The Oracle Grid offers a proven solution that allows businesses to heighten application performance and deliver unparalleled IT infrastructure reliability. Businesses of all sizes attain measurable IT cost savings by extending the availability of computing resources, cultivating more productive and effective administrators, and achieving higher quality of service—all direct benefits of the Oracle Grid. A critical ingredient to achieving the full benefits of the Oracle Grid is employing the right solution for managing the grid systems and, most importantly, the applications that run on those systems.
Oracle Enterprise Manager 10g is Oracle's single, integrated solution for managing all aspects of the Oracle Grid and the applications running on it. Grid Control couples a potent, top-down monitoring approach to delivering the highest quality of service for applications with a cost-effective automated configuration management, provisioning, and administration solution. This powerful combination provides unequaled management for any size Oracle data center.
This chapter provides an overview of Enterprise Manager 10g Release 2 (10.2), its rich functionality, and the unique benefits it offers to Oracle customers.
Until recently, business success measurements and IT infrastructure performance were rarely mentioned in the same conversation. Corporations treated the two distinctly—in part because of traditional organization structures—but mostly because existing management tools offered point solutions that only addressed a portion of the larger need. IT management priorities focused primarily on maintaining individual IT systems performance, largely disconnected from real business objectives and needs.
Now companies realize that in order to manage bottom line profits and differentiate the quality of service they offer, they must gain insight into how businesses are affected by IT performance. This requirement has mandated innovation in management solutions, where tools must go beyond discrete systems management to focus on delivering application availability and performance levels that align with business priorities. Few management solutions—because of their limited view of the application and its life cycle—are up to the task.
Oracle Enterprise Manager 10g, a critical element of the Oracle Grid platform, manages service level performance from a business perspective. By leveraging its "best-of-breed" system monitoring solution—including out-of-box support for databases, application servers, hosts, firewalls, load balancers, and storage—it provides a top-down approach to managing applications. This solution is unique because of its deep system-specific coverage and the range of applications supported. No other solution offers the same level of depth, integration, and precision for Oracle customers.New functionality in Grid Control Release 2 extends the Release 1 application service level management solution with rich graphical modeling and monitoring, crisp and workflow-driven dashboards, and root-cause diagnostics, which take administrators from an end-user application availability issue through the entire application stack to pinpoint the offending IT infrastructure component. Additionally, complementary functionality allows administrators to quickly identify and triage impacted applications when low-level system issues surface.Using the new features available in Grid Control Release 2, administrators can model and relate system components within the IT infrastructure that provide the backbone for service offerings. Leveraging these system components, they can define applications, or services, that depend upon those systems, and select business transactions that are measured to determine availability and performance of those services. Grid Control supports over 20 different transaction protocols, including custom scripts, dramatically extending the breadth of coverage to meet the application monitoring needs of nearly every environment.Using Grid Control's graphical monitoring dashboards, administrators, managers, and business owners gain real-time understanding of the status of the business's most important services in a single view. Monitoring dashboards provide top-level views of individual or groups of services, as well as system-level views describing the relationships and status of IT system components. Brought together with newly introduced root-cause availability management capabilities, dashboards dramatically reduce the time it takes to resolve issues that directly impact performance. Service and system "dashboards" are available out-of-box for Oracle packaged applications.
The number of systems and diversity of services in the Grid can be small or quite large. Historically, the cost of managing large sets of systems has increased linearly, or more, with each new system added to the enterprise. It's simply not possible to maintain management costs in the Grid environment with traditional management solutions that do not scale. The fundamental value proposition of Grid Control is to maintain management costs at a flat or near flat rate as the number of managed systems increases. There are a number of things that make this possible.
For years, IT departments have relied upon the knowledge of key individuals who manually installed, configured, and maintained the systems running throughout an enterprise. Keeping systems up and running was often a finely-tuned recipe book of details written in a language only those closely involved could understand. Yet, as distributed systems evolved and service architectures became more complex and heterogeneous, manual solutions were no longer viable from a cost-effective standpoint—and more pressingly, from a quality of service standpoint. Administrators are now responsible for far more systems, and the relationships between those systems are much too complicated to track manually. Firewalls, switches, load-balancers, application servers, databases, and clusters are all distributed and connected through complex rules that demand reliable, automated configuration management.
Grid Control's configuration management solution is designed to eliminate the costs and errors that plague traditional manual configuration management solutions. Grid Control centrally tracks hardware, software installation (including patch levels), and software configuration data for every service and system that it manages. This detailed information is regularly and automatically collected and updated as changes occur. Central storage of enterprise configuration information lays the foundation for defining, deploying, auditing, enforcing, and maintaining the systems throughout the Grid.
IT professionals will agree—the fewer variations in the types of systems deployed and the configurations used to deploy them, the easier systems are to manage and the more reliable they will be. That said, it is impossible to expect, even with the most mature business practices, that all systems can follow the same standards of deployment. Using a robust configuration management solution, administrators can rely upon automated tools to ensure that all systems deployed follow specified practices and rules. This way, only pre-tested, pre-certified configurations can enter the production "food chain" of a busy data center.
