Tuesday Apr 28, 2015

EM Compliance ‘Required Data Available’ flag – Understanding and Troubleshooting

Overview

Starting in release 12.1.0.3 of Enterprise Manager a new column was added to the top level Compliance Standard Results page named ‘Required Data Available’. This column is meant to convey whether the data required for proper compliance evaluation of all of the rules within the Compliance Standard for each associated target is available in the repository. If the value for a given target is ‘No’ then the compliance results for that target should not be considered valid. A value of ‘Yes’ indicates the required configuration data is being collected and results valid; at least from a data availability perspective.

One challenge facing customers is the lack of understanding of the column and how to correct the cause of the ‘No’ status. The goal of this guide is to explain how this column’s value is derived and provide some tools to correct the situation.

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Wednesday Apr 22, 2015

Test Drive Oracle’s Application Platform as a Service Solution

We've just launched a new set of workshops in several U.S. cities: Oracle Platform as a Service for Application Development.

This follows the success of the Database as a Service workshop series (see previous blog entry). It’s another opportunity to test drive new Oracle Enterprise Manager capabilities, but it goes far beyond Enterprise Manager. This time we focus on Java development and testing in the private and public cloud, and the cloud operations needed to support them.

So bring your laptop, connect to our live environment and try it for yourself!

The day begins with an overview of APaaS benefits and the architectural choices for building your enterprise private or public cloud (or both). You then use step-by-step workbooks that guide you through creating an application platform / middleware cloud environment. The event is perfect for application developers, IT managers and anyone developing, testing and deploying Java applications.

The time is evenly split between private and public cloud labs. These are the workbooks we’ll go through:

  • Middleware as a Service
  • SOA as a Service
  • Fusion Middleware Provisioning
  • Creating and Exploring Java Cloud Service
  • Building and Deploying an Application with Java Cloud Service
  • Managing Java Cloud Service Operations

Looks interesting? Register for an event near you.

Monday Apr 13, 2015

New Enterprise Manager STIG Compliance Standards for Oracle Database 11gR2 Now Available

Last Friday, Oracle released new Enterprise Manager compliance standards based on DISA’s Security Technical Information Guide ( STIG ) for Oracle Database 11.2g Version 1 Release 2. These standards are specifically for use with Oracle Database 11g Release 2, both single instance and RAC.

This is actually the second compliance content update since February. The previous one included an update to the Oracle Database 11g STIG standard bringing support from Release 8 to 11.

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Monday Mar 16, 2015

Oracle Private Database Cloud: Defining Database Sizes in the Service Catalog

Latest release of cloud plug-in (part of EM12c R4 Plug-in Update 1) brings the ability to define sizes for database cloud services (Schema and PDB services already support definition of size). Prior to this ability, customers were required to define a new template for each size – small, medium, large, etc. This will help in significantly reducing the number of templates required.

So lets see how to use them.

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Discover and Promote Oracle Homes as EM Targets

Typically, Oracle Homes are discovered and promoted as targets automatically along with guided flows for addition of primary targets like databases, weblogic domains, etc, but there might be instances (not very often) where you need to discover the Homes standalone.

There are two ways to do this – from the GUI and using EMCLI verbs.

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Friday Feb 27, 2015

Oracle Private Database Cloud REST APIs

While we spend a lot of time developing GUI for our private cloud features – like the self service portal, setup screens, etc, a large percentage of our customers use these features via our APIs, both EMCLI and REST based.

Q: So why would anyone not use the out of the box cloud (self service) portal and use the APIs instead?

A: Well, there are many reasons:

  1. You already have a custom cloud portal that you use to deploy non-Oracle products and now you would like Oracle products to be part of it
  2. You want cloud related actions to be part of a larger orchestration flow. For example, prior to provisioning, you want to integrate an approval workflow, and then post-provision update your asset management system with the service details.
  3. You want to integrate the cloud actions with our IT service desk or ticketing systems
  4. Integrate actions like cloning of databases (Snap Clone), or provisioning of middleware and applications with your continuous integration or devops process.

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Wednesday Feb 25, 2015

Editing EM12c Jobs in Bulk

I recently received requests for suggestions on how to edit EM12c jobs in bulk. The two examples that were presented to me were:

  1. Change the start time of 70+ jobs
  2. Change the oracle home path in 80+ RMAN script jobs

So how do we do this?

