As Published In

Oracle Magazine
July/August 2010

Business-Driven IT Management
By Carol Hildebrand

Oracle Enterprise Manager 11g connects business, technology, and IT for an integrated approach to IT management.

At a launch event at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City in April, Oracle unveiled Oracle Enterprise Manager 11g, its next-generation integrated management solution based on open standards and engineered to work throughout the technology stack.

The latest release of Oracle Enterprise Manager is an important step forward in Oracle’s overall strategy, said Oracle President Charles Phillips at the event. “In many ways, it is a summary of our strategy and why we did the Sun acquisition,” he said. “It’s about finally getting control of this complex thing called IT and trying to manage the entire stack differently than we have in the past.”

Oracle Enterprise Manager 11g delivers the industry’s most comprehensive business-driven IT management capabilities. As companies wrestle with the ongoing question of how to use and manage technology effectively to meet their business goals, Oracle Enterprise Manager 11g helps maximize business agility and productivity through an integrated approach to IT management, Phillips said.

“We’ve built a complete stack and built the management into that stack upfront,” he said. “With management tools that allow companies to manage the entire stack together, we can add value not only through management but also performance and security.”

With its integrated approach, Oracle Enterprise Manager 11g allows IT staff to respond to real business needs rather than arbitrary technology service levels. It delivers an integrated set of management capabilities through three critical components: business-driven application management, integrated application-to-disk management, and integrated systems management and support.

Business-Driven Application Management

As the adoption of grid computing, cloud, SOA, and composite applications distributes applications and business processes across multiple systems, system-specific IT metrics such as CPU utilization no longer reliably measure overall application health. What’s more, such metrics don’t necessarily correlate to the concerns of business managers, who are more focused on key performance indicators such as order history and processing. “It’s a classic business-IT disconnect,” said Richard Sarwal, senior vice president at Oracle, at the launch event. “If IT tells a business owner that server response time is 90 percent, that’s not what they want to know. They want to know the status of order processing for their most important customer. Oracle wants to provide the tools to solve that disconnect and have business and IT speaking the same language.”

By providing deep visibility into business transactions, Oracle Enterprise Manager 11g enables IT departments to manage applications from a business perspective, allowing them to better prioritize IT activities and enhance end-user experience. For example, Oracle Real User Experience Insight, the user experience management feature in Oracle Enterprise Manager 11g, is designed to identify and resolve user experience issues before they affect the business. Application support staff can pinpoint exactly which users are having problems by identifying technical exceptions, such as which users experience technical performance errors, as well as business exceptions such as “product out of stock” messages.

As applications have increasingly become a conduit for business transactions, managing them from a business perspective is critical, Sarwal said. For example, an order placed on a Website could result in the invocation of the credit check service, inventory check service, workflow approval service, and, finally, a shipping service. Any of these could face issues that slow performance, and companies need an end-to-end view of transactions based on business content in order to adjust performance to best meet business goals. To fulfill this need, Oracle Enterprise Manager’s business transaction management capabilities provide sophisticated instrumentation for real-time detection, alerting, and remediation of various types of unexpected business or technical conditions. Oracle Enterprise Manager 11g delivers end-to-end visibility of in-flight transactions across multiple tiers and applications, and IT staff can search transactions based on message content and context, allowing them to manage application performance in accordance with business needs. “For example, you can set service levels based on customer type in addition to transaction latency, allowing you to make sure that your platinum customers are getting the best service levels,” said Sarwal.

Oracle Enterprise Manager 11g also provides complete lifecycle management capabilities for business services. This allows IT administrators to better understand application topology and configuration, monitor the health of business services, and take corrective measures in response to a problem—including adding capacity on demand. “By bringing together real user monitoring, business transaction management, and business services management, Oracle Enterprise Manager 11g provides a unique and compelling business-driven application management capability,” Sarwal said.

Integrated Application-to-Disk Management

Managing a complex technology stack, including application software, middleware, SOA, operating systems, storage, and hardware, can present a troublesome challenge, especially when different vendors use different tools to manage each area of the stack. Oracle’s goal, said Sarwal, is to centralize management by presenting a unified technology stack. “We’ve always taken a slightly different tack to management, because we own all the components of the stack,” he said.

Because Oracle develops a complete technology stack, the system management development team can work directly with system and application developers to build manageability into the core infrastructure and applications. Instead of “bolted-on” management tools, Oracle Enterprise Manager 11g provides an integrated set of tools that comprehensively manage each tier of the stack, creating an IT infrastructure that is increasingly self-managing and allows complex multitier diagnostic issues to be addressed, Sarwal said.

That integrated stack is now even deeper, said Sarwal. “Our acquisition of Sun has helped us deepen the stack, and we now support [Oracle] Solaris and Sun-specific virtual capabilities,” he said. “You can look for more integration in the future between [Oracle] Ops Center and Oracle Enterprise Manager.”

Next Steps

LEARN more about Oracle Enterprise Manager 11g

DOWNLOAD Oracle Enterprise Manager 11g

Oracle Enterprise Manager 11g provides a single solution for all aspects of middleware and database administration, such as performance management, change and configuration management, testing, provisioning, and patching. In addition, it includes full management capabilities for new Oracle Database 11g Release 2 and Oracle Fusion Middleware 11g features.

It also spans the lifecycle of systems management activities, from provisioning test environments through functional and load testing and subsequent deployment into production, including maintenance and upgrades. The management functions enabled by Oracle Enterprise Manager include application performance management, configuration management, lifecycle management, and application quality management.

Integrated Systems Management and Support

IT operations are split into two worlds: systems management and vendor support services, said Sarwal. IT staff with questions about their management tools commonly interact with vendor support through portals that allow them to download patches and updates and log service requests. “It’s our view that these operations really don’t need to be as separated,” he said. “What we are working on is taking capabilities within our support systems and bringing them into Oracle Enterprise Manager itself.”

Oracle Enterprise Manager 11g has full integration with My Oracle Support, enhancing Oracle Enterprise Manager’s ability to serve as a single interface for managing and supporting the enterprise. It provides seamless access to My Oracle Support pages for managing service requests, deploying patches, and accessing knowledgebase material. Moreover, Oracle Enterprise Manager can automatically upload configuration information to My Oracle Support, providing Oracle Support staff with instant access to the comprehensive configuration data they need.

By unifying the information in Oracle Enterprise Manager and My Oracle Support, Oracle is able to take advantage of a global configuration database containing the configuration information of all customers who opt in. Combining this configuration data with service request data allows Oracle to proactively detect problems in customer environments based on the experiences of other customers running similar configurations, including specific recommendations for patches that should be applied.

Oracle Enterprise Manager 11g helps organizations reduce the cost and lower the complexity of managing applications, while improving IT efficiencies. “We have a business-driven focus on IT management,” said Sarwal, “and we have the comprehensive tools to help companies maximize their business investments.”

Carol Hildebrand is a freelance writer based in Massachusetts.

Send us your comments