Monday Sep 15, 2014

The Countdown is on—12 Days to Go!

Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c @ Oracle OpenWorld 2014

Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c, in its fourth year, has seen record levels of customer adoption. We are excited to showcase many of these customers throughout our OpenWorld activities, sessions, hands-on labs and DEMOgrounds this year.

With Oracle Enterprise Manager's large presence at OpenWorld, we've provided a variety of resources that you can use to follow all the Oracle Enterprise Manager activities and events.

Highlights:

  • Unprecedented number of customer sessions with over 50 presenting or co-presenting this year.
  • Full-day track on Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c at the Sunday User Group Forum sponsored by the IOUG.
  • General Session and over 40 Oracle-authored track-sessions on Oracle Enterprise Manager.
  • 19 Dedicated Oracle Enterprise Manager demopods in the Oracle DEMOgrounds.
  • 13 Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c hands-on labs providing deep-dive experience led by Oracle experts.

For the complete list of sessions, demos and hands-on labs, read the Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c Focus on Doc for more.



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Tuesday Sep 09, 2014

Express Scripts Automates IT with Oracle Enterprise Manager

Express Scripts, the largest pharmacy benefit management organization in the United States, automates its database services using Oracle Enterprise Manager's centralized management solution. Watch the video.



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Wednesday Aug 27, 2014

Demo: Consolidation Planner

Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c Consolidation Planner is a great tool that helps you plan and consolidate multiple targets on to a single machine such as Oracle Exadata. This solution helps you visualize what you have running in your environment and where you can take advantage of consolidation in order to maximize resources and lower IT operational costs. Watch the demo below to get a better understand of how Consolidation Planner works.


Want to learn more, read the Consolidation Planner documentation.


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Tuesday Aug 26, 2014

Q&A: Oracle's Andrew Sutherland on Managing the Entire Oracle Stack with Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c

As senior vice president of middleware for Oracle in Europe, Dr. Andrew Sutherland has more than 20 years’ experience in emerging technologies and their application to business problems. Currently, he manages a team of architects, business development managers, and technical specialists who help customers make the best use of their investments in Oracle technologies.

Given his breadth and depth of experience, we decided to ask Sutherland how Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c Release 4 is helping the Oracle customers he works with.

Q. What makes Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c different from competitors' offerings?
A. Oracle Enterprise Manager's approach is unique in that it manages across the entire Oracle stack, from applications, middleware, and the database all the way down to servers and storage. That means it can truly unlock the value of the entire Oracle stack.

Q. What is the payoff for organizations that adopt such a comprehensive approach?
A. Our customers are able to manage the entire Oracle estate in the most cost-effective way possible by automating many of their day-to-day tasks. To give you an idea of its scope, many of our customers have made sure that Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c’s dashboard is available to their senior IT management team. They use it to ensure that all parts of their IT stack are delivering what they should be delivering, when they should be delivering it.

Perhaps most important of all, Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c enables organizations to move beyond the old paradigm of multiple independent IT stacks to offer infrastructure as a service and platform as a service.

Q. As someone who helps customers make the most of their investment in Oracle technology, what do you find most promising about Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c Release 4?
A. There are three key areas that are especially exciting. First, it provides an accelerated path to the cloud. Whether you are building a small, medium, or large private cloud within your organization, it provides the tools you need to make it happen, from designing the cloud to provisioning and testing.

Secondly, this release provides monitoring and management tools that go both deeper into the stack and wider across components within the stack. That means an even more comprehensive dashboard.

Finally Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c Release 4 offers true enterprise-grade management. With the growth of social and mobile connectivity, the need for a highly performant and robust stack is more prominent than ever. And Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c is there to do exactly that: manage true, enterprise-grade IT deployments.

Q. What should Oracle customers do if they want to learn more about the latest release of Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c?
A. First, speak to your Oracle contact, whether it is a partner or Oracle representative, to get more complete information. Also consider coming to an Oracle Day event in your area, especially if you can attend one dedicated to cloud computing. And in the meantime, you can always head to the Oracle Enterprise Manager pages on oracle.com to get started.

Find out more about Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c Release 4.

Watch a short video featuring Sutherland.



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Monday Aug 25, 2014

Aramark Streamlines IT with Oracle Enterprise Manager

Aramark, a global leader in the food services industry, facilities management, and uniform services business, delivers world-class application SLAs consistently using Oracle Enterprise Manager.



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Wednesday Aug 20, 2014

Oracle OpenWorld 2014 Preview: Don't-Miss Sessions, Hands-on Labs, and More

Check out all the latest Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c sessions at this year's Oracle OpenWorld. Organizers of the event, taking place in San Francisco from September 28 to October 2, expect heavy turnout at sessions, hands-on labs, and customer panels devoted to Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c. Find out who is participating and which sessions are most recommended by the Oracle Enterprise Manager team.
Read More




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Wednesday Aug 13, 2014

Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c Wins 2 DBTA Readers’ Choice Awards

In the first annual 2014 Readers’ Choice Awards, Database Trends and Applications (DBTA) magazine announced that Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c has won two awards for "Best Database Administration Solution" and "Best Database Performance Solution."

More than 22,000 votes were cast across 31 different database categories, from Best Relational Database to Best Database Appliance, DBTA called the contest a tight race and was "often neck and neck" between nominees.

"Oracle has a longstanding commitment to superior manageability for our products. Oracle Enterprise Manager's continued success and innovations in providing the leading solution for managing Oracle Database is a prime example of this commitment. These awards are a further testament to the importance customers place on Oracle Enterprise Manager." says Moe Fardoost, Senior Director, Product Marketing for Oracle Enterprise Manager.

You can see the complete list of winners here: Database Trends and Applications magazine—2014 Readers’ Choice Awards


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Wednesday Jul 30, 2014

Reducing Downtime While Patching Multi-OMS Environments

Enterprise Manager 12.1.0.4 has now been released for a few weeks, as well as the 12.1.0.4 OMS Bundle patches (also known as System patches). If you plan to apply these bundle patches to your 12.1.0.4 OMS, and you are concerned about the downtime, then, you can reduce the downtime by referring to this whitepaper that contains patching instructions to reduce downtime. 


