Overview of Oracle Enterprise Manager Management Packs

By Porus Homi Havewala
Published December 2010

How does Oracle Enterprise Manager Grid Control do so much across so many different systems? The answer is through the use of licensable Management Packs, Monitoring Plug-ins, and Connectors. This article provides an overview of how all the pieces fit together.

Everyone has heard of Oracle Enterprise Manager Grid Control, the flagship enterprise management solution from Oracle that allows management and automation across an entire grid consisting of both Oracle and non-Oracle technologies, including databases, application servers, host servers, NAS or SAN storage systems, load balancers, network devices, and also application software such as Oracle E-Business Suite, Oracle Siebel Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Oracle PeopleSoft Enterprise, and Oracle JD Edwards EnterpriseOne.

To handle such diverse technologies, there is a growing list of Oracle Enterprise Manager Plug-Ins by Oracle or by third-party vendors. Release 5 of Oracle Enterprise Manager 10g Grid Control supported over 40 non-Oracle technologies, and there are more than twenty-two thousand customers who use Oracle Enterprise Manager in the world today. With the recent release of Oracle Enterprise Manager 11g Grid Control in April 2010, the capabilities have been expanded further to monitor more types of storage and hardware, and provide more management capabilities.

How does Oracle Enterprise Manager Grid Control do so much across so many different systems? The answer is through the use of licensable Management Packs, Monitoring Plug-ins, and Connectors. Since there is no document currently that provides an overview of all the pieces that fit together, this article attempts to do that.

The Management Packs may specifically relate to the database, such as the Configuration Management Pack for Oracle Database, or they may relate to the middleware, such as the Diagnostics Pack for Oracle Middleware. These packs are normally licensed on the basis of the number of CPUs or the number of named users on the target server and not on the central Grid Control server. Note that the Enterprise Edition of Oracle Database is required at the target database level to enable these packs. If you have the Standard Edition, the packs cannot be licensed.

For the installation of the centralized components of Oracle Enterprise Manager Grid Control, namely the Oracle Management Service and Repository, the following conditions apply. If you use a separate server on which there is no previous Oracle installation, you do not need to license that server for the Enterprise Edition of Oracle Database if you do not use the Oracle Database software or the repository database on that server for any purpose other than the Grid Control repository. You must use the Oracle Database Enterprise Edition on that server exclusively for the Oracle Enterprise Manager repository. The licensing you pay for is only for the use of Management Packs, Monitoring Plug-ins, and Connectors on the target servers on which the Oracle Enterprise Manager Agent has been installed.

A centralized Oracle Enterprise Manager Grid Control site in a large IT environment should be properly architected so as to perform varied management activities, including database administration tasks, such as setting up and scheduling Oracle Recovery Manager (RMAN) backups, setting up and monitoring DataGuard standby databases, and so on.

The new Oracle Enterprise Manager 11g Grid Control is based on Oracle WebLogic Server 11g Release 1 Enterprise Edition (10.3.2) (instead of Oracle Application server used by Oracle Enterprise Manager 10g Grid Control). Therefore, it can use all the performance and memory management benefits associated with Oracle WebLogic Server. You can also install Oracle Enterprise Manager Grid Control on an Oracle WebLogic Server Cluster, but you cannot take advantage of the cluster configurations.

We can now start discussing the Management Packs.

Oracle Diagnostics Pack and Oracle Tuning Pack

These packs are the most popular packs since they deal with database performance and tuning, which almost every database requires eventually. Performance diagnostics and tuning capabilities are actually an integral part of the core database engine from Oracle Database 10g to Oracle Database 11g and beyond. These capabilities include various powerful, in-built tools, such as the Automatic Workload Repository (AWR), Active Session History (ASH), the Automatic Database Diagnostic Monitor (ADDM), the SQL Tuning Advisor, the SQL Access Advisor, and so on.

These capabilities need to be purchased via the Diagnostics Pack and Tuning Packs license even if you use only the command line interface instead of the Oracle Enterprise Manager Grid Control or Database Control browser interface. For example, you could access and create AWR or ADDM reports from the operating system prompt, you could run the SQL Access Advisor or the SQL Tuning Advisor from the SQL*Plus prompt, or you could access the corresponding views from within SQL*Plus. However, when you do this for a production or test database, you must license the Diagnostics Pack and Tuning Pack for that database server or for the number of named users.