Grid Control allows administrators to define rules (or policies)—most of which are available out-of-box—that are responsible for governing the configuration of all the systems and software running across the enterprise. And because the natural configuration life cycle of any system means it will be changed—through installation of patches, adding files and directories, changing ports, editing its dependencies, and so on—once a system is rolled out, Grid Control continually audits it against its predefined policies. All changes are tracked so that administrators know when they are happening, who is making them, what changes are acceptable, and what changes must be corrected. This level of security and compliance through proactive auditing and enforcement is necessary to keep harmony in the continual flux that defines most data centers. It is also critical to maintaining order and meeting compliance standards as new systems are brought on line, existing systems are upgraded, or patches are applied.
Systems administrators can spend up to 25% of their time installing and configuring new software. Using Grid Control's automated provisioning tools, businesses can reduce the time spent deploying new software by up to 90%. Grid Control allows administrators to store base images in a central library—pre-configured and certified—from which new deployments can be based. Newly available with Release 2, administrators are able to deploy fully configured Linux systems from bare metal. These systems can be deployed with any desired software configuration, certified to the appropriate version and patch level—all with a few simple clicks. This capability is extraordinarily powerful for Oracle Real Application Clusters (RAC) and application cluster environments where adding capacity can be done quickly and without errors. Specific capabilities designed for Oracle RAC and cluster systems, minimizing the number of steps and complexities involved, are available with Release 2.
Historically, managing the patches for any IT environment has been extremely tedious and difficult to control. In a Grid environment, where the number of systems and changes to those systems is widespread, manual patch management can become a full-time, often unproductive, job.
Using a direct link to Oracle, Grid Control proactively and regularly queries My Oracle Support for critical patches that have been released and notifies administrators through advisories of patches that should be applied. By correlating the available patches with the specific systems and software running on a particular site, administrators are notified of only applicable patches. When querying My Oracle Support directly, patches can be found either in the context of a specific target or, if desired, the administrator can query for a specific patch. Once the necessary patch is located, Grid Control can download and deploy it. Optionally, Grid Control can execute an end-user provided script to install the patch to all systems that require it. Each of these steps allows for quicker application of patches across the customer's enterprise. Grid Control extends this valuable patch management functionality to include support for OS patches—a critical component of systems maintenance and the biggest impediment preventing the installation of important software for system repair.
Using Grid Control to find, download, and deploy patches increases an administrator's efficiency by automating mundane, repetitive, day-to-day maintenance tasks as much as possible, allowing them more time for proactive systems work.
While Enterprise Manager 10g provides the richest, most comprehensive management for Oracle products, it is also clear that there is no such thing as an Oracle-only environment. Customers have a wide variety of platforms, hardware, network, storage, and software components delivering critical functionality to the Oracle Grid, and they look for a single tool to monitor and manage this environment. With the latest release of Grid Control, there are two complementary initiatives that target extending the solution so customers can better leverage existing investments:
Extending Grid Control's scope through native management extensions, and partner and custom plug-ins.
Developing valuable integration solutions with existing management solutions to allow customers to leverage these investments without losing the unique value they gain from Grid Control.
With Release 2, Grid Control dramatically broadens the reach of its management solution. New extensions and plug-ins enable customers to leverage their investment in Grid Control to manage all the pieces of the application solution in a vendor-neutral way—components such as firewalls, server load balancers, and non-Oracle databases and application servers. For instance, with Release 2, customers running Oracle WebLogic or IBM WebSphere will be able to seamlessly monitor and manage these system components with the similar, rich management functionality available for Oracle products.
Grid Control also includes extensions of the core Grid Control product for F5 server load balancers and NetApp Filers. Over the coming months, many more extensions will be generally released and available as easy-to-implement plug-ins to Release 2. These plug-ins will be both Oracle-developed (e.g., Checkpoint firewall, SQL Server, and others) and developed in partnership by third-party vendors, with support and validation by Oracle to provide a single console for primary monitoring and management of the Oracle Grid. In addition to the management plug-ins available out-of-box, Grid Control offers an open Command Line Interface and illustrative examples for easily adding new targets and customizing management solutions for customer-specific environments. This extended breadth of coverage gives customers the ability to use Grid Control for central management of their complete environment.
In addition to extending the direct reach of Grid Control, bi-directional integration support for other leading management solutions is a key priority. Customers who have invested in non-Oracle management solutions derive increased value from Oracle's integration efforts. Direct integration between Grid Control Release 2 and products by HP, Micromuse, and EMC SMARTS are currently supported. As an example, the integration between HP OpenView Operations and Grid Control provides both depth and breadth of management capabilities based on a common view of management data. This new level of integration allows customers to seamlessly leverage Oracle's strength in database, application server, and applications management and HP OpenView's strength in host and network management.
Other complementary partnerships designed to deliver unique capabilities to Oracle customers (including storage management and the ability to dynamically flex data center capacity) are underway and will be announced shortly.
Grid computing is poised to revolutionize the economics of delivering applications and services across the enterprise. Enterprise Manager 10g allows customers to deliver heightened application performance and realize dramatic savings in IT administration and maintenance costs. Enterprise Manager's robust service level management functionality brings together business priorities with IT application performance requirements in ways it never has before. Rich configuration management and provisioning functionality eliminate the error-prone, manual tactics that plague most data centers and drive up the overall cost of management. In a time when administration resources are at a premium, and businesses are forced to tightly control IT spending budgets, Enterprise Manager 10g is a must-have tool for small and large enterprises that want to make the Grid a reality for their IT department.