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Tuesday Feb 24, 2015

Q&A: The Cloud Journey with Enterprise Manager

On last week's Enterprise Manager webcast, we had a great opportunity to catch up on the latest product news and hear how Enterprise Manager is helping companies transition to the cloud. We specifically focused on new capabilities around Platform as a Service for databases and middleware. You can still view the webcast on demand.

As a speaker on the webcast, I really enjoyed seeing the high number of questions in the text chat window - that's maybe the most fun part! Here are some of the questions & answers we had. (They've been slightly edited for clarity.) As always, you're welcome to comment via the blog.

Q: Do you recommend a DBA onsite or do you provide DBA support?
A: Either way. You can have your own DBA managing your database private cloud, or hire a consultant from Oracle or an Oracle partner. The important thing is that a DBA can support many more databases once users have self-service.

Q: Please explain provisioning of a schema in the database.
A: Schema as a Service allows you to deploy a schema and use it as if it were a separate DB - but with the benefits of consolidated management at the DB layer. In Database 12c, this is achieved using multi-tenant, pluggable DBs.

Q: What is Showback?
A: Showback is like chargeback, except that no money actually changes hands. IT is just showing the users how many resources they used.

Q: In Database Replay, does the workload run on an actual production-like environment, or is it just a simulation?
A: Database Replay allows you to replay the captured workload on the actual proposed environment. This is often useful for upgrade exercises and testing new configurations.

Q: Yes, but if consolidation is in planning stage, then the actual proposed environment won't be there. Are you talking about proposed environment in the cloud only?
A: Using Consolidation Planner, you can simulate the workload and arrive at the target environment requirement for a specific set of workloads. Also, using Real Application Testing and SQL Performance Analyzer, you can test using captured workloads and replay them. 

Q: Can EM provision MS SQL Server, and can EM provision in the Azure or Amazon cloud?
A: EM has no out of box capabilities for provisioning non-Oracle DBs. Current capabilities are focused on private cloud. Provisioning for public cloud is on the roadmap.

Q: Can you buy plugins for MS SQL Server?
A: Yes, plugins are available for non-Oracle DBs, including SQL Server, Sybase, DB2. The Oracle Extensibility Exchange on OTN has a list of available plugins from Oracle and from third party sources.

Q: I have a customer that wants to use Azure Pack as their provisioning UI. Can EM talk to Azure Pack in order to do this?
A: Yes, your customer can use Oracle Cloud APIs and build the relevant application for provisioning.

Q: So would Oracle Cloud APIs be an integration layer to Azure Pack?
A: You need to write your own code to integrate the Oracle private cloud solution into any third party solution.

Q: What's difference between full and snap clone?
A: As the names suggest, a full clone is a copy of the source database - it will occupy the same amount of space as the source. Snap Clone is a sparse copy of the source database, where the copy will occupy very little space on the disk as it uses copy-on-write storage technology.

Q: So Snap Clone only stores the changes and reads most data from the source?
A: Snap Clone stores only changes made in the clone copy. 

Q: In Snap Clone, what is the continuous refresh from production?
A: When you clone a database (typically from production to either a test or dev environment), there may be a need to refresh the clone on a regular basis.

Q: What is drift tracking?
A: Using the new configuration management features, you can define a configuration standard for your databases. If there is a deviation, you can get a report (typically called) drift analysis.

Q: What are some of the critical security-related configurations that you recommend for DB12c?
A: EM12c can be used to track and enforce compliance, including industry standards such as PCI or customer policies created and monitored by EM itself. 

Q; With self-service DBaaS, can the end user can update or upgrade the database or DB home?
A: The end user (Self Service User) can upgrade the database service that he/she created earlier. Only Cloud Admin can upgrade Oracle Homes.

Q: Can you explain this with an example?
A: The Cloud Admin will upgrade all Oracle Homes in a Pool to the next patchset release. Now, SSA users can subscribe to upgrade the database services they created. If SSA users do not do so by a certain time, the Cloud Admin can force-upgrade their databases.

Q: What is the difference between a hosting environment and a cloud?
A: Resource abstraction, metering, chargeback, self-service, and a few other things are industry-accepted characteristics of a cloud.

Q: Is dev/test in the public cloud, and production in the private cloud, the most common architecture?
A: It's definitely very common. Dev/test environments are often temporary in nature and that lends itself very well to public cloud.

