Monday Dec 10, 2012

CISDI Cloud - Industrial Cloud Computing Platform based on Oracle Products

In today's era, Cloud Computing is becoming integral to the vision and corporate strategy of leading organizations and is often seen as a key business driver to achieve growth and innovation. Headquartered in Chongqing, China, CISDI Engineering Co., Ltd. is a large state-owned engineering company, offering consulting, engineering design, EPC contracting, and equipment integration services to steel producers all over the world. With over 50 years of experience, CISDI offers quality services for every aspect of production for projects in the metal industry and the company has evolved into a leading international engineering service group with 18 subsidiaries providing complete lifecycle for E&C projects.

CISDI group delegation led by Mr. Zhaohui Yu, CEO of CISDI Group, Mr. Zhiyou Li, CEO of CISDI Info, Mr. Qing Peng, CTO of CISDI Info and Mr. Xin Xiao, Head of CISDI Info's R&D joined Oracle OpenWorld 2012 and presented a very impressive cloud initiative case in their session titled “E&C Industry Solution in CISDI Cloud - An Industrial Cloud Computing Platform Based on Oracle Products”.

CISDI group plans to expand through three phases in the construction of its cloud computing platform: first, it will relocate its existing technologies to Oracle systems, along with establishing private cloud for CISDI; secondly, it will gradually provide mixed cloud services for its subsidiaries and partners; and finally it plans to launch an industrial cloud with a highly mature, secure and scalable environment providing cloud services for customers in the engineering construction and steel industries, among others. “CISDI Cloud” will become the growth engine for the organization to expand its global reach through online services and achieving the strategic objective of being the preferred choice of E&C companies worldwide.


The new cloud computing platform is designed to provide access to the shared computing resources pool in a self-service, dynamic, elastic and measurable way. It’s flexible and scalable grid structure can support elastic expansion and sustainable growth, and can bring significant benefits in speed, agility and efficiency. Further, the platform can greatly cut down deployment and maintenance costs.

CISDI delegation highlighted these points as the key reasons why the group decided to have a strategic collaboration with Oracle for building this world class industrial cloud -
- Oracle’s strategy: Open, Complete and Integrated
- Oracle as the only company who can provide engineered system, with complete product chain of hardware and software
- Exadata, Exalogic, EM 12c to provide solid foundation for "CISDI Cloud"

The cloud blueprint and advanced architecture for industrial cloud computing platform presented in the session shows how Oracle products and technologies together with industrial applications from CISDI can provide end-end portfolio of E&C industry services in cloud.



CISDI group was recognized for business leadership and innovative solutions and was presented with Engineering and Construction Industry Excellence Award during Oracle OpenWorld.

Wednesday Dec 05, 2012

Amazon Web Services (AWS) Plug-in for Oracle Enterprise Manager

Contributed by Sunil Kunisetty and Daniel Chan

Introduction and Architecture

As more and more enterprises deploy some of their non-critical workload on Amazon Web Services (AWS), it’s becoming critical to monitor those public AWS resources along side with their on-premise resources.

Oracle recently announced Oracle Enterprise Manager Plug-in for Amazon Web Services (AWS) allows you to achieve that goal. The on-premise Oracle Enterprise Manager (EM12c) acts as a single tool to get a comprehensive view of your public AWS resources as well as your private cloud resources.  By deploying the plug-in within your Cloud Control environment, you gain the following management features:

  • Monitor EBS, EC2 and RDS instances on Amazon Web Services
  • Gather performance metrics and configuration details for AWS instances
  • Raise alerts and violations based on thresholds set on monitoring
  • Generate reports based on the gathered data

Users of this Plug-in can leverage the rich Enterprise Manager features such as system promotion, incident generation based on thresholds, integration with 3rd party ticketing applications etc. AWS Monitoring via this Plug-in is enabled via Amazon CloudWatch API and the users of this Plug-in are responsible for supplying credentials for accessing AWS and the CloudWatch API.

This Plug-in can only be deployed on an EM12C R2 platform and agent version should be at minimum 12c R2.Here is a pictorial view of the overall architecture:


Here are a few key features:

  • Rich and exhaustive list of metrics. Metrics can be gathered from an Agent running outside AWS.
  • Critical configuration information.
  • Custom Home Pages with charts and AWS configuration information.
  • Generate incidents based on thresholds set on monitoring data.

