Thursday Mar 05, 2015

Using Variables in Operational Plans

I saw a question recently about variables in operational plans, which I thought I'd discuss. If you're unfamiliar with them, operational plans let you create or upload scripts, then run those scripts on targeted systems through Ops Center.

The question was about the variables you can use in these scripts. There are two kinds of variables you can use: user-defined ones, which you have to create, or system defined variables which are defined by Ops Center. The system defined variables are listed in the documentation, but the questioner wasn't sure what each variable actually was. So, here's a list of the useful system variables and what they do:

  • $OC_UFN - The target asset's user-friendly name - the same name that's used in the UI.

  • $OC_JOB_ID - The Job ID number for the job that's applying the operational plan. A lot of users use this variable to help track changes that are made by a script.

  • $OC_TARGET_NAME - This is Ops Center's internal name for the target asset.

  • $OC_TARGET_TYPE - This is the type of asset that the script is being applied to.

There's more information about creating and applying Operational Plans in the Feature Reference Guide.

Thursday Feb 12, 2015

Discovery Changes

There were a few changes to the discovery process in Ops Center 12.2.2. If you've already upgraded, you might have noticed some of them, but I thought I'd give you the rundown.

The first change is an enhancement for zones and LDoms discovery. In version 12.2.2, when you discover a control domain or global zone and manage it with an Agent, any non-global zones or logical domains on them are discovered automatically. There are also some performance enhancements in this area, so the discoveries ought to go quicker now than in past.

The other change is that the Find Assets wizard, which searches for assets using service tags, is now disabled by default. This is mostly because, since this method searches for service tag-equipped products on all networks associated with a Proxy Controller, it can end up being a big resource drain/timesink in a very large environment. If you want, you can still enable it.

Thursday Feb 05, 2015

Access Point counts in the OCDoctor

When you're trying to figure out questions of scaling in Ops Center, it's important to be able to tell exactly how much load the different parts of the infrastructure are handling. In Ops Center, the relevant number is the access point count. An access point is a connection between a Proxy Controller and a managed asset. We don't just count the number of assets directly because, if different parts of an asset are managed by different Proxy Controllers, that puts more load on the system.

There's a tool in the OCDoctor's toolbox directory that lets you count the access points in your environment. The AssetCount.sh script gives you the total number of access points managed by the Enterprise Controller, and gives additional information depending on which option you use:

  • The standard option shows the number of access points for each Proxy Controller - both the total and a detailed breakdown by asset category.
  • The machine option gives a list of the access points on each Proxy Controller in machine-readable format.
  • The agent option shows, for each Proxy Controller, how many assets are agent-managed, how many are agentless, and how many are SPs.

The Scaling and Performance Guide explains how to use the AssetCount.sh script. You can find it in the version 12.2.2 documentation library.

Thursday Jan 29, 2015

Database Versions

I've seen a few questions about what Oracle Database versions are supported with which versions of Ops Center, so I thought I'd clarify that point a bit.

 If you're using Ops Center 12.2.2, the latest version, and you have a customer-managed database, you can use Oracle Database 11.2.0.3 or 11.2.0.4. If you're using an embedded database, the upgrade to Ops Center 12.2.2 includes an upgrade of the embedded database to 11.2.0.4.

If you're using Ops Center 12.2.0 or 12.2.1, the supported database version is 11.2.0.3, for both embedded and customer-managed databases.

Thursday Jan 22, 2015

Enabling and Testing ASR

The Auto Service Request feature in Ops Center, when it's properly enabled, can automatically generate service requests based on qualified incidents in Ops Center, helping you get the systems up and running again quickly. The questions, then, are how do you enable it properly, and short of taking a crowbar to your new M7, how can you be certain it's working?

One of the new How-Tos that we've just released, Enabling and Testing Auto Service Request, can help you answer these questions. It talks about the prerequisites, explains how to add contact information and enable ASR, and shows you how to use a test trap to verify that ASRs are being created correctly.

This How-To is just one of the improvements in Ops Center 12.2.2. Take a look at the What's New for more information about these improvements, and the Deploy and Operate libraries for more how-tos.

Thursday Jan 15, 2015

Proxy Controller Backups

There were a number of new features introduced in Ops Center 12.2.2. One of the shiny ones is an expansion of the backup and recovery capabilities to include Proxy Controllers.