Q: What's the difference between Exadata and Exalogic?
A: Both are Oracle hardware systems. Exadata is optimized for databases, whereas Exalogic is meant for Oracle middleware and applications.

Q: Thank you for answering all my questions. Great webcast!
A: Thanks so much! Glad we got the opportunity to share the news.

Wednesday Feb 18, 2015

Test Drive Oracle Enterprise Manager at a City Near You

Are you tired of watching product demos? Prefer to try products for yourself? Then this is for you.

Oracle is currently running a workshop series called Oracle Database as a Service Test Drives. You bring your laptop, connect to live Oracle Database 12c and Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c instances, and try our latest database cloud management solution for yourself.

The day begins with an overview of DBaaS benefits and the architectural choices for building your enterprise cloud (OK, the introduction is actually a PowerPoint presentation!) You then use a step-by-step workbook that guides you throughout the day through the steps of creating a database cloud environment. The event is perfect for DBAs, application developers, IT managers and anyone involved in private cloud deployments.

These are the workbooks we’ll go through:

  • Database as a Service using Snap Clone – self service
  • Database as a Service using pluggable databases (PDB) – self service
  • Database as a Service setup for cloud administrators
  • Cloud management – chargeback and metering
  • Database consolidation testing with Real Application Testing
  • Database lifecycle management with Enterprise Manager 

Looks interesting? Register for an event near you.

Wednesday Feb 11, 2015

Webcast: Accelerate Your Cloud Journey With Enterprise Manager (February 17)

Webcast: Accelerate Your Cloud Journey

On February 17, join us for a webcast about the journey to the cloud with Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c. (If you can't make it, you can watch the webcast later on demand.)

Last month, Oracle announced a new release of Enterprise Manager with many new cloud management capabilities, especially around Database as a Service and Middleware as a Service. This is a good opportunity to learn how the new capabilities fit into the overall cloud story.

On the agenda:

  • The Cloud Journey
  • Private Cloud Platform as a Service
  • Making the Journey with Enterprise Manager 12c
  • Customer Case Studies
  • Looking Ahead: The Hybrid Cloud

Register here

Monday Feb 02, 2015

Snap Clone using EMC SAN and ASM

Recently we announced the latest update to Enterprise Manager Cloud Control 12c Release 4.  One of the enhancements in that release is support for Snap Clone on Automatic Storage Management (ASM) and EMC Storage.  Before we examine the details of this specific enhancement, let's look at a quick refresher on what Snap Clone provides for you.

What is Snap Clone?

Snap Clone is a storage agnostic and self service approach to creating rapid and space efficient clones of large databases (and by large, we’re talking terabytes or more). Now that’s probably more buzz words in one sentence than anyone’s brain can deal with without exploding, so let’s explain some of those terms more:
  • Storage agnostic – by that I mean Snap Clone supports all storage vendors, both NAS and SAN. It can leverage storage layer APIs or layer a ZFS filesystem on top to provide copy on write.
  • Self service – in the XaaS world – where X can be any of I, MW, P and DB :) – one of the key features is empowering the end user to do the work, rather than waiting on some techie to find time in their otherwise busy schedules. So it’s the end user who makes the adhoc clones here, not the storage admin
  • Rapid – People simply don’t have the time to wait weeks for provisioning to happen any more, so you have to support the functionality to clone databases in minutes rather than the days or weeks things used to take.
  • Space efficient – When you’re working with terabyte or larger databases, you simply may not have the storage to create full-sized clones, so you have to significantly reduce the storage footprint to start with.
Over the various EM releases,  more and more functionality has been added to Snap Clone:
  • EM12cR2 provided Snap Clone for NAS storage (NetApp and Sun ZFSSA).  It provided RMAN backup based clones, and included the Snap Clone Analyzer to show you the storage savings you could make using Snap Clone
  • EM12cR3 added in support for Snap Clone using the Solaris File System (ZFS) and admin flows for Snap Clone for PDB’s (pluggable databases)
  • EM12cR4 added a lot more:
    • Snap Clone using CloneDB – this is the biggie, as it means Snap Clone can now be used with ANY Oracle database release that supports CloneDB, regardless of what storage it’s on
    • Data Guard standby as a test master – allows offloading the impact of creating the test master from your Production environment
    • NetApp Ontap 8.x cluster mode support
    • Certification for engineered systems, with I/O over Infiniband
    • Support for NFSv4
  • And in the latest plugin update that's just been shipped, we added:
    • Integrated data lifecycle management
    • Snap Clone using EMC SAN and ASM
    • Admin flows for test master creation
    • Integration with masking, patching, upgrades etc.