Discovery and Monitoring

AWS instances can be added to EM12C either via the EM12c User Interface (UI) or the EM12c Command Line Interface ( EMCLI)  by providing the AWS credentials (Secret Key and Access Key Id) as well as resource specific properties as target properties. Here is a quick mapping of target types and properties for each AWS resources

AWS Resource Type

Target Type

Resource specific properties

EBS Resource

Amazon EBS Service

CloudWatch base URI, EC2 Base URI, Period, Volume Id, Proxy Server and Port

EC2 Resource

Amazon EC2 Service

CloudWatch base URI, EC2 Base URI, Period, Instance  Id, Proxy Server and Port

RDS Resource

Amazon RDS Service

CloudWatch base URI, RDS Base URI, Period, Instance  Id, Proxy Server and Port

Proxy server and port are optional and are only needed if the agent is within the firewall.

Here is an emcli example to add an EC2 target. Please read the Installation and Readme guide for more details and step-by-step instructions to deploy  the plugin and adding the AWS the instances.

./emcli add_target \

      -name="<target name>" \

      -type="AmazonEC2Service" \

      -host="<host>" \

      -properties="ProxyHost=<proxy server>;ProxyPort=<proxy port>;EC2_BaseURI=http://ec2.<region>.amazonaws.com;BaseURI=http://monitoring.<region>.amazonaws.com;InstanceId=<EC2 instance Id>;Period=<data point periond>"  \

    -subseparator=properties="="

./emcli set_monitoring_credential \

                -set_name="AWSKeyCredentialSet"  \

                -target_name="<target name>"  \

                -target_type="AmazonEC2Service" \

                -cred_type="AWSKeyCredential"  \

                -attributes="AccessKeyId:<access key id>;SecretKey:<secret key>"

Emcli utility is found under the ORACLE_HOME of EM12C install. Once the instance is discovered, the target will show up under the ‘All Targets’ list under “Amazon EC2 Service’.

Once the instances are added, one can navigate to the custom homepages for these resource types. The custom home pages not only include critical metrics, but also vital configuration parameters and incidents raised for these instances.  By mapping the configuration parameters as instance properties, we can slice-and-dice and group various AWS instance by leveraging the EM12C Config search feature. The following configuration properties and metrics are collected for these Resource types.

Resource Type

Configuration Properties

Metrics

EBS Resource

Volume Id, Volume Type, Device Name, Size, Availability Zone

Response: Status

Utilization: QueueLength, IdleTime

Volume Statistics: ReadBrandwith, WriteBandwidth, ReadThroughput, WriteThroughput

Operation Statistics: ReadSize, WriteSize, ReadLatency, WriteLatency

EC2 Resource

Instance ID, Owner Id, Root Device type, Instance Type. Availability Zone

Response: Status

CPU Utilization: CPU Utilization

Disk I/O:  DiskReadBytes, DiskWriteBytes, DiskReadOps, DiskWriteOps, DiskReadRate, DiskWriteRate, DiskIOThroughput, DiskReadOpsRate, DiskWriteOpsRate, DiskOperationThroughput

Network I/O : NetworkIn, NetworkOut, NetworkInRate, NetworkOutRate, NetworkThroughput

RDS Resource

Instance ID, Database Engine Name, Database Engine Version, Database Instance Class, Allocated Storage Size, Availability Zone

Response: Status

Disk I/O:  ReadIOPS, WriteIOPS, ReadLatency, WriteLatency, ReadThroughput, WriteThroughput

DB Utilization:  BinLogDiskUsage, CPUUtilization, DatabaseConnections, FreeableMemory, ReplicaLag, SwapUsage

Custom Home Pages

As mentioned above, we have custom home pages for these target types that include basic configuration information,  last 24 hours availability, top metrics and the incidents generated. Here are few snapshots.

EBS Instance Home Page:


EC2 Instance Home Page:


RDS Instance Home Page:


Further Reading:

1)      AWS Plugin download

2)      Installation and  Read Me.

3)      Screenwatch on SlideShare

4)      Extensibility Programmer's Guide

5)      Amazon Web Services

Thursday Nov 08, 2012

HDFC Bank's Journey to Oracle Private Database Cloud

One of the key takeaways from a recent post by Sushil Kumar is the importance of business initiative that drives the transformational journey from legacy IT to enterprise private cloud. The journey that leads to a agile, self-service and efficient infrastructure with reduced complexity and enables IT to deliver services more closely aligned with business requirements.

