Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Zero Data Loss Recovery Appliance

During Oracle Openworld 2014 Oracle released the Zero Data Loss Recovery Appliance as one of the new Oracle Engineered Systems. The Zero Data Loss Recovery Appliance is an Oracle Engineered System specifically designed to address backup and recovery related challenges in the modern database deployments. It is specifically designed to ensure that a customer can always perform a point in time recovery in an always on economy where downtime result directly in loss of revenue en the loss of data can potentially result in bankrupting the enterprise.

According to the Oracle documentation the key features of the Zero Data Loss Recovery Appliance are:
  • Real-time redo transport
  • Secure replication
  • Autonomous tape archival
  • End-to-end data validation
  • Incremental-forever backup strategy
  • Space-efficient virtual full backups
  • Backup operations offload
  • Database-level protection policies
  • Database-aware space management
  • Cloud-scale architecture
  • Unified management and control 
According to the same documentation the key benefits of the Zero Data Loss Recovery Appliance are:
  • Eliminate Data Loss
  • Minimal Impact Backups
  • Database Level Recoverability
  • Cloud-scale Data Protection
Even though the Zero Data Loss Recovery Appliance brings some nice features and the key benefits and key features Oracle states in the documentation are very valid the main point is not broadcasted in the documentation. The mentioned points are in many enterprises already available in the form of self build solutions based upon a number of solutions from vendors. Backup software is in most cases Oracle RMAN or a combination of Oracle RMAN and a third vendor software solution. Hardware is commonly from different vendors, a vendor for the server hardware, a vendor for the storage and a vendor for the tape appliances.

One of the main benefits of introducing the Zero Data Loss Recovery Appliance is that it provides the perfect leverage to ensure that all backup and recovery strategies are standardized and optimized in an Oracle best practice manner. In most enterprise deployments you still see that backup and recovery strategies differ over a wide Oracle database deployment landscape.

It is not unseen that backup and recovery strategies involves multiple teams and multiple tools and scripts and that multiple ways of implementation are used over time. By not having an optimized and standardized solution for backup and recovery organizations do not have the ability to have an enterprise wide insight in how well the data is protected against data loss and a uniform way of working for recovery is missing. This introduces the risk that data is lost due to missed backups or due to a non compatible way of restoring.

In the below diagram a dual datacenter solution for Zero Data Loss Recovery Appliance is shown in which it is connected to a Oracle Exadata machine. However, all databases regardless of the server platform they are deployed on can be connected to the Zero Data Loss Recovery Appliance.

When operating a large enterprise wide Oracle landscape customers do use Oracle Enterprise Manager for full end-to-end monitoring and management. One of the additional benefits of the Zero Data Loss Recovery Appliance is that it can fully be managed by Oracle Enterprise Manager. This means that the complete management of all components is done via Oracle Enterprise Manager. This in contrast to home grown solutions where customers are in some cases forced to use management tooling for all the different hardware and software components that make the full backup and recovery solution.

For more information about the Zero Data Loss Recovery Appliance please also refer to the below shown presentation.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Oracle Enterprise Manager, Metering and Chargeback

When discussing IT with the business side of an enterprise the general opinion is that IT departments should, among other things, be like a utility company. Providing services to the business so they can accelerate in what they do. Not dictating how to do business but providing the services needed, when, where and how the business needs them. This point of view is a valid one, and is fueled by the rise of cloud and the Business Driven IT Management paradigm.

The often forgotten, overlooked or deliberately ignored part of viewing your IT department as a utility company is that the consumer is charged based upon consumption. In many enterprise, large and small the funding of the IT department and the funding of projects is done based a perceptual charge of the budget a department receives in the annual budget. The consolidated value of the IT share of all departments is the budget for the IT department. Even though this seems to be reasonable fare way it is in many cases an unfair distribution of IT costs.