System monitoring of the instance and host operating system, as well as alerts and notifications, are offered by the Diagnostics Pack. There is a separate license for the Diagnostics Pack for Oracle Middleware if you want to manage and monitor Oracle WebLogic Server domains and Oracle Application Server farms, including Java Virtual Machine (JVM) monitoring and Java application diagnostics. Also, non-Oracle application servers can be handled by the Diagnostics Pack for Non-Oracle Middleware.

Interestingly, the Diagnostics Pack’s Automatic Database Diagnostic Monitor (ADDM) works across all Oracle Real Application Cluster (RAC) instances in Oracle Database 11g onwards, and cluster-wide performance recommendations are generated.

The Tuning Pack for databases is normally sold as a corollary to the Diagnostics Pack, because you need to diagnose problems first before you tune. This pack is very important for performance tuning purposes, since it offers a gold mine of tuning advisors and utilities: the SQL Tuning Advisor, SQL Tuning sets, SQL Access Advisor, Segment Advisor, Real-Time SQL Monitoring, and so on.

Among these, the SQL Tuning Advisor can even be set to automatically derive and apply the best SQL Profile to SQL statements. Introduced in Oracle Database Enterprise Edition 10g, the SQL Profile consists of collected and stored auxiliary information that aids the optimizer in finding the best execution path for a particular SQL statement. Using SQL Profiles, it is possible to improve the performance of SQL statements without changing the actual statements, thus enabling them to be used to great benefit for tuning packaged applications. Note, however, that as the data changes, the Profile may also need to be changed, but the automatic tuning is able to continually find and apply the best profiles.

The SQL Tuning Advisor can also pinpoint objects with missing or stale statistics, suggest new indexes, and also ask you to consider restructuring SQL statements that are poorly written, for example, a Cartesian join (joining two tables without a where clause).

Example of a Quick and Easy Diagnosis

The following sequence of steps demonstrate how easy it is for a DBA to pinpoint production issues, find the root cause, and quickly decide on a solution to the issue with the assistance of the Diagnostics Pack and Tuning Pack for Oracle Database.

The release used for illustration purposes is Oracle Enterprise Manager 10g Grid Control Release 5. In this release, as well as in the current release (Oracle Enterprise Manager 11g Grid Control Release 1, at the time of writing), the steps you follow are generally the same for this diagnosis.

In what could be a very real scenario, first-level support personnel report that application users are experiencing degraded response time. Second-level support personnel (the DBAs) have access to the Oracle Enterprise Manager 10g Grid Control Console, and they swing into action. The primary DBA responsible for the database drills down to the database target in Grid Control, and opens the Database Performance page (Figure 1). A huge increase in “application waits” can be seen immediately; this is the colored portion of the Average Active Sessions graph.

Figure 1: Database Performance Page

The DBA decides to investigate this further, and clicks the graph. This drills down to Figure 2, which shows the actual breakdown of the application waits, most of which are type “enq: TX – row lock contention.”

It is possible to change the period of time to be examined by simply dragging the shaded area of the graph with the mouse. Doing this displays the sessions and SQL statements active in that time period.

Figure 2: Application Waits

The DBA now examines the Top SQL list and clicks the top-most SQL ID.

The SQL statement corresponding to this SQL ID is displayed in Figure 3. The sessions that have issued this SQL statement are also displayed on the same page.

Figure 3: SQL Details

The issue has been identified as row lock contention, and the SQL statement causing this issue has also been found. So far, this information has come from the Database Performance page and the drill-downs. Next, we shall see what ADDM can find.

Under the Related Links section, click Advisor Central. The page shown in Figure 4 appears.

The various available Advisors can be seen. Under Advisor Tasks, a number of ADDM runs are visible. These runs are mostly automatic runs.

Figure 4: Advisor Central Page

You can drill down on the most recent ADDM run to display the ADDM findings (see Figure 5).

The ADDM Performance Analysis section shows the issues that ADDM discovered. The row lock waits issue can be seen in the list, as well as another issue about hard parses.