Nilanjay Bhattacharjee, AVP, IT of HDFC Bank presented a real-world case study based on one such initiative in his Oracle OpenWorld session titled "HDFC BANK Journey into Oracle Database Cloud with EM 12c DBaaS". The case study highlighted in this session is from HDFC Bank’s Lending Business Segment, which comprises roughly 50% of Bank’s top line. Bank’s Lending Business is always under pressure to launch “New Schemes” to compete and stay ahead in this segment and IT has to keep up with this challenging business requirement. Lending related applications are highly dynamic and go through constant changes and every single and minor change in each related application is required to be thoroughly UAT tested certified before they are certified for production rollout. This leads to a constant pressure in IT for rapid provisioning of UAT databases on an ongoing basis to enable faster time to market.

Nilanjay joined Sushil Kumar, VP, Product Strategy, Oracle, during the Enterprise Manager general session at Oracle OpenWorld 2012. Let's watch what Nilanjay had to say about their recent Database cloud deployment.

“Agility” in launching new business schemes became the key business driver for private database cloud adoption in the Bank. Nilanjay spent an hour discussing it during his session. Let's look at why Database-as-a-Service(DBaaS) model was need of the hour in this case  -

  • Average 3 days to provision UAT Database for Loan Management Application
  • Silo’ed UAT environment with Average 30% utilization
  • Compliance requirement consume UAT testing resources
  • DBA activities leads to $$ paid to SI for provisioning databases manually
  • Overhead in managing configuration drift between production and test environments
  • Rollout impact/delay on new business initiatives

The private database cloud implementation progressed through 4 fundamental phases - Standardization, Consolidation, Automation, Optimization of UAT infrastructure. Project scoping was carried out and end users and stakeholders were engaged early on right from planning phase and including all phases of implementation.

  • Standardization and Consolidation phase involved multiple iterations of planning to first standardize on infrastructure, db versions, patch levels, configuration, IT processes etc and with database level consolidation project onto Exadata platform. It was also decided to have existing AIX UAT DB landscape covered and EM 12c DBaaS solution being platform agnostic supported this model well.
  • Automation and Optimization phase provided the necessary Agility, Self-Service and efficiency and this was made possible via EM 12c DBaaS. EM 12c DBaaS Self-Service/SSA Portal was setup with required zones, quotas, service templates, charge plan defined. There were 2 zones implemented - Exadata zone  primarily for UAT and benchmark testing for databases running on Exadata platform and second zone was for AIX setup to cover other databases those running on AIX. Metering and Chargeback/Showback capabilities provided business and IT the framework for cloud optimization and also visibility into cloud usage.

More details on UAT cloud implementation, related building blocks and EM 12c DBaaS solution are covered in Nilanjay's OpenWorld session here.

Some of the key Benefits achieved from UAT cloud initiative are -

  • New business initiatives can be easily launched due to rapid provisioning of UAT Databases [ ~3 hours ]
  • Drastically cut down $$ on SI for DBA Activities due to Self-Service
  • Effective usage of infrastructure leading to  better ROI
  • Empowering  consumers to provision database using Self-Service
  • Control on project schedule with DB end date aligned to project plan submitted during provisioning
  • Databases provisioned through Self-Service are monitored in EM and auto configured for Alerts and KPI
  • Regulatory requirement of database does not impact existing project in queue

This table below shows typical list of activities and tasks involved when a end user requests for a UAT database. EM 12c DBaaS solution helped reduce UAT database provisioning time from roughly 3 days down to 3 hours and this timing also includes provisioning time for database with production scale data (ranging from 250 G to 2 TB of data) -


And it's not just about time to provision,  this initiative has enabled an agile, efficient and transparent UAT environment where end users are empowered with real control of cloud resources and IT's role is shifted as enabler of strategic services instead of being administrator of all user requests. The strong collaboration between IT and business community right from planning to implementation to go-live has played the key role in achieving this common goal of enterprise private cloud. Finally, real cloud is here and this cloud is accompanied with rain (business benefits) as well !

For more information, please go to Oracle Enterprise Manager  web page or  follow us at : 

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Monday Nov 05, 2012

Clouds Everywhere But not a Drop of Rain – Part 3

I was sharing with you how a broad-based transformation such as cloud will increase agility and efficiency of an organization if process re-engineering is part of the plan.  I have also stressed on the key enterprise requirements such as “broad and deep solutions, “running your mission critical applications” and “automated and integrated set of capabilities”. Let me walk you through some key cloud attributes such as “elasticity” and “self-service” and what they mean for an enterprise class cloud. I will also talk about how we at Oracle have taken a very enterprise centric view to developing cloud solutions and how our products have been specifically engineered to address enterprise cloud needs.

Cloud Elasticity and Enterprise Applications Requirements

Easy and quick scalability for a short-period of time is the signature of cloud based solutions. It is this elasticity that allows you to dynamically redistribute your resources according to business priorities, helps increase your overall resource utilization, and reduces operational costs by allowing you to get the most out of your existing investment.