Snap Clone using EMC SAN and ASM

Most NAS technologies offer storage efficient clones in the form of Snapshots. The snapshots make use of underlying volumes, knows as flexvols (Netapp) or shares (ZFS). Unfortunately, SAN storage does not provide native snapshotting capability unless a file is created on it by leveraging TCP/IP over iSCSI over Ethernet. However this defeats the purpose of having high speed fiber channel fabric, not to mention that it makes little sense to overlay SAN with a filesystem. Another complaint we heard from our customers is that cloning is a data intensive operation that could flood the corporate IT backbone if Ethernet is used. Consequently, lot of our customers want native support for SAN for cloning purposes, especially, the ones who run ASM on SAN. And they are quite a lot in number.

Using Snap Clone on ASM and EMC storage provides the ability to create ‘live’ thin clones of databases that are on ASM. A live clone is NOT snapshot based but rather a live copy of the database, residing on copy-on-write storage technology, that can be within the same cluster or indeed another one. Both single instance and RAC are supported – supported versions are 10.2.0.5 or higher of the database, 11.2 and higher of the Grid Infrastructure code. This functionality works on both EMC VMAX (with Time Finder VPSnap) and VNX storage appliances.

Diagrammatically, the configuration looks like this:



Why Use Snap Clone with EMC SAN and ASM

There are a number of major challenges that Snap Clone can be used to address:
  1. Lack of automation - Manual tasks such as provisioning and cloning of new databases (for example, for test or development systems) is one area that many DBA’s complain is too time consuming. It can take days to weeks, often because of the need to coordinate the involvement of different groups, as shown in the image below:

  2. When an end user, be it a developer or a QA engineer, needs a database he or she typically has to go through an approval process like this, which then translates into a series of tasks for the DBA, the sysadmin and storage admin. The sysadmin has to provide the compute capacity while the storage admin has to provide the space on a filer. Finally, the DBA would install the bits, create the database (optionally on Real Application Clusters), and deliver that to the user. Clearly, this is a cumbersome and time-consuming process that needs to be improved on.

  3. Database unfriendly solutions – Obviously, when there is a need looking for a solution, different people take different approaches to solving that need. There are a variety of point solutions and storage solutions out there, but the vast bulk of them are not database aware. They tend to clone storage volumes rather than databases and have no visibility into the database stack, which of course makes it hard to triage performance issues as a DBA. They also lack the ability to track configuration, compliance and data security issues, as well as having limited or no lifecycle capabilities. As mentioned before, DBAs would like to leverage the native FDDI protocol of SAN for cloning.  This will make cloning fast and efficient without disrupting regular network traffic.

  4. Storage issues and archaic processes – Of course, one of the main issues is storage. Data volumes are ever increasing, particularly in these Big Data days, and the growth can often outpace your storage capacity. You can throw more disks at the problem, but it never seems to be enough, and you can end up with degraded performance if you take the route of sharing clones between users. There can also be different processes and different priorities between the storage team and the DBA team, and you may still have fixed refresh cycles, making it difficult to clone on an adhoc basis.
So the end result of all of this is that far too often, there are competing priorities at odds. Users want flexibility – simplified self service access, rapid cloning, and the ability to revert data changes. IT, on the other hand, want standardization and control, which allows a reduction in storage use, reduction in administrative overhead, visibility into the complete database stack and lineage tracking.  

Snap Clone on EMC storage helps you to address all these competing priorities, using hardware you may already own.  Indeed, EMC is well established as an Oracle database storage vendor over many years, and that integration has become tighter and tighter over the past few years.  In addition to that, the actual setup and configuration can be simpler than is the case when using other hardware, as you do not need to create Database Profiles in this configuration.  Service Templates are created directly on either a single instance or RAC database that resides on ASM.  Because you're using this combination of ASM and EMC SAN storage, the database is already Snap Clone enabled as it resides on copy-on-write storage technology.

In my next post, I'll discuss more details of what else is new in the Snap Clone product in this latest release, so stay tuned for more details on that soon!