Figure 5: ADDM Performance Analysis

Click the row lock waits issue. The ADDM Performance Finding Details page is displayed (Figure 6).

This page shows the specific table object that is currently suffering row contention. The SQL statements that are blocked on the row locks are also displayed.

According to ADDM’s recommendation, the application logic must be checked.

Figure 6: ADDM Performance Finding Details Page

You can also drill down on the hard parsing issue from the ADDM Performance Findings Details page.

In this case, there are two possible recommendations. You can either set the parameter cursor_sharing to force, or you can replace literals in the application logic with bind variables (see Figure 7).

Figure 7: Recommendations for Resolving Hard Parsing Issue

The application changes can be slated for the future, but the row locks must be removed immediately in order to resolve the performance issue.

Select Blocking Sessions under the Additional Monitoring Links section on the Database Performance page (Figure 1). A list of current blocking sessions appears (Figure 8).

The culprit is seen to be Session ID 156 with username SYS, which is blocking 44 sessions.

Figure 8: Blocking Sessions

Session ID 156 can now be killed by selecting the session and clicking the Kill Session button. This marks the session to be killed. After a few seconds, you can click Refresh, which shows there are no longer any blocking/blocked sessions in the database.

Immediately after the blocking is removed, the performance improves, which can be seen by the sharp decline in application waits in the graphs in the Database Performance page (Figure 9).

A similar decline is shown in the load average on this page as well.

Figure 9: Decline in Application Waits

Click the Application link to drill down to the Application Waits page, and you can see that the “enq: TX – row lock contention” waits are no longer present for the current period, indicating that the performance issue is over (Figure 10).

And as we have demonstrated, the DBA has ably used Oracle Enterprise Manager Grid Control and its Diagnostics Pack and Tuning Pack to quickly diagnose and solve the performance issue.

Figure 10: Application Waits Page

SQL Monitoring in Real Time

The concept of real-time SQL monitoring was introduced in Oracle Database Enterprise Edition 11g. This feature allows tracking the execution of SQL statements that take 5 seconds or more, or those that use parallel execution.

In this way, it is possible to understand exactly what is being done by the SQL statement. In real-life situations when batch jobs seem to run for an abnormally long period and there is pressure from management is to kill such jobs and restart them, this feature is of great use for determining if the batch job is frozen or just running slowly at some particular step of the execution plan.

To use this feature in Oracle Enterprise Manager Grid Control 10g Release 5 onwards, go to the Additional Monitoring Links section on the Database Performance page and select SQL Monitoring. (Since this is an Oracle Database 11g Enterprise Edition feature, the link is displayed only when the target database is version 11g or later.)

This displays the Monitored SQL Executions page (Figure 11). SQL statements displayed with a tick mark have completed their execution, whereas currently executing SQL statements are displayed with a rotating sphere. It is possible to refresh this page manually or automatically at a specified time period in seconds.

Figure 11: Monitored SQL Executions Page

You can now select any of the SQL statements on this page and click the corresponding SQL ID. Then the Monitored SQL Execution Details page is displayed (Figure 12).

The execution plan steps are shown along with the timeline. A tick mark is also visible at the top of the page, indicating that the SQL statement has completed without any errors.

Figure 12: Monitored SQL Execution Details Page

A rotating sphere at the top of the page indicates that the SQL statement is still executing. In this case, the entire page is refreshed automatically, and the steps of the execution plan, as they run one after the other, can be identified easily (Figure 13).

Figure 13: Steps of the Execution Plan

The green arrows in this page’s Plan Statistics section (Figure 13) change their position on every refresh to indicate the currently executing steps, and some of the data columns in this section are also colored momentarily upon being refreshed with the latest data. This provides a very dynamic view of the progress of the execution plan.

In the Overview section, you can see that this SQL statement used a parallel degree of 3. This is verified by the presence of the PX (Parallel Query) Coordinator as well as the Parallel Slave processes (indicated by tiny humanoid icons) working in the execution plan.

A Parallel tab is also visible on the page. If you click this tab, you can see more details about the working of the PX Coordinator and the multiple parallel server processes (Figure 14).

