Monday Jun 23, 2014

Patch automation of Data Guard Databases takes a leap with EM12cR4


Patching has always been one of the many joys (or dreads) of Oracle DBAs. 
The effort compounds as the Database sprawl grows and the architecture complexity increases.  Additionally,  there is an increasing pressure to patch the systems with minimal or zero downtime. EM12c's Database patch automation functionality provides  an end-to-end management starting with proactive patch recommendations (like quarterly PSUs and CPUs), complete pre-flight checker to ensure predictable patching during maintenance window and  automation for patching the comprehensive list of products under the Oracle Database family.  ( EM12c Patch Automation overview

Patching has always been one of the many joys (or dreads) of Oracle DBAs. The effort compounds as the Database sprawl grows and the architecture complexity increases. Additionally, there is an increasing pressure to patch the systems with minimal or zero downtime. 

EM12c's Database patch automation functionality provides an end-to-end management starting with proactive patch recommendations (like quarterly PSUs and CPUs), complete pre-flight checker to ensure predictable patching during maintenance window and  automation for patching the comprehensive list of products under the Oracle Database family.  ( EM12c Patch Automation overview)

With the introduction of "Out of Place" patching in EM12c, the automation feature got a complete overhaul. Over the past 3 years I have seen customers moving to this mode to achieve their automation goals.  ( What is Out of Place?)

Patching Data guard environments (read as Primary and its corresponding Standby Databases) has always been a challenging task for the DBAs. 
In addition to handling the differences in steps needed for the configuration, the very nature of its distributed environment and incorporating any additional custom tasks makes it more demanding. Till now in EM we only supported automation in disparate steps and in “In Place” mode.

Starting 12.1.0.4 (EM12c R4), the support is enhanced to be more tighter, can be done in 'Out of Place' mode, and has new supplemental features to manage the process along with its additional tasks.

In this post we will take a closer look of the data guard stand by patching feature and then dive into a use case, you could try out in your environment.

[Read More]

Thursday Apr 24, 2014

The case for Snap Clone over point tools

Today, I stumbled over a competitor blog, conspicuous by its factual incorrectness on Enterprise Manager Snap Clone. However, I must compliment the author of the blog, because inadvertently, he has raised a point that we have been highlighting all along. The author, with reference to Dataguard and storage technologies, argues against the cobbling of technologies together and adding another technology stack to the mix without any automated management

Precisely the point! In the wide realm of technologies, there are necessities and there are accessories aka nice-to-haves. The necessities are technologies that are needed anyway, such as a high fidelity, high performance storage from a reputed vendor or a good DR solution for a mission critical database environment. Similarly, for any Oracle DBA worth his/her salt, Enterprise Manager 12c is a necessity, a part of the daily life. The Enterprise Manager agent, keeping vigil on every host, is therefore not an overhead, but the representative (the "agent" in true sense) of the DBA. Deep diagnostics, performance management, large scale configuration management, patching and compliance management make Enterprise Manager the darling of any Oracle DBA. All surveys suggest that any DBA spends considerable amount of time in Enterprise Manager for performing things beyond just data cloning, so why invest in an accessory for the cloning of Oracle test databases and unnecessarily proliferate the number of point tools (and possibly several instances of them) that you need to manage and maintain, not to ignore the past history that cites that very few such point tools solved customers' CAPEX and OPEX problems over the long run. It is like using spreadsheet for expenses and ERP for all other financial tasks.This is not to suggest that these point tools do not have good, innovative features. Over my tenure in the industry, I have come across several such tools with nice features, but often the hidden costs outweigh the benefits. Our position in this aspect has been consistent, whether it is on a competitor’s tool or our own. Few years back, we integrated My Oracle Support into Enterprise Manager with the same consistent goal that Enterprise Manager will serve as the single pane of glass for the Oracle ecosystem. Same has been our position on any product that we acquire.

Snap Clone's support for Dataguard and native storage stems from popular customer demand to leverage technologies they already invested in, and not create standalone islands of automation. Moreover, several customers have voiced in favor of the performance and scalability advantages that they would get by leveraging the native storage APIs. How else would you support one of the world's largest banks, a Snap Clone customer, who performs 60,000 (sixty thousand) data refreshes per year! In any case, that should not imply that we bind ourselves to any of those technologies. We do support cloning on various storage systems based on ZFS filesystem. Similarly, the Test Master refresh can be achieved with one among RMAN, Dataguard, Golden Gate or storage replication and optionally orchestrated with EM Job System.

Enterprise Manager 12c has taken a great step in delivering features via plugins that can be revisioned independent of the framework. An unwanted side effect is that the awareness often lags what is actually supported in the latest version of the product. For example, the filesystem support was introduced last Fall. And of course Enterprise Manager 12c Snap Clone supports RAC. My esteemed colleague and DBA par excellence, in her blog has highlighted some of these to dispel some of the prevalent awareness issues. Snap Clone's usage among the E-Business Suite and Developer community does not need any special accreditation. It is heavily used by the world's largest E-Business Suite Developer community-the Oracle E-Business Suite Engineering organization itself! It is true that Snap Clone does not support  restoration to any arbitrary point in time, but then our customers and prospects have not voiced a need for it. In reality, most customers want to perform intermediate data transformation such as masking and subsetting as they clone from production to test, and Enterprise Manager 12c already boasts of sophisticated data masking technologies, again via the same interface. It also includes testing features like Real Application Testing (RAT) that can complement and follow the test database creation. Future releases of Enterprise Manager will support a tighter integration among these features.

Snap Clone is delivered as a part of the Database as a Service feature set that has been pioneering, industry-leading and getting adopted at a great pace. Little wonder that we have already received a copious amount of Openworld paper submissions on the topic. In this emerging trend of DBaaS adoption, we find no reason to fragment the tasks such as fresh database creation, pluggable database provisioning and cloning across silo'ed point tools (not to mention broader PaaS capabilities which may be needed for complete application testing). Each use case could be different but needs a single service delivery platform. EM12c is that platform for Oracle. Period. So, think twice before 'adding another technology to the mix'. You do not need to.

Tuesday Nov 12, 2013

Automate RAC Cluster Upgrades using EM12c

One of the most arduous processes  in DB maintenance is upgrading Databases across major versions, especially for complex RAC Clusters.
With the release of Database Plug-in  (12.1.0.5.0), EM12c Rel 3 (12.1.0.3.0)  now supports automated upgrading of RAC Clusters in addition to Standalone Databases.

This automation includes:

  • Upgrade of the complete Cluster across the nodes. ( Example: 11.1.0.7 CRS, ASM, RAC DB  ->   11.2.0.4 or 12.1.0.1 GI, RAC DB) 
  • Best practices in tune with your operations, where you can automate upgrade in steps:
    Step 1: Upgrade the Clusterware to Grid Infrastructure (Allowing you to wait, test and then move to DBs).
    Step 2: Upgrade RAC DBs either separately or in group (Mass upgrade of RAC DB's in the cluster).
  • Standard pre-requisite checks like Cluster Verification Utility (CVU) and RAC checks
  • Division of Upgrade process into Non-downtime activities (like laying down the new Oracle Homes (OH), running checks) to Downtime Activities (like Upgrading Clusterware to GI, Upgrading RAC) there by lowering the downtime required.
  • Ability to configure Back up and Restore options as a part of this upgrade process. You can choose to :
    a. Take Backup via this process (either Guaranteed Restore Point (GRP) or RMAN)
    b. Set the procedure to pause just before the upgrade step to allow you to take a custom backup
    c. Ignore backup completely, if there are external mechanisms already in place. 

    Mass Upgrade of RAC using EM12c


High Level Steps:

  1. Select the Procedure "Upgrade Database" from Database Provisioning Home page.
  2. Choose the Target Type for upgrade and the Destination version
  3. Pick and choose the Cluster, it picks up the complete topology since the clusterware/GI isn't upgraded already
  4. Select the Gold Image of the destination version for deploying both the GI and RAC OHs
  5. Specify new OH patch, credentials, choose the Restore and Backup options, if required provide additional pre and post scripts
  6. Set the Break points in the procedure execution to isolate Downtime activities
  7. Submit and track the procedure's execution status. 

The animation below captures the steps in the wizard.  For step by step process and to understand the support matrix check this documentation link.

Explore the functionality!!

In the next blog, will talk about automating rolling Upgrades of Databases in Physical Standby Data Guard environment using Transient Logical Standby.

Thursday Oct 18, 2012

Early Adopters of Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c Report Agility and Productivity Benefits

Earlier this month at the Oracle Open World 2012, we celebrated the first anniversary of Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c . Early adopters of  Oracle Enterprise manager 12c have benefited from its federated self-service access to complete application stacks, automated provisioning, elastic scalability, metering, and charge-back capabilities.

Crimson Consulting Group recently interviewed multiple early adopters of Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c and captured their finding in a white Paper "Real-World Benefits of Private Cloud: Early Adopters of Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c Report Agility and Productivity Gains".  Here is summary of the finding :-


On October 25th at 10 AM pacific time, Kirk Bangstad from the Crimson Consulting group will join us in a live webcast and share what learnt from the early adopters of Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c. Don't miss this chance to hear how private clouds could impact your business and ask questions from our experts.

Webcast: Real-World Benefits of Private Cloud
Early Adopters of Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c Report Agility and Productivity Benefits

Date: Thursday, October 25, 2012
Time: 10:00 AM PDT | 1:00 PM EDT


Register Today

All attendees will receive the White Paper: Real-World Benefits of Private Cloud: Early Adopters of Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c Report Agility and Productivity Gains.