It's always been possible to create a backup of the Enterprise Controller and the co-located Proxy Controller using the ecadm backup command. Now, in version 12.2.2, there's a similar command - proxyadm backup - to create a backup of a Proxy Controller, including all of its asset data. You can save off this file and use it to restore the Proxy Controller to its backed-up state.

The only trick with OC backups is that the OS images directory isn't part of the backup file for size reasons, but they can be backed up separately.

The Backup and Recovery chapter of the Administration guide explains how to back up your Proxy Controllers and Enterprise Controller, and the What's New goes over many of the other new features in 12.2.2.

Thursday Jan 08, 2015

Sizing and Performance Guide

When you're planning an Ops Center deployment, planning to expand a datacenter where Ops Center is installed, or looking to optimize your Ops Center deployment, it's vital to have information about scaling and performance. You need to know whether your new systems will need another Proxy Controller, or whether the system you're planning on using for your Enterprise Controller is beefy enough.

We've added a Sizing and Performance Guide to the Ops Center library, to help you answer these sorts of questions for your environment:

  • The Resource Utilization chapter discusses the relative resource usage of common Ops Center uses, such as OS provisioning, update management, and virtualization.
  • The Scaling and Performance Guidelines chapter provides detailed information about the resources used by, and the scaling capabilities of, Ops Center components such as the Enterprise Controller, Proxy Controllers, database, virtualization controllers, and networks.
  • The Reference Systems chapter provides several reference system specifications for you to use in your planning.
  • The Report Service Configuration Properties appendix explains how to edit the reporting properties, or disable reporting entirely, to improve performance.

You can find this document, along with the rest of the documentation, in the Ops Center 12.2.2 documentation library.

Thursday Dec 18, 2014

Upgrading to version 12.2.2

Now that version 12.2.2 of Ops Center is out, you might be interested in upgrading.

We've put together a guide that walks you through the upgrade process. Each type of environment - HA or single Enterprise Controller - has separate chapters explaining how to do the upgrade through the UI or from the command line.

Something to note is that, if you're using an embedded database, the upgrade includes an upgrade of the DB to Oracle Database 11.2.0.4. If you're using an embedded database, you'll have to log into MOS and download the new DB bundles. The doc explains this step too, but if you've done upgrades in the past it'll be new to you. If you're using a customer-managed database, 11.2.0.4 is also now officially supported.

Thursday Jun 12, 2014

OVM Server for SPARC Enhancements

Oracle VM Servers for SPARC saw a few improvements in Ops Center 12.2. In addition to brownfield support, we've made a number of enhancements to let you add OVM Servers for SPARC to a Server Pool and enable migration of their guests.

-When you discover an OVMSS Control Domain and manage it with an Ops Center Agent, its guests are automatically discovered as well. The guest metadata is initially put in the local metadata library in the /guests directory, but you can move it from one library to another to enable migration.

-Once you've discovered an OVMSS control domain, you can add it to a server pool, even if it's already configured and running logical domains. Even if live migration between OVMSS systems isn't possible due to CPU incompatibilities, you can still put them in a server pool together and enable guest recovery by configuring the CPU architecture of the guest domain as generic.

-You can mark a guest's storage as shared to indicate that it's available to other managed OVM Server systems with the same back-end name. This lets you use storage not fully managed in an Ops Center library as part of guest migration.

Put together, these enhancements make it much easier to manage and maintain OVMSS guests.

Thursday Jun 05, 2014

Asset Discovery Video

A while back, I mentioned that we'd started putting together videos that explain some aspects of Ops Center. (The first one I talked about shows you how to create a server pool.) Well, there's another video that I wanted to show you; this one is about discovering assets.

There are a few different tools you can use to discover assets in Ops Center, each one appropriate for different types of assets or different environmental needs. Salvador put together this video that walks you through the options in the Add Assets wizard, explaining when each option is used and how to use them:

We're adding more videos as we go, so if there's something else you'd like to see explained in video form, let me know.

Thursday May 29, 2014

Brownfield Support for OVMSS

The area of virtualization saw quite a few enhancements with version 12.2. There's one particular virtualization enhancement that can make a big difference for a lot of people: support for brownfield Oracle VM Servers for SPARC.