Figure 14: Parallel Server Details

These details are enhancements for an Oracle Database Enterprise Edition 11g target when Oracle Enterprise Manager 10g Grid Control Release 5 (or higher) is used to manage the database.

In addition, Oracle Enterprise Manager 11g Grid Control Release 1 includes Oracle Exadata-aware SQL monitoring and I/O resource management for Oracle Exadata Version 2. Full support for Oracle Database 11g Release 2 is provided in this release, including compression, change detection, partitioning, diagnostics, and tuning.

Oracle Provisioning and Patch Automation Pack

Suppose you want to deploy your software, applications, and patches via Oracle Enterprise Manager. By using the Oracle Provisioning and Patch Automation Pack, the entire software stack can be provisioned including the operating system, middleware, and the Oracle Database Homes. Besides the software, Oracle Real Application Clusters (RAC) or non-RAC databases can also be cloned using this pack.

A software image library is used in the process of provisioning, as a means of storing standardized Gold Images that have been pre-installed and possibly patched up to an appropriate level

The process of provisioning the operating system on a totally blank box is known as bare-metal provisioning, which is accomplished using a standardized PXE (Preboot Execution Environment) booting process for the Linux OS.

Targets can also be patched at the database, Automatic Storage Management (ASM), or clusterware level using customizable deployment procedures. These automate the process of patching multiple targets with multiple patches in a highly efficient manner, including RAC rolling upgrades. There is a Critical Patch facility that connects to My Oracle Support (which could done by a direct connection or in an offline mode) and discovers the latest patches available for the Oracle Homes in your installation, such as the most recent Critical Patch Updates (CPU) released quarterly by Oracle.

Linux, Oracle Solaris, and Microsoft Windows operating systems can also be patched using this pack.

See my earlier article, Patch a Thousand Databases, Using Oracle Enterprise Manager Grid Control, which explains, in detail, the patching of databases using this pack. And find out how to provision literally hundreds or even thousands of systems using the mass provisioning techniques described in another article, Manage Mass Provisioning Using Oracle Enterprise Manager Grid Control.

Oracle Enterprise Manager 11g Grid Control Release 1 also delivers full configuration management and provisioning for large-scale Oracle SOA Suite and Oracle WebLogic Server environments. Oracle WebLogic Server is often used in an “application grid” environment, and it can also be used as the foundation for a private cloud. Oracle Enterprise Manager 11g can, therefore, greatly simplify the management and provisioning of such deployments, including the private cloud.

Oracle Configuration Management Pack

The databases, hosts, and applications in the IT space consist of tremendous amounts of configuration information, which needs to be captured and maintained, preferably in a central location. The Oracle Configuration Management Pack for Databases, along with the Oracle Configuration Management Pack for Applications, does precisely that, once the targets have been discovered by Oracle Enterprise Manager.

Any configuration change on the database, host, and operating system is captured by the Configuration Management Pack for Databases. You can save a gold configuration, which you can then compare to the current configuration or to a different server or database altogether, as well as track the historical changes over time. This feature would be of great assistance in troubleshooting, for example, to see if anything has changed at a particular time that could have affected the normal functioning of the system.

You can install the Configuration Change Console (included in the Configuration Management Pack) if you want real-time configuration change monitoring. Real-time configuration monitoring means continuous detection, validation, and alerting of any configuration change that could be authorized or unauthorized. Such capabilities are necessary to become fully compliant with regulatory standards, such as Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX), PCI, and ITIL. Continuous change detection and reporting is required in all these compliance frameworks.

The Application Configuration console is used for application-level configuration management. This functionality is included in the Configuration Management Pack for Applications (from Oracle’s acquisition of mValent) and provides the ability to collect, compare, and reconcile detailed and deep configuration information of complex systems, including Oracle software and other software (applications), but excluding the Oracle database itself (the configuration of the database is managed by the Configuration Management Pack for Databases). Using the Configuration Management Pack for Applications, it is possible to compare your configurations, examine the change history, track and be alerted to configuration changes in real time, and generate configuration compliance reports for the software components.

Oracle Change Management Pack

The Oracle Change Management Pack for Databases manages changes at the database schema level. You can capture the metadata definitions of any schema in a Dictionary Baseline. This baseline can then be propagated to other database targets. In this way, planned schema changes can be deployed in an automated manner from the development database to a test or production database, rather than relying on manually written scripts that are prone to human error. Baselines can be captured and versioned. You can copy database objects from one database to the other—either with no data, full data, or a subset of data.