This whitepaper covers various Enterprise Manager High Availability (EM HA)  usecases (level 1, 2, 3, 4), and contains instructions on how to reduce downtime while applying patches to each of these usecases. It also clearly defines the steps that require downtime and those that do not.

If you have a multi-OMS setup, you can also refer to this whitepaper which covers script creation using the opatchauto command, which automates the substeps and further reduces downtime.During our internal testing of this whitepaper on an EM HA setup, we have noticed a significant reduction in downtime. 

If your customer plans to do an Enterprise Manager Upgrade to 12.1.0.4, then as a post upgrade recommendation, they should patch their OMS with the latest bundle patches by following the instructions outlined in this whitepaper.

White paper on OTN:
http://www.oracle.com/technetwork/oem/install-upgrade/reducedowntime-patchmultioms-2251257.pdf

MOS note for the latest Bundle Patches:
Enterprise Manager 12.1.0.4.0 (PS3) Master Bundle Patch List (Doc ID 1900943.1)

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Thursday Jul 17, 2014

Patching 101 - The User Friendly Guide to Understanding EM Patches

There was a conversation on twitter last week about available patches for Enterprise Manager (EM) 12.1.0.4, and it got a little deeper than 140 characters will allow.  I've written this blog to give a quick Patching 101 on the types of EM patches you might see and the details around how they can be applied.

OMS Patches

The core Enterprise Manager system is typically patched with the quarterly PSU patches (released Jan, Apr, July, Oct) or a one-off when directed by support for a critical issue.  PSU patches will be cumulative, so you need not apply each of them, just apply the latest.  The OMSes must be shutdown during patching, however some patches are being released with rolling patch instructions for multi-OMS systems.  These patches must be applied at the host level, and cannot be automated via EM.   ALWAYS read the readme, yes every time.  The patching steps can change from patch to patch so it's critical to read the readme. OPatch or OPatchauto will be used to apply these patches.  Did I mention to read the readme for every patch?  It's also important to note that there may be additional steps when patching in a multi-OMS or standby environment, so read the output of OPatchauto carefully.

Always download the latest OPatch release for the appropriate version.  If you read the readme, you already know this!   Download patch 6880880 for 11.1 (the OPatch version used by EM) and unzip into the $ORACLE_HOME.  Most errors in patching are related to not updating OPatch. 

For more information on PSU Patches and patching EM:
Oracle Enterprise Manager Cloud Control Administrators Guide - Chapter 16 Patching Oracle Management Server and the Repository
EM 12c Cloud Control: List of Available Patch Set Updates PSU (Doc ID 1605609.1)
How to Determine the List of Patch Set Update(PSU) Applied to the Enterprise Manager OMS and Agent Oracle Homes? (Doc ID 1358092.1)

Each plug-in has binaries that will require patches as well.  Same downtime requirements apply for plug-in patches as the quarterly PSUs.  Starting in 12.1.0.3, the plug-in patches are being released as a monthly bundle.  This means that if you have 6 plug-ins, you may have 6 OMS side patches to apply - 1 for each plug-in.  Bundles are not always released for every plug-in every month.  They are cumulative, so pick the latest.

Starting with 12.1.0.4, the individual OMS-side plug-in bundles are being grouped into a System  Patch each month. So for example, in June 2014 the System patch includes MOS, Cloud, DB, FA, FMW, SMF, and Siebel plug-ins.  Non-required patches will be skipped.

For more information on the EM Patch Bundles and Patching EM:
Enterprise Manager 12.1.0.4.0 (PS3) Master Bundle Patch List (Doc ID 1900943.1)
Enterprise Manager 12.1.0.3 Bundle Patch Master Note (Doc ID 1572022.1)

Agent Patches

Agent patches are applied to each agent.  They can be applied via EM using the MOS patch plans, which makes it a lot easier when you have 100s or 1000s of Agents to patch!  The Patch Plans will start a blackout, validate prerequisites, check for conflicts, and update OPatch for you.  If you don't use the Patch Plan you can patch manually with OPatch, don't forget to read the readme!  The Agent must be shutdown during the patch application.  There are 4 main types of Agent patches you will see:

  • Core Agent - Starting with 12.1.0.3.0 the core Agent will have monthly patch bundles .  These are also cumulative, so my recommendation is to apply the latest one.  
  • Agent-side Discovery Plug-in - This is the lightweight piece of the plug-in used for target discovery.  Discovery plug-in patches are cumulative with other discovery plug-in patches for that component. 
  • Agent-side Monitoring Plug-in - This is the more detailed monitoring side of the plug-ins for the required components.  Monitoring plug-in patches are cumulative with other monitoring plug-in patches for that component.   So if there's a Discovery and Monitoring patch available for the DB Plug-in, you need to apply both of them.  
  • JDBC patches for the Agent will be JDBC version 11.1.0.7.0.  These patches do get applied to the Agent, and can be applied via the Patch Plans.  

You can apply the latest Agent bundle, JDBC patch and the plug-in bundles in one patch plan.   If there's a conflict, you'll be notified.   If the Agents you've selected don't have specified plug-ins, you'll also receive notice during the analyze step.  As of now, for my 12.1.0.4 agents, I would apply the 12.1.0.4.1 patch (18873338) and the two available plug-in agent patches DB monitoring (19002534) and FMW monitoring (18953219) and the latest JDBC patches (18502187,18721761) all in one patch plan.

I discovered a new feature in 12.1.0.4 while testing this.  Normally you had to have Normal Oracle Home preferred credentials set for all Agent targets to patch, or select Override and specify the Normal Oracle Home credentials.   In 12.1.0.4, the Agent uses it's internal credentials to Patch itself, so setting preferred credentials or specifying at run-time is not required.  The user patching would require the Manage Target Patch and Patch Plan privileges.  

