Wednesday Jul 18, 2012

Applying Oracle Enterprise Manager Cloud Control 12c Bundle Patch 1: Tips and Tricks

Over last few months, the Oracle Enterprise Manager team has released Enterprise Manager 12c Bundle Patch1 (a.k.a. BP1) for Oracle Enterprise Manager Cloud Control 12c (EM 12c) on all the supported platforms (Customer announcement). BP1 is a mandatory patch because all future patches will assume the presence of this patch. BP1 includes several critical fixes. Therefore this patch touches almost all the components of Enterprise Manager and applying it on existing environment is a multi step process that can be tricky. From our recent experience of applying BP1 on an internal production demo site with over a thousand targets, we would like to share following tips and tricks. 

1. Applying incremental Bundle Patch or using full install?
Unless you have an EM 12c running in production environments where you can’t afford to lose the existing management repository, it is highly recommended to re-install EM using the patched EM Base Platform Full Installer (With BP1), instead of applying BP1. For instance, if you have a test or a “sandbox” environment even with substantial number of targets, it might be easier to reinstall EM environment instead of manually applying patches (including agent patches) and upgrading plug-ins. Note that reinstalling EM will require reinstallation of target agents as well. Therefore you’ll need to do careful consideration before choosing this option.

2.    Plan it well

  • Given that the BP1 process involves agent side changes like patching and plug-in upgrades, you might want to consider splitting the agent side changes into phases, especially in large sized environment. In such cases, it is critical to review the Compatibility Matrix and ensure that at no stage during the BP1 upgrade process, your environment is in an unsupported configuration.
  • Never break the sequence of steps given in the BP1 application guide or you may risk your entire environment. For example -- as an admin, after upgrading the plug-ins on OMS, you may be tempted to upgrade plug-ins of agents as well even before patching the agent. As the documentation says -- resist the temptation to avoid issues while patching agents later.
  • Keep sufficient free space for backup. It might be helpful to take keep multiple backups. See the next tip.

3.    EM 12c Backup is critical

  • Never underestimate the importance of environment backup during the BP1. It is must to backup your environment before any steps that involve change in repository data. e.g.  OMS patching, plug-in upgrade on OMS, etc.
  • Additionally it is recommended to take backup after every significant step to minimize rework in case of any failure. For instance in our environment a total of four backups were taken at following stages.
    • Before applying BP1 on OMS
    • After applying BP1 on OMS, JDeveloper, WSM
    • Before upgrading plug-ins on OMS
    • After upgrading first few plug-ins on OMS

4.    Upgrade plug-ins in bulk using emcli  
BP1 comes with the release of plug-ins and it is highly recommended to upgrade plug-ins together with the application of BP1. In a typical environment you may need to upgrade more than 15 plug-ins. For some plug-ins, the upgrade process requires a restart of OMS(s) and therefore can take a good deal of time (almost fifteen minutes for single plug-in upgrade). Hence upgrading plug-ins one by one via the UI can be time consuming process requiring manual intervention after every few minutes.
Use EM command line ‘deploy_plugin_on_server’ to deploy multiple plug-ins in one go in an automated manner. Since multiple plug-ins are upgraded in single downtime window for OMS, it is a far more efficient process. In our environment, using command line we could upgrade eight plug-ins in under 30 minutes which otherwise would have taken more than two hours. Make sure to run the emcli in a pre-requisite check mode before doing the actual deployment such as shown in the screenshot below.

Also note that if your OMS is on Linux platform, you’ll need to apply one-off patch 13638422 after applying BP1 on the OMS to get the ‘deploy_plugin_on_server’ emcli verb. For BP1 on other platforms (e.g. Windows) this patch is included in BP1 itself.

5.    From Linux OMS don’t push agents on other platforms without necessary patches
A very common use case is the deployment of agents on non-Linux platform from a Linux OMS with BP1. Since you have Windows/Solaris agent software (with BP1) available via self update, you might tend to assume that, all you need to do is simply push the Windows/Solaris agents from BP1 Linux OMS but that’s not the right way to do. You have to apply few patches on OMS and plug-ins before pushing the agent, follow the instructions from the Oracle® Enterprise Manager Bundle Patch 1 Application Guide.