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Monday May 21, 2012

Benefits of using Ops Center to deploy and manage Solaris 11

One of the more significant new features in Oracle Enterprise Manager Ops Center 12c is the ability to install Ops Center on Oracle Solaris 11, and to deploy and manage systems running Solaris 11.  The Solaris 11 capabilities are in addition to the analogous features for Solaris 10 and Linux, which can all be handled from the same Ops Center infrastructure.

When the Ops Center Enterprise Controller (EC) is installed on a system running Solaris 11, the EC can create a Solaris 11 Software Update Library containing Oracle Solaris Image Packaging System (IPS) content that is synchronized with the main Oracle repository at pkg.oracle.com. The Ops Center managed Solaris 11 repository becomes the package (pkg) publisher for downstream Solaris 11 deployments and updates on all Solaris 11 systems being managed by Ops Center.

Ops Center provides the ability to define Solaris 11 OS and Software Profiles comprised of Oracle Solaris 11 packages, user-supplied custom packages, scripts, and other files.  Such Software Profiles profiles can then be used to install and update software on systems already running Solaris 11 in a structured and consistent way.  Ops Center not only caches the main Oracle Solaris IPS repository, but more importantly it gives admins the ability to define their own preferred collection of packages so that systems can easily be kept in sync with each other, running a well-defined, life-cycle-managed Standard Operating Environment (SOE), instead of just whatever the latest content is at pkg.oracle.com.

Ops Center 12c also adds Solaris 11 features for bare-metal OS Provisioning, based on the Solaris 11 Auto Install (AI) facility.  Ops Center configures the Solaris 11 AI in a way that shields admins from needing to write custom AI manifests or custom "first boot" packages.  Solaris 11 deployments using Ops Center follow similar profile-based patterns as for Solaris 10 or Linux, all of which can all be deployed from the same Ops Center infrastructure running on Solaris 11.  The gory details of all these different times of bare-metal OS Provisioning are handled automatically for the user so that he or she does not need to put time and resources into manually creating and maintaining infrastructure for deploying different OS's natively -- Solaris 11 with AI, Solaris 10 JumpStart with JET, or Linux with Kickstart or AutoYast.  All of those OS's are handled by Ops Center under the covers, based on whatever network boot capability the OS requires (PXE/DHCP, WANBOOT, or AI), and all from the same Ops Center infrastructure running on Solaris 11.

Specific to Solaris 11 OS Provisioning (via AI), Ops Center provides its own "first-boot" package+scripts to customize the Solaris 11 deployment, and in particular this approach automatically installs the Ops Center agent.  With the Ops Center Agent in place right from the start, it is easy to handle post-install steps using the Ops Center features for handling Solaris 11 OS and Software Profiles containing additional packages, scripts, and content from the Solaris 11 Software Library, described above.

Tying bare-metal Solaris 11 deployment and post-install customization together is a key way that Ops Center simplifies the overall life-cycle management for Solaris 11 (in addition to Solaris 10 and Linux).   For example, a top-level plan based on "Configure and Install Logical Domains" can create numerous Logical Domains into an Oracle VM Server for SPARC "Server Pool" and provision Solaris 11 into each LDom Guest based on a powerful multi-step "Install Server" plan.  Such a plan can cover the end-to-end steps for installing and updating the OS, running scripts and adjusting monitoring parameters, etc.

Here is an example of the kinds of activities that can be performed in conjunction an OS Deployment, or separately, depending on the need:

Oracle Enterprise Manager Ops Center 12c Deployment Plan

NOTE: In the above example, the last step "Create Guests" can be used to create one or more Solaris Containers within the LDom Guest, rounding out the end-to-end deployment all the way from LDom Guest to Solaris 11 Global Zone to multiple Solaris Containers, if so desired.

One of the nicest aspect of deploying and managing Solaris 11 using Ops Center Plans and Profiles is that the same content can be applied as updates to existing Solaris 11 systems, aligned to the same content as chained off a bare-metal OS Provisioning.  It is up to the user which steps they want to include in a deployment plan -- whether they are updating Software Profiles on systems deployed 6 months ago to match the latest standard, or they are deploying new systems based on that same standard, Ops Center provides the means to insure that the outcome is consistent.

Here is an example of the kinds of activities that can be performed on an existing Solaris 11 OS -- either ad hoc, or immediately after a Solaris 11 OS Provisioning step, so that whether the life-cycle started with a new system, or the intent is to update a system deployed six months ago, the outcome can be the same:

S11 Update Multi-Step Plan

In short, Ops Center running on Solaris 11 can manage Solaris 10 and Linux systems, all from a common infrastructure, and all based on a simplified, consistent, profile- and plan-based way to do the OS and Software deployments and updates.  The net effect is an easy to use way to managing the life-cycle of heterogeneous systems, in a very consistent way through automation and re-use.

Please let us know what you think?  Until next time...
\Leon
--

Leon Shaner | Senior IT/Product Architect
Systems Management | Ops Center Engineering @ Oracle

The views expressed on this [blog; Web site] are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Oracle.



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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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