For more details on Agent patching:
Oracle Enterprise Manager Cloud Control Administrators Guide - Chapter 17 Patching Enterprise Manager Agents 
Simplified Agent and Plug-in Patching

Infrastructure

The OMS and Agent are the key components, and my main focus here.  However it's important to keep the infrastructure stack up to date as well.  This includes the Oracle Fusion Middleware and Oracle Database that are used for EM.   The recommendation is to follow the best practices for each of these components, and regularly update with the PSU patches available.   The following reference notes will help in identifying the current PSU patches.   The WebLogic Server version used by EM 12c is 10.3.6. 

Oracle Recommended Patches -- Oracle Database (MOS 756671.1)
Master Note on WebLogic Server Patch Set Updates (PSUs) (MOS 1470197.1)

Summary

Hopefully this will help you understand the various types of components involved with keeping EM up to date.   Obviously, you may not want to patch each month and maybe not every quarter, but the patches are available to keep the software up to date and make things easier to apply in bundles.  You'll want to setup a plan for planned software maintenance in your environment.  There's a whitepaper Oracle Enterprise Manager Software Planned Maintenance that will help guide you through the best practices.  

Tuesday Jul 01, 2014

Limit Self Service User Access to Database Self Service Portal

When implementing database as a service and/or snap clone, a common request was for a way to hide the other service types like IaaS, MWaaS, etc from the self service portal for the end users. Before EM12c R4, there was no way to restrict the portal view. Essentially, any user with the EM_SSA_USER role would be directed to the self service portal and would then be able to see all service types supported by EM12c.


Of course, you could always set Database as your default self service portal from the 'My Preferences' pop up, but this only helps with their post-login experience. The end user still gets to see all the options as shown in screen above.


In EM12c R4, a new out of the box role called EM_SSA_USER_BASE has been introduced. This role, by default, does not give access to any portal, that is an explicit selection. Here is how you use this role:

1. Create a custom role and add the EM_SSA_USER_BASE role to it.


 2. Now in the Resource Privileges step, select the Resource Type 'Cloud Self Service Portal for Database', and edit it


3. Check the 'Access the Cloud Self Service Portal for Database.' privilege. Finish the rest of the wizard.


 Now, when a user with this custom role accesses the self service portal, they can only do so for databases and nothing else.


While the EM_SSA_USER role will continue to work, we recommend you start using the new EM_SSA_USER_BASE role. For more details on DBaaS or Snap Clone roles, refer to the cloud admin guide chapter on roles and users.

-- Adeesh Fulay (@AdeeshF)


Friday Jun 27, 2014

Convert Crontab to Enterprise Manager Jobs

Surprisingly, a popular question posted on our internal forum is about the possibility of using the Enterprise Manager (EM) Job System to replace customer’s numerous cron jobs. The answer is obviously YES! I say surprisingly because the EM Job system has been in existence for around 10 years (I believe since EM 10.2.0.1), and my hope was that, by now, customers would have moved to using more enterprise class job schedulers instead of cron. So, here is a quick post on how to get started with this conversion from cron to EM Jobs for some of our new users.

Benefits of EM Job System

 Before we learn about the how, let’s look at the why. The EM job system is:

  • Free - (Yes, I said free) It is included with the base EM at no cost.
  • Flexible - It supports multiple options for scheduling, notification, authentication, etc
  • Infinitely scalable - the job system seamlessly scales to every new Oracle Management Server (OMS). In fact, in case of OMS failures, the job steps are automatically picked up by the next available OMS without affecting the job execution.
  • General purpose - General purpose since it provides numerous out-of-the-box job types like run OS command, start/stop, backup, SQL Script, patch, etc that span multiple target types. As of today, there are over 50 job types available in the product.
  • Enterprise grade - It allows users to automate multiple administrative tasks like backup, patching, cloning, etc across multiple targets. Customers have not only converted their cron jobs to EM, but have also replaced other enterprise tools like Autosys and migrated 1000s of jobs to EM Job System.
  • APIs - Jobs can be scheduled and managed from the UI and using EMCLI (the command line interface).

Now back to our topic.

The Conversion Process

Let’s start with a sample crontab that we want to convert.

Sample Crontab

A cron expression consists of 6 fields, where the first 5 fields represent the schedule, while the last field represents the command or script to run.

 Field Name
Mandatory?  Allowed Values
 Allowed special characters
 Minutes  Yes 0-59  * / , -
 Hours  Yes  0-23  * / , -
 Day of month
Yes  1-31 * / , - ? L W
 Month Yes  1-12 or JAN-DEC
* / , -
 Day of week
Yes  0-6 or SUN-SAT
* / , - ? L #

Cron jobs run on the operating system, often using the native shell or other tools installed on the operating system. The equivalent of this capability in Enterprise Manager is the ‘OS Command’ job type. Here are the steps required to convert the first entry in the crontab to an EM job:

1. Navigate to the Job Activity page
Job activity menu

2. Select the ‘OS Command’ job and click Go
OS Command

A 5-tab wizard will appear. Let’s step through this one by one.

3. Select the first tab called ‘General’. Here provide a meaningful name and description for the job. Since this job will be run on the Host target, keep the target type selection as ‘Host’. Next, select all host targets in EM that you wish to run this script against.

While cron jobs are defined on a per host bases, in EM a job definition can be run and managed across multiple hosts or groups of hosts. This avoids having to maintain the same crontab across multiple hosts.