You can easily track historical changes in a database, including new indexes, changes in PL/SQL code, or initialization parameter changes. The current metadata can be compared with the Dictionary Baseline or with other databases or baselines to see the differences. Oracle Database 11g allows schema changes to be tracked in real time if ENABLE_DDL_LOGGING is set to TRUE. If any incorrect changes are observed, the affected database objects can be recreated immediately from the Dictionary Baseline.

Impact analysis can also be performed by the Change Management Pack for Databases, and this is a powerful feature. Perform an application upgrade on a test system first, and ask the pack to identify all dictionary changes to find which portion of the upgrade has the greatest change impact, so that portion can be tested to the greatest extent.

There is also the Oracle Change Management Pack for Applications. This is primarily for the Oracle E-Business Suite, which deals with business intelligence, customer relationship management, asset lifecycle management, supply chain management, and other powerful business and accounting applications. At times, these modules need to be customized, and the Change Management Pack for Applications can be used to bundle these customizations into patches that can then be deployed in an automated manner.

Oracle Data Masking Pack

Too often, confidential data in databases is cloned to test or development databases, where security may not be very stringent. To protect such data from the eyes of the testers or developers, manual scripts are often written to mask the data.

However, these scripts are not centralized, tend to be tedious to write, and cannot be verified by the auditors. A better option, therefore, would be to use the Data Masking Pack in Oracle Enterprise Manager.

The centralized feature of Oracle Enterprise Manager Grid Control is well suited to the Data Masking Pack. The idea is to create and store all data masking formats centrally in a library, and then apply them to any database that is managed by Oracle Enterprise Manager Grid Control. Such data masking is necessary to comply with privacy and personal information regulation, such as SOX and the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCIDSS).

These centralized data masking formats can be created by the corporate security team (using out-of-the-box masking formats) and then handed over to the DBAs responsible for each project. The DBAs then create data masking definitions that map the specific columns and tables in their databases to suitable data masking formats from the ones supplied to them.

The data masking definitions can then be applied on confidential data in any of the managed databases, and the definition can also be shared between DBA teams who are looking after different target groups of databases. The confidential data is replaced irreversibly with scrubbed data, which nevertheless looks realistic. Data integrity rules, such as foreign keys, can be observed during the masking process and condition-based masking can be used, if desired.

If you clone databases from production to test or development using the Provisioning and Patch Automation Pack, then it is possible to execute the masking process on the cloned database as one of the last steps of the cloning process.

The Data Masking Pack, therefore, allows a central corporate-wide strategy for compliance with privacy regulation, since data privacy rules can be defined and applied in a consistent manner to all the sensitive data in the corporate database space.

For a practical walk-through of the Data Masking Pack, read my article, "Mask Your Secrets Using Oracle Enterprise Manager".

More Management Packs

  • Oracle Linux Management Pack: If you purchased Oracle Unbreakable Linux Basic or Premier support, then you can use the Oracle Linux Management Pack at no additional cost. This allows you to monitor Linux servers, administer the Linux operating system, patch the Linux operating system, and also perform bare-metal provisioning, which is the process of provisioning the operating system on a totally blank box. This process uses a standardized PXE (Preboot Execution Environment) booting process.
  • Oracle VM Management Pack: If Oracle Virtual Machine (VM) is the virtual engine used to virtualize your IT environment, then the Oracle VM Management Pack can be deployed to manage the virtualized environments. Using this pack, you can monitor the availability as well as the performance of the virtual machines, manage their configuration, set up a software library of Oracle VM templates, provision new virtual machines from this library, perform live migration of a guest machine to a different server so maintenance activities can be performed, and patch these machines.
  • Oracle Real User Experience Insight (RUEI): This pack enables the real user experience to be monitored with a non-intrusive monitoring approach. Built using state-of-the-art Network Protocol Analysis (NPA) technology, it can perform a total analysis of the network infrastructure and business application infrastructure in the corporate environment without requiring any modification, changes, or instrumentation of the application.