6.    Read the right documentation
Last but surely not the least, it is vital that you go through the Oracle® Enterprise Manager Bundle Patch 1 Application Guide, before you begin with the BP1 process. This guide provides step by step instructions for applying BP1 including pre-requisite checks, recommendations, and troubleshooting steps.
In addition to the documentation, we suggest to refer the following key resources published by Oracle.

These few simple tips can make your experience with BP1 a lot smoother. In future entries, we’ll discuss the best practices for major updates for Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c as and when those are available.

Tuesday Mar 06, 2012

How to use Oracle Enterprise Manager Ops Center to patch your Solaris Systems ?

Oracle Enterprise Manager Ops Center allows you to update your Solaris systems with patches available from My Oracle Support (MOS).

Like always in life, there are multiple ways to perform a given task and the same is true for Ops Center.

Juergen Fleischer, Senior IT/Product Architect , Oracle Enterprise manager Ops center provided the content for this blog to guide you through different ways to perform Oracle Solaris patching depending on deployment scenarios.

Scenario 1 - Applying a single Patch to an Asset

Let's start with installing just a single patch to a system. To perform this task you would select the OS Asset and pick the action 'View/Modify Catalog' from the right hand side Actions panel.

From the pop-up screen, you can search for the patchid, see which revision is already installed and select a newer one if required.

Here is a MOS how-to document describing this in all detail:

Scenario 2 - Applying multiple patches to several systems

If you have to apply a list of patches to multiple systems every now and then, creating an Update Profile would be the best method, as once you have created the Profile it can be used many times ensuring the exact same patches in the list are applied each and every time.

Update Profiles are located in the 'Plan Management' section. Update Profiles can be used in two ways: either you select a single or a group of OS assets and pick the action 'New Update OS Job'. Or, you pick the Update Profile in the Plan Management section and select 'New Update OS Job'. The wizard will allow you to select one or more target assets or groups.

Here is a MOS how-to with all the details:

Scenario 3 - Regular Baseline Patching

For regular Baseline Patching 'Update Profiles' can be based on given patchsets which are made available by the Ops Center Knowledge Base (KB).

The KB offers two different patchsets, the monthly released Solaris Baselines (based on Oracle's internal EIS-DVD) and the current or archived versions of the "Recommended Patchset for Solaris". These are updated whenever a new critical patch gets released. Every quarter, one of these Recommended Patchsets for Solaris will be renamed as the 'Critical Patch Update' in line with standard Oracle practice. It's up to the Customer's patching policy and strategy to determine which patchsets should be used and how often they should be applied.

Scenario 4 - Latest & Greatest patchset

Finally, if required, Customers can select what is called "Latest & Greatest" patchset. These are all the latest available patches for all installed packages. To perform this task, use the 'Host Compliance Report' and tick the Security & Bug Fixes check box.

More details can be found in this blog entry

or in this MOS how-to document:

So far, we have talked about various scenarios around applying a single patch or multiple patches.  These patches can be applied on a running system or by using LiveUpgrade (LU).  LU allows creating Alternate Boot Environment (ABE), Synchronizing boot environments, Patching the ABE and then Activating the ABE.
For detailed examples and howto examples:

Before using LiveUpgrade, please verify that the latest LU-Patch (sparc: 121430, x86: 121431) is  installed on the running system.

Furthermore, when payching zones always make use of the parallel zone patching feature, independent if using LU or not. Following blog entry describes this very well :

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Thursday Feb 23, 2012

Q&A: Leng Tan, VP of Development, Discusses the New Oracle Database Lifecycle Management Solution

In this month's Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c InDepth Newsletter, Leng Tan, VP of Development for Database Manageability, discusses some of the issues facing IT today. In the interview, Leng talks about the ways administrators can address and overcome these challenges using Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c Database Lifecycle Management solution. Be sure to read the article to learn more!

To get the latest issue of the Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c InDepth Newsletter, subscribe here.

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