Brownfield refers to Oracle VM Servers for SPARC that were created outside of Ops Center. In older versions of Ops Center, you couldn't really do anything with them - Ops Center could only manage OVM Servers that it created. If you had OVM Servers outside of Ops Center, you'd have to recreate them if you wanted to manage them.

In 12.2, though, this problem is cleared up. You can discover and manage OVM Servers for SPARC that you created outside of Ops Center, so long as the LDom Manager is running. When you discover the control domain, all of the logical domains are automatically discovered and managed and appear under the control domain in the Asset tree.

If you want to use server pools and migrate the logical domains to a different Oracle VM Server for SPARC system, you'll need to move the metadata to a shared library and use shared Fibre Channel or iSCSI LUNs for the guest domain storage and add the server to a server pool.

See the Oracle VM Server for SPARC chapter for more information.

Thursday May 22, 2014

Help in the UI

One of the things that we expanded in Ops Center 12.2 was the UI help. There are a few ways that you can get help in the UI now.

The first is the help link in the masthead. This provides you with links to the documentation, both to the doc site in general and to specific chapters in the Feature Reference Guide and the Administration Guide:


There's also a help tab in all of the wizards. It gives you some contextual information and assistance with the specific step of the wizard that you're looking at:


Finally, there are a few wizards that we've made videos for, such as the Creating a Server Pool video. Wizards that have video help have a video icon that links to the video:


We tried to make it so that some help is available, no matter where you are in the UI. Hopefully, this walkthrough has been helpful too.

Thursday May 15, 2014

Expanded Workflows

Along with the new and expanded content for 12.2, we added quite a few new workflows. I thought I'd talk a bit about the philosophy behind these docs and show you how they work.

A workflow is a document that explains how to perform a broad task by linking together multiple how-tos. It explains the task and the prerequisites, and shows you which how-tos you'll need to follow (in what order) based on your environment and the result that you're shooting for.

As an example, we'll look at the Deploy Storage Libraries workflow. It's centered on this image:

The left side shows the prerequisites. The right side presents a set of choices (indicated in white), then directs you to the necessary how-tos (the blue boxes) based on your responses. On the Deploy and Operate how-to tabs, each Workflow has its component how-tos listed immediately beneath it, like this:

Take a look at those two tabs (Deploy and Operate) to start using these workflows.

Thursday May 08, 2014

CLI Enhancements

Ops Center's Command Line Interface saw a few improvements in 12.2. If you haven't used it, by the way, Ops Center's CLI is a handy tool if you prefer CLI interactions over the UI or if you want to create your own scripts for automation.

The biggest improvement was in the area of certificates. When you connect to your Enterprise Controller from a remote system, you must accept the server's certificates. Once accepted, these certificates are stored in a local trust store and don't need to be accepted each time. You can also use the -a | --accept-all-certificates option to automatically accept these certificates, and use the new certificates mode to view and manage the list of trusted certificates for remote ECs.

There's also a new option, -C <channel>,  that you can use in the Update Mode to specify a channel name when you're creating an OS update profile or working with OS update content.

For more information about the CLI, you should take a look at the Command Line Interface Guide.

Thursday May 01, 2014

New Documents in the 12.2 Library

In addition to the new features introduced in 12.2, we've also added some new books to the documentation to make the product easier to use. Here's a rundown of the new books:

  • Upgrade Guide: This book contains all of the information you need to upgrade your environment to version 12.2. Each chapter focuses on a specific environment and upgrade process, so you can focus on the information that's relevant to you.

  • Ports and Protocols Guide: This book lists the ports and protocols that Ops Center uses and the websites that it accesses when in Connected Mode. This is particularly handy if you're setting up a new installation.

  • Feature Reference Appendix Guide: This book includes several appendixes that we've moved out of the Feature Reference guide in order to streamline it. It includes the Asset Attributes tables, and the Expression Query Language, Library Incidents, and API appendixes.

  • Oracle Enterprise Manager Ops Center Command Line Interface Guide: This guide explains how to use the Ops Center CLI, and includes the CLI man pages.

  • How Tos and workflows: We've added quite a few How-tos and workflows in 12.2. How-tos are short documents that walk you through a specific procedure, and workflows string these how-tos together to complete larger tasks. These docs are collected in the Deploy and Operate libraries.

These new books, as well as the rest of the documentation, are all available in the documentation library.

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This blog discusses issues encountered in Ops Center and highlights the ways in which the documentation can help you

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