There are Oracle RUEI Accelerators for Oracle PeopleSoft Enterprise, Oracle E-Business Suite, Oracle Siebel CRM, and Oracle JD Edwards EnterpriseOne, which work specifically with the real user experience of these applications and provide monitoring “out of the box.”

  • Oracle Service Level Management Pack (now included in Oracle RUEI): Today, most forward-thinking organizations are moving towards using a service-oriented architecture (SOA). Using Oracle Enterprise Manager Grid Control, most applications can be defined as services and modeled using a topology viewer, and their availability and performance can be easily monitored using the Service Level Management Pack.

Service Level Agreements (SLAs) are in force in almost all companies, and this pack can help ensure that the SLAs, defined in Oracle Enterprise Manager, are being met. The Oracle Agent can function as a beacon to monitor the performance of remote locations. This pack also includes an extremely powerful Root Cause Analysis feature that automatically sifts through the services, however complex, and pinpoints the exact cause of any service failure, thereby saving a lot of time and effort in troubleshooting. Sophisticated, customizable reports known as Services Dashboards can be used to report on service level achievements.

From August 2010 onwards, the Service Level Management (SLM) Pack is combined into Oracle Real User Experience Insight (RUEI), thus providing a total end-user monitoring solution that supports real user testing as well as synthetic testing. In the latest version of RUEI, the synthetic transactions generated by SLM are recognized and can be analyzed separately from real user operations.

  • Oracle Application Testing Suite: With a scalable enterprise architecture built on Oracle WebLogic Server and Oracle Database, the three main packs available in the Oracle Application Testing Suite are Oracle Load Testing, Oracle Functional Testing, and Oracle Test Manager.

Oracle Load Testing automates the testing of Web applications, Web services, and packaged Oracle applications with powerful test scripts, simulating tens of thousands of users on minimal test hardware, while at the same time identifying bottlenecks.

Oracle Functional Testing automates functional and regression testing with its OpenScript integrated scripting platform, effectively cutting testing time in half. Oracle Test Manager, on the other hand, is a test process management solution on which the full testing processes can be built and organized. You can manage all your test assets, control execution of tests, and generate testing activity reports.

Besides these three products, the Oracle Application Testing Suite also includes functional and load testing accelerators for Oracle E-Business Suite, Oracle Siebel CRM, and Web services.

With Release 9.1 of Oracle Application Testing Suite, you can automate test script generation based on real user actions. Access is provided to middleware diagnostics during load testing to help identify performance bottlenecks. A new testing accelerator is available to simplify testing of applications based on Oracle Application Development Framework (ADF), as well as a new test starter kit for Oracle E-Business Suite R12 applications, for the purpose of reducing testing effort.

At the time of writing, Oracle Application Testing Suite Release 9.2 has been released. This release includes an Oracle Database Testing Accelerator that allows you to import transactions from Database Replay capture (a feature of Oracle Real Application Testing). This can then be used to create scripts and integrate with Enterprise Manager Diagnostics Pack to analyze the database performance under load.

Adobe Flex/AMF Functional/Load Testing Support is also included in release 9.2. New and updated test starter kits for Oracle E-Business Suite R12 and 11i are included, which include load test scripts in addition to functional test scripts.

One of the most important enhancements is that you can now create Oracle Test Manager projects based on CapGemini Sogeti’s TMap test methodology, including customized fields, reports, and associated data.

  • Oracle Application Management Suites (previously “Packs”): Popular Oracle packaged applications, such as Oracle E-Business Suite, Oracle Siebel CRM, Oracle PeopleSoft Enterprise applications, Oracle JD Edwards EnterpriseOne, and Oracle Communications Billing and Revenue Management, can all be managed easily using the appropriate application management pack.

For change management and configuration management for applications, previously, Oracle separately offered the Oracle Applications Change Management Pack and the Configuration Management Pack for Applications.

However, as of August 2010, new Oracle Application Management Suites are available for Oracle E-Business Suite, Oracle Siebel CRM, Oracle PeopleSoft Enterprise, and Oracle JD Edwards EnterpriseOne. Each of these combines capabilities from the corresponding Application Management Pack and Configuration Management Pack for Applications, as well as Real User Experience Insight (RUEI) and the related RUEI application accelerator, into one combined product.

Note: The Application Management Suite for Oracle E-Business Suite also includes features of the Application Change Management Pack for Oracle E-Business Suite. Thus, Oracle Application Management Suite is truly a comprehensive and powerful product.

  • Oracle Middleware Management Packs: For middleware, there is the Management Pack for Oracle WebLogic Server, the Oracle Coherence Management Pack, and the Oracle Management Pack Plus for SOA - this includes the Business Transaction Management (BTM) capability with the ability to drill down to and monitor transactions through IT tiers. Besides these management packs for middleware, there is also the Diagnostics Pack for Oracle Middleware and the Diagnostics Pack for Non-Oracle Middleware, which features Java application diagnostics, Java virtual machine (JVM) monitoring, plus application server management and monitoring.
  • Oracle Business Intelligence Management Pack: You can use this pack to manage your Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition applications. This pack includes configuration management and application performance management.
  • Oracle Management Pack for Identity Management Plus: As of August 2010, the management pack for identity management is now called "Oracle Management Pack for Identity Management Plus" since it covers a few more things in addition to Oracle Internet Directory, Oracle Virtual Directory, and Oracle Identity Federation.

The Plus pack now also covers the updated Oracle Identity Manager, Oracle Access Manager, and Oracle Adaptive Access Manager components, which are part of the new Oracle Identity Management 11g release.

  • Oracle Ops Center Virtualization Management Pack: Using this pack, you can manage the full lifecycle of virtual guests that use Oracle Sun virtualization technology, such as Oracle Solaris Containers and Oracle VM Server for SPARC (previously called Sun Logical Domains or LDoms). This functionality includes hot and cold migration, guest provisioning, guest creation and deletion, virtual resource pools (resource management), and storage and network management.

Note: Oracle Ops Center Provisioning and Patch Automation Pack is a prerequisite pack for the Ops Center Virtualization Management Pack. Combining the Ops Center Provisioning and Patch Automation Pack with the Ops Center Virtualization Management Pack provides a very effective solution for managing the entire lifecycle of Oracle Sun physical and virtual systems. The two packs together are a very powerful and effective systems management solution to manage Oracle’s Sun infrastructure.

Management Connectors

After the packs, we come to the Management Connectors, which are required to connect Oracle Enterprise Manager to different HelpDesk/Support case management systems, such as HP ServiceCenter, HP ServiceManager, HP OpenView Operations, Microsoft Operations Manager, Microsoft System Center Operations Manager (SCOM), IBM Tivoli Enterprise Console (TEC), Remedy HelpDesk, CA Service Desk, Oracle PeopleSoft Enterprise HelpDesk, Oracle Siebel HelpDesk, and, of course, Oracle Ops Center.

Critical alert information is shared between Oracle Enterprise Manager and the different systems using the connectors. As an example, an Oracle Enterprise Manager alert can automatically generate a Remedy HelpDesk incident. If the alert is cleared either manually or automatically in Oracle Enterprise Manager, this also closes the corresponding Remedy HelpDesk incident. The Remedy console can be launched from the Oracle Enterprise Manager console and vice versa to enable quicker problem resolution.

Oracle Enterprise Manager 11g Grid Control Release 1 includes Oracle Enterprise Manager Ops Center for managing Sun hardware and Oracle Solaris, including Oracle VM Server for SPARC (formerly known as Sun Logical Domains or LDoms) and Oracle Solaris Containers. This first level of integration means that hardware-level events can be centrally monitored via Grid Control. The Oracle Management Connector for Ops Center is deployed so that Oracle Ops Center forwards event notifications to Oracle Enterprise Manager at a user-configurable time interval. Oracle Ops Center notifications that deal with operating system performance, hardware fault information, or other infrastructure events, therefore, become Oracle Enterprise Manager alarms.

Since late 2010, all the Management Connectors are bundled with the packs that allow e-mail notifications, such as the Diagnostics Packs, System Monitoring Plug-ins, Oracle Application Management Suites, and Oracle Linux Management Pack. This bundling is done because a connector essentially functions like a notification, such as when an alert is sent by Oracle Enterprise Manager to the event and help desk systems or to another management system.

