Focusing IT on BusinessBy David Baum
Oracle Enterprise Manager 11g delivers business-driven IT management.
The steady adoption of grid, cloud, and other virtualized computing models brings many benefits to today’s enterprise—flexibility and agility to respond to changing market conditions, for instance—but also burdens IT with new types of management challenges. With information systems spanning disparate servers, storage devices, networks, and datacenters, identifying and resolving issues involving business or service quality is not always a clear-cut task.
“Traditionally, IT has focused on managing individual infrastructure elements and components such as servers, storage devices, operating systems, application servers, and databases, but increasingly the focus is on the overall end-to-end business service delivered by IT,” says Tim Grieser, program vice president of enterprise system management software at IDC. “Systems management must now extend well beyond maintaining the health of individual components to actually delivering and maintaining good service quality for the end user.”
Managing Large-Scale SOA EnvironmentsHealthways, a leading global provider of specialized, comprehensive healthcare and disease management solutions, develops evidence-based programs designed to promote wellness among healthy individuals, slow the progression of disease associated with family or lifestyle risk factors, and promote the best possible health for those already affected by disease.
IT professionals at Healthways use Oracle Enterprise Manager 11g to manage a diverse service-oriented architecture (SOA) environment that includes Oracle Database 11g with Oracle Real Application Clusters (Oracle RAC), Oracle E-Business Suite, Windows Communication Foundation services with Microsoft .NET applications, IBM WebSphere Message Broker queues, IBM WebSphere services, and Java applications. Between 50 and 100 system administrators, developers, and operations personnel regularly access the Oracle Enterprise Manager 11g console to manage various aspects of the system.
“Oracle Enterprise Manager 11g instantly alerts us if performance starts to degrade anywhere within this architecture,” says Kevin Forbes, chief enterprise architect at Healthways. “It also captures exception messages in a repository, which helps us diagnose issues faster.”
For example, by revealing how various service invocations are chained together, Oracle Enterprise Manager 11g determines how long it takes Healthways’ IBM WebSphere broker service to perform its work, even when administrators can’t monitor these services at the container or component level. Oracle Enterprise Manager 11g also helps with SOA governance by auditing SOA usage to ensure compliance with Healthways’ security policies in Oracle Access Manager.
“We’re doing SOA governance as well as monitoring the runtime aspects of distributed business transactions,” Forbes explains. “Using Oracle Access Manager and Oracle Identity Management, we know who has access to what systems and who called those services at runtime, even when external Web services are involved. If a business user initiates a change, such as removing a role from the security policy, Oracle Enterprise Manager 11g gives us the visibility into the entire process so we are sure we don’t break anything.”
The SOA management solution also provides visibility into the functional logic and context of Healthways’ Java applications, which are deployed within IBM WebSphere. It interfaces with Oracle Enterprise Manager 11g to analyze the root cause of problems and displays performance metrics for both Oracle and non-Oracle software through a single interface. This convergence of information lets system administrators trace transactions from the URL down to the actual piece of problematic Java code, improving application visibility by correlating application services with underlying code components.
“Our Oracle management software gives us a more complete picture of the SOA environment at runtime,” Forbes sums up. “It reveals how any discrete change to a complex SOA process impacts any other process running through the system.”
Enabling More-Proactive Customer SupportManaging IT from a business perspective helps close the historical gap between business and IT, and an integrated application-to-disk management strategy further supports this IT management approach. Another key to comprehensive, business-driven IT management, however, involves keeping technology and information about technology up to date.
Ingersoll Rand is a US$13 billion diversified industrial company and global leader in enhancing and sustaining safety, comfort, and efficiency. The company is in the midst of a major project to consolidate its IT assets, adopt shared services, and standardize the information systems in its global datacenters: two in the United States and two in Europe. A big part of this effort involves automating many of its management practices.
“Our goal is to better understand our assets, especially the Oracle products and services and the appliances they run on, in order to maximize utilization across datacenters,” explains Mervyn Lally, global director of business development at Ingersoll Rand. Lally and his team support more than 40 Oracle E-Business Suite instances and more than 800 Oracle databases. To manage these and other Oracle products, the company has standardized on Oracle Enterprise Manager and has been beta-testing Oracle Enterprise Manager 11g, focusing on integrated systems management and support functions.
Lally thinks the integration of My Oracle Support and Oracle Enterprise Manager 11g will simplify activities for system administrators and DBAs by enabling them to manage systems and support interactions from one console. With Oracle Enterprise Manager 11g, Ingersoll Rand prepopulates service requests with configuration information from Oracle Enterprise Manager and tracks those requests by configuration or target type, speeding up the resolution process.
“Oracle Support makes a wealth of information available, but previously it was not directly available to Oracle Enterprise Manager,” he says. “The new integration capabilities of Oracle Enterprise Manager 11g permit everyone to look at the same place to see the state of the IT infrastructure and the health of our systems.”
Ingersoll Rand also benefits from Oracle Enterprise Manager’s new capabilities for patching and updating software. In addition to improving efficiency, Lally says these capabilities are key to upholding the company’s security requirements.
“Previously, we would only patch an environment during scheduled downtimes or at the start of a new project,” he explains. “This would involve a lot of manual analysis, investigation of potential conflicts, and requests for merged patches, if needed. Now we have an at-a-glance, up-to-date view across our systems of all patch levels and recommended patches.”
David Baum (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a freelance business writer based in Santa Barbara, California.