General

4. Select the ‘Parameters’ tab. Here enter the command or script as specified in the last field of the crontab entry. When constructing the command, you can make use of the various target properties.
Parameters tab

5. Next select ‘Credentials’. Here we provide the credentials required to connect to the host and execute the required commands or scripts. Three options are presented to the user:

  • Preferred – default credential set for the host
  • Named - Credentials are stored within Enterprise Manager as "named" entities. Named credentials can be a username/password, or a public key-private key pair. Here we choose pre-created named credentials
  • New – This allows us to create and use new named credential

Note: If your OS user does not have the required privileges to execute the set command, Named Credentials also support use of sudo, powerbroker, sesu, etc.

Credentials tab

6. Next, we set the schedule and this is where it gets interesting. As discussed before, crontab uses a textual representation for the schedule, while EM Job system has a graphical representation for the schedule.

Our sample schedule in the crontab is ‘00 0 * * Sun’. This translates to a weekly job at 12 midnight on every Sunday. To set this in EM, choose the ‘Repeating’ schedule type. The screenshot below shows all the other selections.
Schedule tab

 The key here is to select the correct ‘Frequency Type’, the rest of the selections are quite obvious. This also lets you choose the desired timezone for the schedule. Your options are to either start the job w.r.t a fixed timezone, or start it in individual target's timezone. The latter is very popular, for example, I want to start a job at 2 AM local time in every region around the world.

Another selection of note is that for ‘Grace Period’. This is an extremely powerful feature, but often not used by many customers. Typically, we expect jobs to be started within a few seconds or minutes (based on the load on the system and number of jobs scheduled) of the start time, but a job might not start on time for many reasons. The most common reasons are the Agent being down or due to a blackout. The grace period controls the latest start time for the job in case the job is delayed, else its is marked as skipped. By default, jobs are scheduled with indefinite grace periods, but I highly recommend setting a value for it. In the sample above, I set a 3 hr limit which may seem large but given the weekly nature of the job seems reasonable. So the job system will wait until 3 am (the job start time is 12 am) to start the job, after which the iteration will be skipped. For repeating schedules, the grace period should always be less than the repeat interval. If the job starts on time, the grace period is ignored.

7. Finally, we navigate to the ‘Access’ tab. This tab has two parts:

  • Privilege assignment to roles and users: this allows you to control job level access for other users
  • Email notifications for the Job owner: this allows you to control the events for which you wish to receive notifications. Note, this only sets notification for the job owner, the other users can subscribe to emails by setting up notification and/or incident rules.

To prevent EM from sending deluge of emails, I recommend the following settings in the notifications region:

  • Match status and severity: Both
  • Select severity of status: Critical
  • Select status: Problems & Action Required

       You can always come back and modify these settings to suit your needs.

Access tab

Not all cron jobs need to be converted to OS command. For example, if you are taking Oracle database backups using cron, then you probably want to use the out-of-the-box  job type for RMAN scripts. Just provide the RMAN script, list of databases to run this against, and the credentials required to connect to the database. Similarly, if you run sqls on numerous databases, you can leverage the SQL Script job type for this purpose. There are over 50 job types available in EM12c, all available for use from the UI and EMCLI.

Finally, the best way to learn more about the EM Job System is to actually play with it. I also recommend blogs from Maaz, Kellyn, and other users on this topic. Good luck!!

References

Maaz Anjum: http://maazanjum.com/2013/12/30/create-a-simple-job-for-a-host-target-in-em12c/
Kellyn Pot'vin: http://dbakevlar.com/

-- Adeesh Fulay (@adeeshf)

Tuesday Jun 17, 2014

EM12c Release 4: Job System Easter Eggs - Part 2

This is part 2 of my two part blog post on Job System Easter Eggs (hidden features). The two features being covered are:

  1. New Job progress tracking UI
  2. Import/Export of job definitions

In the previous post, I talked about the new UI while in this post I will cover import and export for job definitions. 


2.  Import/Export of job definitions

The ability to export and import job definitions across EM environments has been a popular enhancement request for quite some time. There are 3 primary drivers:

  • Test to Production: Moving active and library job definitions from test site to production
  • Migration: Move job definitions across EM versions. This is often used as an alternative to upgrade.
  • As Failsafe: For that extra protection, in addition to repository backups. This can be useful for selective restoration of job definition.

In the first iteration, we are exposing these functions as emcli verbs.  Since these emcli verbs are not formally supported in the release, no documentation is included in the EMCLI Reference Guide. So to learn more about them, we will have to look at emcli help. The two verbs are called export_jobs, and import_jobs.

>> ./emcli help | grep _jobs


Some salient points about the import & export verbs are.

Export:

  • Rich filter criteria to form the list of jobs to export
  • Active and Library jobs can be exported
  • Preview mode, to view results before exporting them
  • Job definitions are exported as zip files for ease of transfer
  • Contextual information like targets, credentials, access settings, etc is exported, but not imported. In future, we may be able to support import for this information as well.
  • System jobs and nested jobs are not exported

Import:

  • Special Preview mode to view contents of the exported file, and to determine possible conflicts during import
  • Rich filter criteria to selectively import job definitions from the exported file
  • Job definitions are imported to the library ONLY. This is true even if an active job was exported
  • Two failure modes - skip on error, and rollback on error
  • Import only works on same or higher version of EM12c. The patch set number matters.


Export Job Definitions

Let's walk through an example.

1. We start with export_jobs. The help for this verb will show you all the available options. Most of the filters are self explanatory, so i will skip the explanation. The most important option of all is the -preview flag. This when used in conjunction with other filters, will show results without exporting the job definitions.

>> ./emcli help export_jobs

emcli export_jobs
   [-name="job name1;job name2;..."]
   [-type="job type1;job type2;..."]
   [-targets="tname1:ttype1;tname2:ttype2;..."]
   [-owner="owner1;owner2;..."]
   [-preview]
  -export_file=<Zip filename that will be created>"
   -libraryjobs

2.  Now lets play with this verb. If we invoke the verb with just the -preview flag, it will list all job definitions that can be exported both that are active, and from the library. Note: system jobs and nested jobs are skipped from this output.

>> ./emcli export_jobs -preview

Not all job types are exportable. To determine the list of job types supported via the import and export verbs, use the get_job_types verb.

>>  ./emcli get_job_types

Currently, there are over 50 job types supported, and this list will continue to grow with every release.

3. From the list above, I am primarily interested in jobs that are created by the user AFULAY. So I apply the -owner filter.

>> ./emcli export_jobs -owner=AFULAY -preview


In this output i see 2 jobs, 'Library Job' which is a simple OS command job stored in the job library, while the 'Test Job' is an active OS command job scheduled against a bunch of targets.

Note: if multiple options are specified, like -name and -owner, then these are ANDed together.

4. Since i am the lazy kind, i would rather export every thing and then later decide what i wish to import. So here it goes. The -export_file option takes the location and file name for the export file. Note the actual output file is an xml that contains job metadata, but the export file is always archived and stored in a zip format. At this time, I am sure most would instinctively unzip the file and start perusing through its contents, but doing so would be analogous to removing the warranty void sticker of your new TV or Blue Ray player. Basically, attempts to manually modify the contents of the exported zip file is highly discouraged.

>> ./emcli export_jobs -export_file=/tmp/afulay_alljobs.zip


Note how the status column reports success or failure for each job being exported. With the file exported, we now move on to the import verb.

.

Import Job Definitions

In the previous section, we exported a file with all job definitions in it. Now lets say we share this file with bunch of other admins and ask them to import whatever job definitions that make sense or are relevant to their environment.

1. To understand the capabilities of the import verb, we take a look at the help content.

>> ./emcli help import_jobs

emcli import_jobs
   [-name="job name1;job name2;..."]
   [-type="job type1;job type2;..."]
   [-targets="tname1:ttype1;tname2:ttype2;..."]
   [-owner="owner1;owner2;..."]
   [-preview]
   [-force]
   [-stoponerror]
   -import_file=<Zip filename that contains job definitions>"

 Most of the options are quite similar to export_jobs barring a few. The -force flag allows the admin to update an existing job definition. Typically, you will run into these situations when a conflicting job is found in the new environment, and you want to either update its definition with the new version in the import file or overwrite the localized changes. The -stoponerror flag, when specified, will stop the import process on first encountered failure, and then rollback all jobs imported in the session. We will likely change this label to rollbackonerror to correctly represent its behavior. The default behavior is to skip failed jobs and continue importing others.

2. Before our admins import job definitions, they first need to view the contents of the exported file. This again can be done using the -preview option.

>> ./emcli import_jobs -preview -import_file=/tmp/afulay_alljobs.zip


The -preview option in the import verb is very special. It not only just lists the contents of the exported file, but also connects to the new EM environment and looks for potential conflicts during import. So this is a deep validation test. As seen in the above screenshot, there are two sections in the output, first is just a listing of all job definitions from the import file, while the second is a list of all conflicts. Note: for demo sake, i am exporting and importing to the same EM site, and hence every job shows up as a conflict. To address this issue, i will eventually delete the 'Library Job' from my job library, and import it from the import file.

Disclaimer:

In the interest of full disclosure, i should mention that there are few known bugs for the import verb, hence the rationale for not releasing these verbs formally with EM12c R4. Some bugs i ran into when writing this blog were:

  • you cannot export an active job, delete it, and import it back to the same EM environment, this currently is only possible with library jobs.  This is an obscure case though.
  • The -force flag is a little flaky, so sometimes it wouldn't force import even if you want it to
  • The -owner flag does not work on the import file, it instead will throw an exception

That said, when the job does get imported, it does so properly, so there is never any risk of metadata corruption.


3. If i try to import the 'Library Job', the verb will fail and give me an error message.

>> ./emcli import_jobs -name='LIBRARY JOB' -import_file=/tmp/afulay_alljobs.zip


The Status column reports Error, while the Notes column gives the reason as 'job already exists'.

4. Now lets delete the library job and try to import it.

>> ./emcli delete_library_job -name='LIBRARY JOB'

>> ./emcli import_jobs -name='LIBRARY JOB' -import_file=/tmp/afulay_alljobs.zip


Success!!We were able to delete the library job, and import it back from the import file.


In summary, there two very useful enhancements made in EM12c R4. Unfortunately, due to time constraints and our inability to meet the set quality standards, we decided to ship these features in disabled state. This ensures that production sites and users are not impacted, while still giving the few brave souls the opportunity to test these features. In my assessment, i have found the new UI to be fairly robust as i have been using this exclusively for a while. On the other hand, there are few known bugs with the import and export emcli verbs, so use these with caution.

-- Adeesh Fulay (@adeeshf)  

Monday Jun 16, 2014

EM12c Release 4: Job System Easter Eggs - Part 1

So you just installed a new EM12c R4 environment or upgraded your existing EM environment to EM12c R4. Post upgrade you go to the Job System activity page (via Enterprise->Job->Activity menu) and view the progress details  of a job. Well nothing seems to have changed, its the same UI, the same multi-page drill down to view step output, same no. of clicks, etc. Wrong! In this two part blog post, i talk about two Job System Easter Eggs (hidden features) that most of you will find interesting. These are:

  1. New Job progress tracking UI
  2. Import/Export of job definitions

So before i go any further, let me address the issue of why are these features hidden? As we were building these features, we realized that we would not be ready to ship the desired quality of code by the set dates. Hence, instead of removing the code, it was decided to ship it in a disabled state so as not to impact customers, but still allowing a brave few to experiment with it and provide valuable feedback.

1.  New Job Progress Tracking UI

The job system UI hasn't changed much since its introduction almost 10 years ago. It is a daunting task to update all the job system related UIs in a single release, and hence we decided to take a piecemeal approach instead. In the first installment, we have revamped the job progress tracking page.

