Tuesday, August 18, 2009

More Manageable or Different Management?

With every new release of the Oracle Database, we are told that there are new manageability features to make our lives easier. Larry Ellison even told managers at one point that they wouldn't need a DBA anymore. I have been working on implementing the PeopleSoft Plug-in for Enterprise Manager and wrote a paper about it for Collaborate. I am presenting the paper again at OpenWorld and have been updating it with new information. This is where the question that is the title of this entry comes in. Do these tools make things more manageable or just force us to focus on a different kind of management?

Implementing management tools is only half the story. If monitoring was as easy as run setup and you're done, I wouldn't have needed to write a paper or do two versions of the presentation. What to monitor, what to alarm on, what level to alarm at, and who needs to be notified based on what the alarm is... All this functionality is built into the tools, but figuring out exactly how to set it all up is the trick. On some level I feel like writing shell scripts might be easier. Tools become a better bet when there are changes to the environment. Having one location to go to add new environments or take care of changes, does start to make tools worth while.

As with most application implementations, that is only half the story. Security has also been a challenge to set up because of the normal implementation of Enterprise Manager. Extending one tool, that is usually used for one purpose, in this case the database monitoring, to include other purposes, such as application monitoring, brings to light many short comings in the original implementation. In our case, our DBA's were Super Adminstrators with access to all targets in Enterprise Manager. Of course, from an application adminstration perspective, this causes separation of duties issues. So back to the security drawing board. Once this is designed properly, it is not that difficult to maintain, but building the proper design takes time.

Bottom line for me is that I still believe that monitoring tools and new manageability features make our lives easier in the long run. The moral of the story (and my presentation) is to plan up front and make sure you have a good design in place. I'm still working on my implementation because I didn't know what I didn't know when I started. Hopefully my paper and presentation can save someone some time. Even more interesting will be the new manageability features introduced in Oracle Database 11g Release 2. Hopefully more on those to come...

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