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Will Management Tool Make IT Want More Oracle?

Enterprise Manager 12c, announced at OpenWorld, lets IT use one console to manage Oracle products running in data center or cloud.

Oracle is increasingly relying on managing its products through a single overseer product, Oracle Enterprise Manager. It's become a key part of getting its customers to buy different applications and middleware from the database vendor.

Oracle Enterprise Manager12c was announced Monday as Oracle OpenWorld 2011 got underway in San Francisco. It is now suitable for managing Oracle products running in traditional data centers, in the virtualized portion of the data center, or in the cloud. The "c" in Enterprise Manager 12c stands for "cloud," explained Richard Sarwal, senior VP of product development, just as the "i" in Oracle 11i stood for Internet and the "g" in Oracle 10g stood for grid. Oracle is trying to get back out front, at least in naming conventions.

Enterprise Manager now concentrates its feedback information in a single, centralized console, Enterprise Manager Cloud Control, where IT administrators supervising clustered x86 or Sparc servers can see key operational information on the pooled resource.

Ten-year-old Enterprise Manager is one of the lesser known products in the Oracle portfolio, but it is coming to play an increasingly important role. It started out as an aid in managing the database for the database administrator. As Oracle became an application provider, it began to include more applications in its view. All of its major branches--JD Edwards, PeopleSoft, Siebel, E-Business Suite--are now discovered and monitored by Enterprise Manager. Its embrace was previously extended to WebLogic and Fusion middleware as well. Its job is to detect and help manage these products, whether they're running in a physical or virtual environment.

[Want to know what IT managers are looking for at Oracle OpenWorld? See What Enterprise IT Wants.]

In its announcement Monday, Oracle said Enterprise Manager was moving beyond its previous role of identifying, monitoring, and alerting IT managers to potential trouble in Oracle products. It's taking a more active role in configuration management and user self-provisioning. It can detect which operating systems have been given a needed patch and advise IT managers if a lagging patch process is endangering their compliance rating.

Oracle Communications Billing and Revenue Management can be used to implement a metering and chargeback system so business users pay for what they use. The cloud needs not only a "build it and they will come" attitude, but one of "charge them and they will go away" to guard against capricious virtual machine commissioning and sprawl, Sarwal told an auditorium full of listeners at the end of OpenWorld's opening day.

In an interview, Sarwal said Enterprise Manager 12c collects basic operational statistics on CPUs, memory, network switches, and disks. It can tell the IT manager how much of each resource as a whole is being utilized. It can check utilization rates against IT-set policies that dictate, for example, that additional servers be commissioned if CPU usage starts to exceed 90%. "It sees the hardware under each software component. It can tell you the temperature of each device," if that's information you want to know, he added.

The different management realms, such as database versus applications or middleware, come as plug-ins for a framework. Various plug-ins can be activated, based on what a customer needs, instead of all forms of management stuffed into a single product.

In addition, its data collection mechanisms can be used to build business performance dashboards that reflect a set of software infrastructure activities that support a particular business process, and update a dashboard to indicate whether the key performance indicators for the process are being met, he said.

In version 12c, Enterprise Manager can also provide a fuller view of the operation of Oracle's Exadata database machine and Exalogic application appliance, Sarwal said. It sees generic information on databases and applications running on plain vanilla x86 servers. But it provides a lot more operational feedback from the Exadata and Exalogic machines."Enterprise Manager 12c has been instrumented for Exadata and Exalogic," so the database administrator or application server administrator can see what the level of performance is, what resources are being consumed and where his next bottleneck might develop, he said.

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