delivering IT services. These plug-in provide enhanced support and extend EM's capabilities for Database as a Service (DBaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), and introduce new features for Testing as a Service (TaaS).

    During this presentation we will review the following topics:

    • Overview of Enterprise Manager Cloud Control 12c Release 2 Plug-in Update 1
      • Does it have new features or bug fixes?
      • How do I get EM 12c Release 2 Plug-in Update 1 binaries?
      • Various Install/Upgrade/Additional OMS Usecases
      • What happens to Agent Binaries?
      • Go over Install/Upgrade FAQ on EM 12c Release 2 Plug-in Update 1
    • Quick overview of new version /revision of plug-ins
    • How to deploy new plug-in in your existing EM 12.1.0.x environment
      • In Offline or Online mode
      • Using emcli to reduce OMS downtime
    • Documentation
    • Q&A

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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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    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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    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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    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:

    Have a database manageability question? Ask us on Twitter or Facebook.


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    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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    Thursday Oct 25, 2012

    WEBCAST: Strategies for Managing the Oracle Database Lifecycle


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

    Join us for a live Webcast and see how Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c makes database lifecycle management easier. You’ll learn how to:

    • Simplify database configurations thanks to extensive automation for discovery and change detection
    • Improve IT service levels with Oracle’s next-generation database patching and provisioning automation
    • Ensure consistency and compliance with comprehensive database change management
    Register today.


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