Old Job Progress Tracking UI

The current UI, as shown above, while being very functional, is also very laborious. Multiple clicks and drill downs are required to view the step output for a particular target. Also, any click leads to complete page refresh, which leads to wastage of time and resources. The new UI tries to address all these concerns. It is a single page UI, which means no matter where you click, you never leave the page and thus never lose context of the target or step you where in. It also significantly reduces the no. of clicks required to complete the same task as in the current UI. So lets take a look at this new UI.

 First, as i mentioned earlier, you need to enable this UI. To do this, you need to run the following emctl command from any of the OMS:

./emctl set property -name oracle.sysman.core.jobs.ui.useAdfExecutionUi -value true

 This command will prompt for the sysman password, and then will enable the new UI.

NOTE: This command does not require a restart of the OMS. Once run, the new UI will be enabled for all user across all OMSes.

EMCTL Output

Now revisit the job progress tracking page from before. You will be directed to the new UI.

New Job Progress Tracking UI

There are in all 6 key regions on this new single page job progress tracking UI. Starting from top left, these are:

  1. Job Run Actions - These are actions that can be performed on the job run like suspend resume, retry, stop, edit, etc.
  2. Executions - This region displays all the executions in the job run. An execution, in most cases, represents a single target and hence runs independently from other executions. This region thus shows the progress and status of all executions in a single view. The best part of this region is the column titled 'Execution Time'. The cigar chart in this column represents two things - one, the duration of the execution, and two, the difference in start times. The visual representation helps in identifying runaway executions, or just compare execution times across different targets. The Actions menu allows various options like start, stop, debug, delete, etc.
  3. Execution Summary - Clicking on an execution in the above region, paints the area on the right. This specific region shows execution summary with information like status, start & end date, execution id, command, etc
  4. Execution Steps - This region lists the steps that make up the execution.
  5. Step Output - Clicking on a step from the above region, paints this region. This shows the details of the step. This includes the step output and the ability to download it to a text file.
  6. Page Options - We imagine that learning any new UI takes time, and hence this final region provides the option to switch between the new and the classic view. Additionally, this also allows you to set the auto refresh rate for the page.

Essentially, considering that jobs have two levels - executions and steps, we have experimented with a multi-master style layout. EM has never used such a layout and hence there were concerns raised when we chose to do so.

Master 1 (region 2) -> Detail 1 (regions 3, 4, & 5)

Master 2 (region 4) -> Detail 2 (region 5)


In summary, with this new UI, we have been able to significantly reduce the no. of clicks required to track job progress and drill into details. We have also been able to show all relevant information in a single page, thus avoiding unnecessary page redirection and reloads. I would love to hear from you if this experiment has paid off and if you find this new UI useful.

In the next part of this blog i talk about the new emcli verbs to import and export job definitions across EM environments. This has been a long standing enhancement request, and we are quite excited about our efforts.

-- Adeesh Fulay (@adeeshf)  

Wednesday Jun 04, 2014

EM12c Release 4: Database as a Service Enhancements

Oracle Enterprise Manager 12.1.0.4 (or simply put EM12c R4) is the latest update to the product. As previous versions, this release provides tons of enhancements and bug fixes, attributing to improved stability and quality. One of the areas that is most exciting and has seen tremendous growth in the last few years is that of Database as a Service. EM12c R4 provides a significant update to Database as a Service. The key themes are:

  1. Comprehensive Database Service Catalog (includes single instance, RAC, and Data Guard)
  2. Additional Storage Options for Snap Clone (includes support for Database feature CloneDB)
  3. Improved Rapid Start Kits
  4. Extensible Metering and Chargeback
  5. Miscellaneous Enhancements


1. Comprehensive Database Service Catalog

Before we get deep into implementation of a service catalog, lets first understand what it is and what benefits it provides. Per ITIL, a service catalog is an exhaustive list of IT services that an organization provides or offers to its employees or customers. Service catalogs have been widely popular in the space of cloud computing, primarily as the medium to provide standardized and pre-approved service definitions. There is already some good collateral out there that talks about Oracle database service catalogs. The two whitepapers i recommend reading are:

Service Catalogs: Defining Standardized Database Service

High Availability Best Practices for Database Consolidation: The Foundation for Database as a Service [Oracle MAA]

EM12c comes with an out-of-the-box service catalog and self service portal since release 1. For the customers, it provides the following benefits:

  • Present a collection of standardized database service definitions,
  • Define standardized pools of hardware and software for provisioning,
  • Role based access to cater to different class of users,
  • Automated procedures to provision the predefined database definitions,
  • Setup chargeback plans based on service tiers and database configuration sizes, etc

Starting Release 4, the scope of services offered via the service catalog has been expanded to include databases with varying levels of availability - Single Instance (SI) or Real Application Clusters (RAC) databases with multiple data guard based standby databases. Some salient points of the data guard integration:

  • Standby pools can now be defined across different datacenters or within the same datacenter as the primary (this helps in modelling the concept of near and far DR sites)
  • The standby databases can be single instance, RAC, or RAC One Node databases
  • Multiple standby databases can be provisioned, where the maximum limit is determined by the version of database software
  • The standby databases can be in either mount or read only (requires active data guard option) mode
  • All database versions 10g to 12c supported (as certified with EM 12c)
  • All 3 protection modes can be used - Maximum availability, performance, security
  • Log apply can be set to sync or async along with the required apply lag

The different service levels or service tiers are popularly represented using metals - Platinum, Gold, Silver, Bronze, and so on. The Oracle MAA whitepaper (referenced above) calls out the various service tiers as defined by Oracle's best practices, but customers can choose any logical combinations from the table below:

 Primary  Standby [1 or more]
 EM 12cR4
 SI  -
 SI
 SI
 RAC
-
 RAC
SI
 RAC
RAC
 RON
-
 RON
RON
where RON = RAC One Node is supported via custom post-scripts in the service template

A sample service catalog would look like the image below. Here we have defined 4 service levels, which have been deployed across 2 data centers, and have 3 standardized sizes. Again, it is important to note that this is just an example to get the creative juices flowing. I imagine each customer would come up with their own catalog based on the application requirements, their RTO/RPO goals, and the product licenses they own. In the screenwatch titled 'Build Service Catalog using EM12c DBaaS', I walk through the complete steps required to setup this sample service catalog in EM12c.