System Monitoring Plug-ins

Last but not least, various industry-grade plug-ins are available for Oracle Enterprise Manager to enable monitoring of third-party hardware and software as well as popular Oracle products, such as the Oracle Exadata Storage Server and the Oracle Times Ten In-Memory Database.

Third-party databases, such as IBM DB2, Sybase, and Microsoft SQL Server, are monitored, not managed. Storage hardware (such as the EMC Symmetrix DMX, EMC CLARiiON, EMC Celerra, NetApp Filer) and load balancers (such as the F5 BigIP Local Traffic Manager) can also be monitored using the corresponding plug-ins, which are available for third-party middleware including Apache Tomcat, JBoss Application Server, IBM Websphere MQ, and IBM WebSphere Application Server, as well as for other products, such as Microsoft Exchange Server, Active Directory, Commerce Server, BizTalk Server, the .NET Framework, IIS Server, and ISA Server.

UNIX, Linux, and Microsoft Windows hosts are also covered, as well as firewalls, such as the Juniper Netscreen Firewall and the Check Point Firewall. Note that the VMware ESX server is no longer supported (that is, there is no plug-in available for this product).

Various third-party plug-ins created by Oracle partners are also available, such as the MySQL Plug-in and the NimBUS SAP Plug-in. Since the release of Oracle Enterprise Manager Grid Control 11g Release 1 in April 2010, various partners have also released new plug-ins to monitor third-party storage solutions from IBM Storage, NEC Storage, Veritas Storage, Pillar Axiom, and HP Storageworks.

In late 2010, the System Monitoring Plug-in for Hosts and the System Monitoring Plug-in for Network Devices were merged into the Oracle Ops Center Provisioning and Patch Automation Pack. The other change is that the System Monitoring Plug-in for Storage is now bundled with the Oracle Diagnostics Pack for Database. The storage plug-ins are primarily used by DBAs to monitor database storage and diagnose storage performance issues.

Conclusion and Further Reading

The Oracle Technology Network Oracle Enterprise Manager Datasheets page provides a detailed list of the Oracle Enterprise Manager Management Packs, Management Connectors, and System Monitoring Plug-ins. In addition, the Oracle Enterprise Manager Grid Control Extensions Exchange page provides the full list of Plug-ins and Connectors.

Oracle Enterprise Manager Grid Control is a powerful enterprise management product from Oracle. You can read the following articles from the author to gain a further understanding.

To learn how to: Read this article:
Automate the patching of Oracle RAC or non-RAC databases, Oracle Automatic Storage Management (ASM) instances, and Oracle Clusterware in your environment “Patch a Thousand Databases, Using Oracle Enterprise Manager Grid Control”
Provision literally hundreds or even thousands of systems using mass provisioning techniques “Manage Mass Provisioning Using Oracle Enterprise Manager Grid Control”
Easily set up Oracle Recovery Manager (RMAN) backups for your corporate databases using Oracle Enterprise Manager Grid Control “Oracle RMAN Backups: Pushing the Easy Button”
Set up Data Integration using Oracle GoldenGate “Using Oracle GoldenGate for Real-Time Data Integration”
Understand how Oracle Enterprise Manager Grid Control can save a lot of time and resources when used for Oracle Data Guard setup, management (including switchover or failover), and monitoring “Easy Disaster Proof Production with Grid Control”
See how easily the DataMasking Pack of Oracle Enterprise Manager Grid Control can obsfucate your confidential production data as an integral part of the database cloning process “Mask Your Secrets Using Oracle Enterprise Manager”

Enjoy the world of Oracle Enterprise Manager.

Porus Homi Havewala works as a Senior Manager (Enterprise Technology) at Oracle Corporation Singapore. He was awarded the Oracle ACE Director title by Oracle HQ in 2008 and is currently an Oracle Employee ACE. He has extensive experience in Oracle technology since 1994, including as a Senior Production DBA, Principal Database Consultant, Database Architect, E-Business Technical DBA, Development DBA, and Database Designer Modeler (using Oracle Designer). He has published numerous articles on Grid Control on OTN, and he created the world's first blog dedicated to Grid Control.

Overview of Oracle Enterprise Manager Management Packs