Most public clouds are offering a instant provisioning mechanism of compute power (CPU, RAM, Disk), customer pay for the instance-hours(and bandwidth) they use, adding computing resources at peak times and removing them when they are no longer needed. This type of “just-in-time” serving of compute resources is well known for mid-tiers “state less” servers such as web application servers and web servers that just need another machine to start and run on it but what does it really mean for an enterprise application and its underlying data? Most enterprise applications are not as quite as “state less” and justifiably so. As such, how do you take advantage of cloud elasticity and make it relevant for your enterprise apps? This is where Cloud meets Grid Computing.

At Oracle, we have invested enormous amount of time, energy and resources in creating enterprise grid solutions. All our technology products offer built-in elasticity via clustering and dynamic scaling. With products like Real Application Clusters (RAC), Automatic Storage Management, WebLogic Clustering, and Coherence In-Memory Grid, we allow all your enterprise applications to benefit from Cloud elasticity –both vertically and horizontally - without requiring any application changes.

A number of technology vendors take a rather simplistic route of starting up additional or removing unneeded VM as the "Cloud Scale-Out" solution. While this may work for stateless mid-tier servers where load balancers can handle the addition and remove of instances transparently but following a similar approach for the database tier - often called as "database sharding" - requires significant application modification and typically does not work with off the shelf packaged applications. Technologies like Oracle Database Real Application Clusters, Automatic Storage Management, etc. on the other hand bring the benefits of incremental scalability and on-demand elasticity to ANY application by providing a simplified abstraction layers where the application does not need deal with data spread over multiple database instances. Rather they just talk to a single database and the database software takes care of aggregating resources across multiple hardware components. It is the technologies like these that truly make a cloud solution relevant for enterprises. 

For customers who are looking for a next generation hardware consolidation platform, our engineered systems (e.g. Exadata, Exalogic) not only provide incredible amount of performance and capacity, they also reduce the data center complexity and simplify operations.

Assemble, Deploy and Manage Enterprise Applications for Cloud

Products like Oracle Virtual assembly builder (OVAB) resolve the complex problem of bringing the cloud speed to complex multi-tier applications. With assemblies, you can not only provision all components of a multi-tier application and wire them together by push of a button, other aspects of application lifecycle, such as real-time application testing, scale-up/scale-down, performance and availability monitoring, etc., are also automated using Oracle Enterprise Manager. 

An essential criteria for an enterprise cloud to succeed is the ability to ensure business service levels especially when business users have either full visibility on the usage cost with a “show back” or a “charge back”. With Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c, we have created the most comprehensive cloud management solution in the industry that is capable of managing business service levels “applications-to-disk” in a enterprise private cloud – all from a single console. It is the only cloud management platform in the industry that allows you to deliver infrastructure, platform and application cloud services out of the box. Moreover, it offers integrated and complete lifecycle management of the cloud - including planning and set up, service delivery, operations management, metering and chargeback, etc .  Sounds unbelievable? Well, just watch this space for more details on how Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c is the nerve center of Oracle Cloud!

Our cloud solution portfolio is also the broadest and most deep in the industry  - covering public, private, hybrid, Infrastructure, platform and applications clouds. It is no coincidence therefore that the Oracle Cloud today offers the most comprehensive set of public cloud services in the industry.  And to a large part, this has been made possible thanks to our years on investment in creating cloud enabling technologies. 

Summary 

But the intent of this blog post isn't to dwell on how great our solutions are (these are just some examples to illustrate how we at Oracle have approached this problem space). Rather it is to help you ask the right questions before you embark on your cloud journey.  So to summarize, here are the key takeaways.      

  • It is critical that you are clear on why you are building the cloud. Successful organizations keep business benefits as the first and foremost cloud objective. On the other hand, those who approach this purely as a technology project are more likely to fail.
  • Think about where you want to be in 3-5 years before you get started. Your long terms objectives should determine what your first step ought to be. As obvious as it may seem, more people than not make the first move without knowing where they are headed. 
  • Don’t make the mistake of equating cloud to virtualization and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS). Spinning a VM on-demand will give some short term relief to your IT staff but is unlikely to solve your larger business problems. As such, even if IaaS is your first step towards a more comprehensive cloud, plan the roadmap around those higher level services before you begin. And ask your vendors on how they are going to be your partners in this journey.
  • Capabilities like self-service access and chargeback/showback are absolutely critical if you really expect your cloud to be transformational. Your business won't see the full benefits of the cloud until it empowers them with same kind of control and transparency that they are used to while using a public cloud service. 
  • Evaluate the benefits of integration, as opposed to blindly following the best-of-breed strategy. Integration is a huge challenge and more so in a cloud environment. There are enormous costs associated with stitching a solution out of disparate components and even more in maintaining it.