2. Additional Storage Options for Snap Clone

In my previous blog posts, i have described the snap clone feature in detail. Essentially, it provides a storage agnostic, self service, rapid, and space efficient approach to solving your data cloning problems. The net benefit is that you get incredible amounts of storage savings (on average 90%) all while cloning databases in a matter of minutes. Space and Time, two things enterprises would love to save on. This feature has been designed with the goal of providing data cloning capabilities while protecting your existing investments in server, storage, and software. With this in mind, we have pursued with the dual solution approach of Hardware and Software. In the hardware approach, we connect directly to your storage appliances and perform all low level actions required to rapidly clone your databases. While in the software approach, we use an intermediate software layer to talk to any storage vendor or any storage configuration to perform the same low level actions. Thus delivering the benefits of database thin cloning, without requiring you to drastically changing the infrastructure or IT's operating style.

In release 4, we expand the scope of options supported by snap clone with the addition of database CloneDB. While CloneDB is not a new feature, it was first introduced in 11.2.0.2 patchset, it has over the years become more stable and mature. CloneDB leverages a combination of Direct NFS (or dNFS) feature of the database, RMAN image copies, sparse files, and copy-on-write technology to create thin clones of databases from existing backups in a matter of minutes. It essentially has all the traits that we want to present to our customers via the snap clone feature. For more information on cloneDB, i highly recommend reading the following sources:

Blog by Tim Hall: Direct NFS (DNFS) CloneDB in Oracle Database 11g Release 2

Oracle OpenWorld Presentation by Cern: Efficient Database Cloning using Direct NFS and CloneDB

The advantages of the new CloneDB integration with EM12c Snap Clone are:

  • Space and time savings
  • Ease of setup - no additional software is required other than the Oracle database binary
  • Works on all platforms
  • Reduce the dependence on storage administrators
  • Cloning process fully orchestrated by EM12c, and delivered to developers/DBAs/QA Testers via the self service portal
  • Uses dNFS to delivers better performance, availability, and scalability over kernel NFS
  • Complete lifecycle of the clones managed by EM12c - performance, configuration, etc


3. Improved Rapid Start Kits

DBaaS deployments tend to be complex and its setup requires a series of steps. These steps are typically performed across different users and different UIs. The Rapid Start Kit provides a single command solution to setup Database as a Service (DBaaS) and Pluggable Database as a Service (PDBaaS). One command creates all the Cloud artifacts like Roles, Administrators, Credentials, Database Profiles, PaaS Infrastructure Zone, Database Pools and Service Templates. Once the Rapid Start Kit has been successfully executed, requests can be made to provision databases and PDBs from the self service portal. Rapid start kit can create complex topologies involving multiple zones, pools and service templates. It also supports standby databases and use of RMAN image backups.

The Rapid Start Kit in reality is a simple emcli script which takes a bunch of xml files as input and executes the complete automation in a matter of seconds. On a full rack Exadata, it took only 40 seconds to setup PDBaaS end-to-end. This kit works for both Oracle's engineered systems like Exadata, SuperCluster, etc and also on commodity hardware. One can draw parallel to the Exadata One Command script, which again takes a bunch of inputs from the administrators and then runs a simple script that configures everything from network to provisioning the DB software.

Steps to use the kit:

  • The kit can be found under the SSA plug-in directory on the OMS: EM_BASE/oracle/MW/plugins/oracle.sysman.ssa.oms.plugin_12.1.0.8.0/dbaas/setup
  • It can be run from this default location or from any server which has emcli client installed
  • For most scenarios, you would use the script dbaas/setup/database_cloud_setup.py
  • For Exadata, special integration is provided to reduce the number of inputs even further. The script to use for this scenario would be dbaas/setup/exadata_cloud_setup.py
  • The database_cloud_setup.py script takes two inputs:
    • Cloud boundary xml: This file defines the cloud topology in terms of the zones and pools along with host names, oracle home locations or container database names that would be used as infrastructure for provisioning database services. This file is optional in case of Exadata, as the boundary is well know via the Exadata system target available in EM.
    • Input xml: This file captures inputs for users, roles, profiles, service templates, etc. Essentially, all inputs required to define the DB services and other settings of the self service portal.
  • Once all the xml files have been prepared, invoke the script as follows for PDBaaS:
    emcli @database_cloud_setup.py -pdbaas 
          -cloud_boundary=/tmp/my_boundary.xml 
          -cloud_input=/tmp/pdb_inputs.xml

         The script will prompt for passwords a few times for key users like sysman, cloud admin, SSA admin, etc. Once complete, you can simply log into EM as the self service user and request for databases from the portal.

More information available in the Rapid Start Kit chapter in Cloud Administration Guide


4. Extensible Metering and Chargeback

 Last but not the least, Metering and Chargeback in release 4 has been made extensible in all possible regards. The new extensibility features allow customer, partners, system integrators, etc to :

  • Extend chargeback to any target type managed in EM
  • Promote any metric in EM as a chargeback entity
  • Extend list of charge items via metric or configuration extensions
  • Model abstract entities like no. of backup requests, job executions, support requests, etc

 A slew of emcli verbs have also been added that allows administrators to create, edit, delete, import/export charge plans, and assign cost centers all via the command line.

More information available in the Chargeback API chapter in Cloud Administration Guide.