When business departments consider the IT department as a service organization in the way they consider utility companies a service organization the natural evolutionary step is that the IT department will invoice the business departments based upon usage. By transforming the financial funding from the IT department from a budget income to a commercial gained income a number of things will be accomplished:

  • Fare distribution of IT costs between business departments
  • Forcing IT departments to become more effective
  • Forcing IT departments to become more innovative
  • Forcing IT departments to become more financially aware

One of the foundations of this strategy is that the IT department will be able to track the usage of systems. As companies are moving to cloud based solutions, implementing systems in private clouds and public clouds this is providing the ideal moment in time to go to pay-per-use model.

When using Oracle Enterprise Manager as part of your cloud, as for example used in the blog post “The future of the small cloud” you can also use the “metering and chargeback” options that are part of the cloud foundation of Oracle Enterprise Manager. Oracle Enterprise Manager allows you to monitor the usages of assets that you define, for a price per time unit you define. When deploying the metering and chargeback solution within Oracle Enterprise Manager the implementation models to calculate the price per time unit for your internal departments are virtually endless.
The setup of metering and chargeback focuses around defining charge plans and assigning the charge plans to specific internal customers and cost centers.

The setup of the full end-to-end solution will take time, time to setup the technical side of things as shown as an example screenshot below. However, the majority of the time you will need to spend is to identify and calculate what the exact price for an item should be. This should include all the known costs and hidden costs IT departments have before it is delivered to internal customers. For example, housing, hosting, management, employees, training, licenses, etc etc. This all should be calculated into the price per item per time unit. This is a pure financial calculation that needs to be done.

Even though metering and chargeback is a part of the Oracle Enterprise Manager solution in reality it is in most companies used as a metering and showback solution to inform internal departments about the costs. A next step is for companies currently using metering and showback within Oracle Enterprise Manager is to really bill internal departments based upon consumption. This however is more an internal mind change then a technological implementation.

Implementing “metering and chargeback” is a solution that is needed more and more in modern enterprise. Not purely from a technical point of view but rather more from a business model modernization point of view. By implementing Oracle Enterprise Manager as the central management and monitoring solution and include the “metering and chargeback” options modern enterprises get a huge benefit out of the box and have a direct benefit.

Manage all databases with one tool

When Oracle acquired Sun a lot of active MySQL users have been wondering in which direction the development of MySQL would go to. Oracle has been developing and expanding the functionality of the MySQL database continuously since the acquisition. The surprising part of the MySQL database has been that the integration with Oracle Enterprise Manager has not been developed. Up until now, during Oracle OpenWorld 2014, Oracle announced the launch of the Oracle Enterprise Manager plugin for the MySQL enterprise edition.

A non-official version of a MySQL plugin has already been around for some time, however, the launch of the official MySQL plugin is significant. Not especially from a new technological point of view but rather from an integration and management point of view the introduction of the MySQL plugin is considered important.

The majority of the enterprises who do host Oracle databases do also host Oracle MySQL databases in their IT infrastructure. The statement that MySQL is only used for small databases and small deployments is incorrect as an example Facebook runs tens of thousands of MySQL servers and a typical instance is 1 to 2 TB. As companies do implement and use Oracle databases and most likely Oracle middleware they do have the need for central management by using Oracle Enterprise Manager 12C. Possibly use it to improve the day to day operations and maintenance of the landscape, possibly to use a cloud based approach to IT management.

Prior to the launch of the Oracle Enterprise Manager MySQL plugin launch companies where forced to use out of band management tooling for day to day operations.

With the introduction of the Oracle Enterprise Manager MySQL plugin you can now incorporate the management of the MySQL databases into your Oracle Enterprise Manager. This will provide you a single point of management and monitoring resulting directly in a more and better managed IT landscape and a quick return on investment due to better management.

On a high level the new Oracle Enterprise Manager MySQL plugin provides the following features:

  • MySQL Performance Monitoring
  • MySQL Availability Monitoring
  • MySQL Metric Collection
  • MySQL Alerts and Notifications
  • MySQL Configuration Management
  • MySQL Reports
  • MySQL Remote Monitoring

In general the use of the MySQL plugin for Oracle Enterprise Manager provides you the option to unify the monitoring and management of all your MySQL and Oracle databases in one tool which will result in better management, improved service availability and stability as well as a reduction in cost due to centralizing tooling and mitigating against unneeded downtime.