For More Information

You can see more details on how you actually set Snap Clone up on EMC storage by viewing the following screenwatches:

For more details on using Enterprise Manager Cloud Control 12c to provide Database as a Service functionality, visit the OTN page located here.

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Tuesday Jan 13, 2015

New Enterprise Manager Release Delivers Adaptive Private PaaS

We are pleased to announce an update to Oracle Enterprise Manager Cloud Control 12c Release 4. The update is now available on OTN.

So what exactly is adaptive private PaaS?

Recent releases of Enterprise Manager have expanded capabilities around Platform as a Service (PaaS) delivery in your private cloud. In particular, the EM Cloud Management Packs have focused on two critical areas for Oracle customers: Database as a Service (DBaaS) and Middleware as a Service (MWaaS).

In this release, these PaaS capabilities have become more adaptive to complex, rapidly growing environments. Let's look at 3 areas where database and middleware users and managers will benefit.

Controlling Expanding Database as a Service Environments

Rapid adoption of database as a service can lead to even faster growth in the number of database instances and the number of database versions and configurations. This can severely impact your management costs and could even cripple your database as a service initiative. The new release enhances our solution to this problem:
  • Configuration standardization with integrated advisory, to detect differences across databases and eliminate configuration drift
  • Database fleet patching using minimum downtime techniques, to bring database configurations back into compliance
  • Rules for custom placement, to intelligently find a suitable target for database placement, based on current load, current population and placement constraints

A database as a service approach can improve service to database users while simultaneously reducing database management costs. 

Developing More Rapidly, with Increased Security

Agile application development and testing requires convenient access to up-to-date test data. The Enterprise Manager Snap Clone feature gives DBAs, developers and QA engineers direct access to self-service cloning, so they can create fully functional copies of production databases within minutes. This release introduces several exciting new Snap Clone capabilities:
  • Continuous data refresh from the source database. As your production system gets updated, you can continuously refresh your test data.
  • Integrated data masking, subsetting and patching. Use the Enterprise Manager Data Masking and Subsetting Pack together with Snap Clone to keep your test databases lean and free of sensitive information, and keep them up to date with the latest PSUs and patch sets.
  • Restore a database to a previous point in time with a convenient calendar view.
  • Snap Clone support on EMC VMAX and VNX Block Storage. This adds to Snap Clone's native support for Oracle ZFS Storage Appliance and NetApp Storage Appliance in addition to generic support of other storage systems.
Software developers can also take advantage of new test-to-production (and reverse) cloning of SOA, OSB and WebCenter environments with application artifacts automation.

Flexible APaaS Service Catalogs

If you're providing middleware (e.g. an application platform) as a service to application developers, you now have additional ways to adapt these services to developers' needs.
  • More APaaS catalog options. In addition to Java apps and WebLogic Server, you can offer SOA, OSB and WebCenter in your self-service portal for easy, template-based provisioning.
  • Updated REST API support for new service catalog options, for easy integration with 3rd party orchestration tools and service desks.
  • Sharing of service instances among self-service users, for an efficient, consolidated platform on which to provision middleware services.
For a more comprehensive list of updates, please visit Database as a Service and Middleware as a Service on OTN. In addition, we will post several articles about the new DBaaS and MWaaS capabilities on this blog over the next few weeks.

Tuesday Nov 25, 2014

Monitoring NFS mounted file systems using EM12c

A customer recently asked me how they could monitor and alert against all the NFS mounted file systems across their datacenter. Here is a quick guide to do the same.

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Monday Nov 24, 2014

Download Urls for Self Update Entities in Offline Mode

Many enterprises run their EM 12c environments in the offline mode (no direct internet connection). These customers have the additional task of downloading the plug-ins, connectors, agents, etc on a machine with access to internet, and then upload them to EM. The current solution makes the task of fetching the download url rather cumbersome, so in this blog i discuss a quick hack to list all download urls for plug-ins and agents.

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Thursday Nov 13, 2014

Will the REAL Snap Clone functionality please stand up?

Possibly one of the least known pieces of functionality that is provided as part of the Enterprise Manager Cloud Control 12c product suite is the Snap Clone product. In simple terms, Snap Clone is a storage agnostic self service approach to rapidly creating space efficient clones of large databases (and by large, we're talking terabytes or more).  I blogged on that a few months back, but a few months can be an eternity in software development terms, so here's an update that covers not just the functionality in the product but also addresses some of the misleading statements some of our competitors have been making about it of recent times.
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