Hope you found these ideas helpful. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts and experiences.

Tuesday Oct 23, 2012

Clouds, Clouds, Clouds Everywhere, Not a Drop of Rain!

At the recently concluded Oracle OpenWorld 2012, the center of discussion was clearly Cloud. Over the five action packed days, I got to meet a large number of customers and most of them had serious interest in all things cloud.  Public Cloud - particularly the Oracle Cloud - clearly got a lot of attention and interest. I think the use cases and the value proposition for public cloud is pretty straight forward. However, when it comes to private cloud, there were some interesting revelations.  Well, I shouldn’t really call them revelations since they are pretty consistent with what I have heard from customers at other conferences as well as during 1:1 interactions.

While the interest in enterprise private cloud remains to be very high, only a handful of enterprises have truly embarked on a journey to create what the purists would call true private cloud - with capabilities such as self-service and chargeback/show back. For a large majority, today's reality is simply consolidation and virtualization - and they are quite far off from creating an agile, self-service and transparent IT infrastructure which is what the enterprise cloud is all about.  Even a handful of those who have actually implemented a close-to-real enterprise private cloud have taken an infrastructure centric approach and are seeing only limited business upside. Quite a few were frank enough to admit that chargeback and self-service isn’t something that they see an immediate need for. 

This is in quite contrast to the picture being painted by all those surveys out there that show a large number of enterprises having already implemented an enterprise private cloud.  On the face of it, this seems quite contrary to the observations outlined above. So what exactly is the reality?

Well, the reality is that there is undoubtedly a huge amount of interest among enterprises about transforming their legacy IT environment - which is often seen as too rigid, too fragmented, and ultimately too expensive - to something more agile, transparent and business-focused. At the same time however, there is a great deal of confusion among CIOs and architects about how to get there. This isn't very surprising given all the buzz and hype surrounding cloud computing. Every IT vendor claims to have the most unique solution and there isn't a single IT product out there that does not have a cloud angle to it. Add to this the chatter on the blogosphere, it will get even a sane mind spinning.  Consequently, most  enterprises are still struggling to fully understand the concept and value of enterprise private cloud.  Even among those who have chosen to move forward relatively early, quite a few have made their decisions more based on vendor influence/preferences rather than what their businesses actually need.  Clearly, there is a disconnect between the promise of the enterprise private cloud and the current adoption trends. 

So what is the way forward?  I certainly do not claim to have all the answers. But here is a perspective that many cloud practitioners have found useful and thus worth sharing.

To take a step back, the fundamental premise of the enterprise private cloud is IT transformation. It is the quest to create a more agile, transparent and efficient IT infrastructure that is driven more by business needs rather than constrained by operational and procedural inefficiencies. It is the new way of delivering and consuming IT services - where the IT organizations operate more like enablers of  strategic services rather than just being the gatekeepers of IT resources. In an enterprise private cloud environment, IT organizations are expected to empower the end users via self-service access/control and provide the business stakeholders a transparent view of how the resources are being used, what’s the cost of delivering a given service, how well are the customers being served, etc.  But the most important thing to note here is the enterprise private cloud is not just an IT project, rather it is a business initiative to create an IT setup that is more aligned with the needs of today's dynamic and highly competitive business environment. Surprised? You shouldn’t be. Just remember how the business users have been at the forefront of public cloud adoption within enterprises and private cloud is no exception.  

Such a broad-based transformation makes cloud more than a technology initiative. It requires people (organizational) and process changes as well, and these changes are as critical as is the choice of right tools and technology. In my next blog,  I will share how essential it is for enterprise cloud technology to go hand-in hand with process re-engineering and organization changes to unlock true value of  enterprise cloud.

I am sharing a short video from my session "Managing your private Cloud" at Oracle OpenWorld 2012. More videos from this session will be posted at the recently introduced Zero to Cloud resource page.

Many other experts of Oracle enterprise private cloud solution will join me on this blog "Zero to Cloud"  and share best practices , deployment tips and information on how to plan, build, deploy, monitor, manage , meter and optimize the enterprise private cloud. We look forward to your feedback, suggestions and having an engaging conversion with you on this blog.

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"Zero to Cloud" Blog is dedicated to Enterprise Private Cloud Solution.
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