5. Miscellaneous Enhancements

There are other miscellaneous, yet important, enhancements that are worth a mention. These mostly have been asked by customers like you. These are:

  • Custom naming of DB Services
    • Self service users can provide custom names for DB SID, DB service, schemas, and tablespaces
    • Every custom name is validated for uniqueness in EM
  • 'Create like' of Service Templates
    • Now creating variants of a service template is only a click away. This would be vital when you publish service templates to represent different database sizes or service levels.
  • Profile viewer
    • View the details of a profile like datafile, control files, snapshot ids, export/import files, etc prior to its selection in the service template
  • Cleanup automation - for failed and successful requests
    • Single emcli command to cleanup all remnant artifacts of a failed request
    • Cleanup can be performed on a per request bases or by the entire pool
    • As an extension, you can also delete successful requests
  • Improved delete user workflow
    • Allows administrators to reassign cloud resources to another user or delete all of them
  • Support for multiple tablespaces for schema as a service
    • In addition to multiple schemas, user can also specify multiple tablespaces per request

I hope this was a good introduction to the new Database as a Service enhancements in EM12c R4. I encourage you to explore many of these new and existing features and give us feedback.

Good luck!

References:

Cloud Management Page on OTN

Cloud Administration Guide [Documentation]

-- Adeesh Fulay (@adeeshf)

Tuesday Jun 03, 2014

Oracle Delivers Latest Release of Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c

Richer Service Catalog for Database and Middleware as a Service; Enhanced Database and Middleware Management Help Drive Enterprise-Scale Private Cloud Adoption

News Summary
IT organizations are adopting private clouds as a stepping-stone to business-driven, self-service IT. Successful implementations hinge on the ability to efficiently deploy and manage cloud services at enterprise scale. Having a complete cloud management solution integrated with an enterprise-class technology stack is a fundamental requirement for IT. Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c Release 4 meets that requirement by helping businesses become more agile and responsive, while reducing cost, complexity, and risk.

News Facts

  • Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c Release 4, available today, lets organizations rapidly adopt Oracle-based, enterprise-scale private clouds.
  • New capabilities provide advanced technology stack management, secure database administration, and enterprise service governance, enabling Oracle customers and partners to maximize database and application performance and drive innovation using self-service IT platforms.
  • The enhancements have been driven by customers and the growing Oracle Enterprise Manager Ecosystem, comprised of more than 750 Oracle PartnerNetwork (OPN) Specialized partners. Oracle and its partners and customers have built over 140 plug-ins and connectors for Oracle Enterprise Manager.
  • Watch the video highlights.

Automation for Broader Cloud Services

  • Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c Release 4 allows for a rapid enterprise-wide adoption of database, middleware and infrastructure services in the private cloud, driven by an enhanced API-enabled service catalog.
  • The release features “push button” style provisioning of complete environments such as SOA and Oracle Active Data Guard, and fast data cloning that enables rapid deployment and testing of enterprise applications.
  • Out-of-the-box capabilities to detect data and configuration vulnerabilities provide enhanced cloud service governance along with greater operational control through a flexible and extensible showback mechanism.

Enhanced Database Management

  • A new performance warehouse enables predictive database diagnostics and trend analysis and helps identify database problems before they occur.
  • New enterprise data-governance capabilities enhance security by helping systematically discover and protect sensitive data.
  • Step-by-step orchestration of upgrades with the ability to rollback changes enables faster adoption of Oracle Database 12c.

Expanded Fusion Middleware Management

  • A new consolidated view of Oracle Fusion Middleware 12c deployments with a guided management capability lets administrators apply best management practices to diverse middleware environments and identify performance issues quickly.
  • A Java VM Diagnostics as a Service feature allows governed access to diagnostics data for IT workers across multiple disciplines for accelerated DevOps resolutions of defects and performance optimization.
  • New automated provisioning for SOA lets middleware administrators perform mass SOA provisioning with ease.

Superior Enterprise-Grade Management

  • Private roles and preferred credentials have been added to Oracle Enterprise Manager to provide additional fine-grained security for organizations with complex access control requirements.
  • A new security console provides a single point of control for managing the security of Oracle Enterprise Manager environments.
  • Support for the latest industry standard SNMP v3 protocol, including encryption, enables more secure heterogeneous management.
  • “Smart monitoring” adapts to observed environmental changes and adds self-management capabilities to help Oracle Enterprise Manager run at peak performance, while demanding less IT supervision.

Supporting Quotes

  • “Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has a strong tradition of technology breakthroughs and leadership. As a member of Oracle’s Customer Advisory Board for Oracle Enterprise Manager, we have consistently provided feedback and guidance in the areas of enterprise-scale cloud, self-diagnosability, and secure administration for the product,” said Tim Frazier, CIO, NIF and Photon Sciences, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. “We intend to take advantage of the Release 4 features that support enterprise-scale availability and fine-grained security capabilities for private cloud deployments.”
  • “IDC's most recent CloudTrack survey shows that most enterprises plan to adopt hybrid cloud architectures over the next three years,” said Mary Johnston Turner, Research Vice President, Enterprise System Management Software, IDC. “These organizations plan to deploy a wide range of workloads into cloud environments including mission critical database and middleware services that require high levels of fault tolerance and disaster recovery. Such capabilities were traditionally custom configured for each application but cloud offers the possibility to incorporate such properties within the service definition, enabling organizations to adopt cloud without compromise. With the latest release of Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c, Oracle is providing customers with an out-of-the-box experience for delivering highly-resilient cloud services for databases and applications.”
  • “Since its inception, Oracle has been leading the way in innovative, scalable and high performance solutions for the enterprise. With this release of Oracle Enterprise Manager, we are extending this leadership by providing enterprise-scale capabilities for planning, delivering, and managing private clouds. We call this ‘zero-to-cloud – accelerated.’ These enhancements help our customers to expedite their adoption of cloud computing and prepares them for the next generation of self-service IT,” said Prakash Ramamurthy, senior vice president of Systems and Cloud Management at Oracle.

Supporting Resources

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