1 Overview of Lifecycle Management Solutions

This chapter provides an overview of the lifecycle management solutions offered by Enterprise Manager Grid Control. In particular, this chapter covers the following:

Lifecycle Management Challenges

In today's world, proliferation of low cost servers in our data centers and numerous software deployments on those servers have brought in a fresh set of lifecycle management challenges.

One of the well-acknowledged problems include the difficulty in managing consistency and compatibility across operating systems and software deployments, server drifts and security vulnerabilities that lead to lack of compliance. Besides that, other problems include the difficulty in deploying new software and maintaining them, difficulty in provisioning new servers with variety of configurations and maintaining them, and difficulty in adapting to changes in workload of the environment.

These lifecycle management challenges eventually result in system administrators and database administrators spending significant amount of their time in software and server provisioning and maintenance operations.

Enterprise Manager Grid Control's Lifecycle Management Solutions

Enterprise Manager Grid Control offers lifecycle management solutions in the form of Deployment Procedures that help you manage the entire lifecycle of software, applications, and servers. Using Deployment Procedures, you can automate not only the deployment of software, applications, and servers but also the maintenance of these deployments. This makes critical data center operations easy, efficient, and scalable resulting in lower operational risk and cost of ownership.

The provisioning and patching solutions are offered across the stack for:

  • Operating Systems, with Bare metal provisioning on Linux and operating system patching

  • Databases, with Real Application Clusters (RAC) and Oracle Grid Infrastructure provisioning, extension, and deletion and flexible patching for Oracle database and Oracle Real Application Clusters

  • Middleware, with application server J2EE, BPEL, and SOA provisioning and patching

The following illustrates how Enterprise Manager Grid Control manages the software lifecycle using its Deployment Procedures:

Figure 1-1 Software Lifecycle Management Overview

Software Lifecycle Management Overview

You can see in the illustration that Enterprise Manager Grid Control orchestrates the initial reference sandbox deployment and then the mass unattended deployment of gold images created from these reference deployments.

Besides deployment of software, Enterprise Manager Grid Control also automates the ongoing patch lifecycle management of these deployments - proactively informs you about the critical patches and vulnerabilities in the deployments, automatically downloads the required patches, applies them to the deployments, and also verifies whether the patches were applied successfully.

Benefits of Using Provisioning and Patching Features

The following are the advantages of using the provisioning and patching features offered by Enterprise Manager Grid Control:

  • The provisioning and patching features provide a repeatable, reliable, and automated solution for performing mass, unattended, and schedulable deployment of

    • Software and servers based on Gold Images created using reference deployment or installation media

    • Software and operating system updates

    • Complex and multi-tier software like Oracle Real Application Clusters (RAC) and Application Server Clusters

  • Orchestrates not only provisioning of software but completely automates configuration of software and ensures zero-time for patching of mission critical systems by orchestrating rolling patching for complex multi-tier installation like Real Application Clusters (RAC) databases and Application Server clusters.

  • Allows new resources to be provisioned at short notice based on compliant and tested gold images.

  • Enterprise Manager Grid Control's Critical Patch Facility proactively and regularly queries Oracle Metalink for critical patches that have been released and notifies the administrators of only those patches applicable to them. It can also invoke the Patch application in context, and remedy the vulnerable installations. The Critical Patch Facility also supports an offline mode to serve the case of data centers that are not connected to the Internet.

  • Completely automates the patching operations across the stack. For example, for database patching, it takes care of shutting down and starting up database instances as required by the patch.

  • Allows multiple operations to be accommodated in a single change window.

  • Enterprise Manager Grid Control also provides command-line interface support to all out-of-box provisioning and patching deployment procedures. These features can hence be invoked by custom scripts.

  • Software provisioning and patching features support SUDO and PAM authentication.

  • Single interface for multiple players. For example, component designers responsible for creating gold images based on corporate standards and the operators all use the same Enterprise Manager Grid Control console.

  • Automation of repeatable installation and patching operations across the stack leads to substantial cost savings in terms of costs and man-hours.

Success Stories

NetApp Uses Automated Provisioning to Reduce Manual Effort Time from a Few Weeks to a Few Clicks

"With Oracle Enterprise Manager, we are now able to meet corporate standards 100% of the time. And, our pre-patched gold images, enabled by Oracle Enterprise Manager, save time and resources."

– Alok Arora, Director, Enterprise Integration and Architecture, NetApp, Inc.

NetApp, formerly Network Appliance, creates innovative storage and data management solutions that help its customers accelerate business breakthroughs and achieve outstanding cost efficiency. NetApp's dedication to principles of simplicity, innovation, and customer success has made it one of the fastest-growing storage and data management providers today.

The following were their lifecycle management challenges:

  • Reduce two-week time frame needed for IT group to create a complex multitier service-oriented architecture (SOA) deployment with components spanning various hosts.

  • Provision new deployments for a growing number of internal customers quickly, efficiently, and in a manner that complies with corporate standards.

  • Improve day-to-day work life for IT staff by reducing amount of time needed to roll out patches developed during each patching cycle, a process that took between 8 and 10 weeks.

The following were the lifecycle management solutions offered by Oracle:

  • Utilized the Provisioning and Patch Automation Pack for Oracle Middleware, and helped NetApp to expedite provisioning of new SOA deployments with gold images that enable administrators to provision deployments via a single management console.

  • Created a standard process to provision and patch Fusion Middleware in a completely automated, and reliable manner — reducing manual effort from a few weeks to a few clicks.

  • Created test benches based on production installations — allowing NetApp to apply patches on these test systems and then deploy them to multiple production systems.

  • Enabled NetApp to deploy standard Fusion Middleware component images based on features licensed, and to have a standard process that leads to best-practice deployments with no configuration drifts from corporate standards.

  • Enabled the IT staff to direct its attention to more strategic initiatives.

  • Provided IT staff with processes and procedures that enable them to meet unpredictable demands from customers.

More Success Stories

To view more success stories and understand how Enterprise Manager Grid Control's lifecycle management solutions help organizations control IT management costs while improving the quality of their services, access the following URL: