Why Oracle DBAs no longer need VMware vCenter Console access

by bluemedora_editor on March 27, 2013

Late last year David Klee at House of Brick Technologies, an absolute top-notch services/consulting firm made up of industry experts on virtualizing databases of all sorts, posted a blog titled Why Your DBAs need VMware vCenter Console Access.

In David’s outstanding post he outlined three primary reasons why DBAs who administer databases that are virtualized on VMware need access to the VMware vCenter console in order to do their jobs.  In his blog post the three primary reasons David cites for DBAs requiring access to the VMware console are:

  1. Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt (FUD)
  2. Performance Investigation
  3. Education

In this blog post, I am going to demonstrate why Blue Medora’s Oracle EM Plugin for VMware breaks a longstanding paradigm in which Oracle DBAs who are using Oracle Enterprise Manger 12c to manage to their Oracle databases virtualized on VMware (or are considering doing so in the future) also have had to become fluent with the VMware vCenter Console and manage their Oracle database workloads in both EM12c and well as the VMware console.

Beyond discussing why the VMware vCenter Console may not longer be required, I’m going to do one better and outline how the deep integration of VMware and Oracle EM12c via Blue Medora’s VMware plugin can provide insights into Oracle database performance on VMware that weren’t even possible before from EM12c.

Reason #1 – Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt (FUD)

David Klee eloquently discussed the fact that DBAs tend to be, not surprisingly, control freaks of the first order, and the fact that their Oracle databases are now running within something they can’t see without accessing the VMware vSphere console makes DBAs uneasy.  To quote Klee:

“Database administrators, like most technologists, like to be in control of their environments. They are also usually the types of people that love numbers and metrics. However, in most cases, most of the server infrastructure underneath their databases is a black box, out of their control or direct access, frequently due to organizational silos. Most DBAs are bothered by this lack of transparency, and that black box simply contributes to distrust between the silos. Adding a virtualization layer into their worlds introduces yet another layer that becomes yet another black box.”

With Blue Medora’s Oracle EM Plugin for VMware, we’ve addressed this concern head on.  The driving motivation behind the VMware Plugin is to finally provide Oracle DBAs full transparency into VMware from within their preferred Oracle management tool — Oracle EM.  With the VMware plugin those black boxes David mentioned become clear windows into the root cause of those performance bottlenecks.

The VMware plugin includes the following set of distinct EM targets:

  • VMware vSphere – a rolled up view of the entire vCenter managed environment
  • VMware Datacenter – a rolled up view of all the VMware objects with a vSphere Datacenter
  • VMware Hypervisor – a VMware ESXi server
  • VMware Cluster – a VMware Cluster containing 1 or more ESXi servers
  • VMware Virtual Machine – A VM running within the VMware environment

Within those five distinct EM target types, you’ll find over 400 metrics.  Collectively they provide a wide array of performance, availability, and health insights into each layer of the VMware infrastructure.

That VMware “black box” that your Oracle database is running on top of is becoming a lot less murky at this point.

Reason #2 – Performance Investigation

David’s next reason why DBAs require access to the VMware console is the most obvious one — when there are database performance issues DBAs need to be able to access the VMware console to understand if the problem exists at the virtualization layer or not:

“During a real-time investigation, vCenter statistics can be used to quickly see performance levels of these servers. These statistics almost always objectively show that the virtualization layer should not be suspected. The investigation will then continue down the system stack. These statistics can even be used to increase the speed of resolution by possibly highlighting obvious performance anomalies when compared against system baselines.”

 

In previous blog posts I showed you how the VMware plugin reveals all of the layers in the virtualization stack in one convenient, manageable location.  This makes traversing the layers during investigation easy as you leverage the 400+ VMware-specific metrics collected by the plugin to perform root cause analysis.  Oracle EM turns those collected metrics into a story of your system over the past minutes, hours, days, weeks, and months to establish those important baselines for you and give you the power to set intelligent thresholds to detect performance anomalies the moment they happen.

If you look closely at the above screenshot of a VMware Virtual Machine’s performance metrics (as viewed in Oracle EM) you will notice it looks nearly identical to the ‘Advanced  -> Performance’ metrics tab with the VMware vCenter console.  That isn’t an accident — we’ve design the VMware plugin so that all the key performance metrics you need to understand what’s happening in the VM where you’re running your Oracle database are viewable within Oracle EM so you can understand Oracle database performance within the context of VMware VM performance.

Reason #3 – Education

David’s last reason why DBAs need access to the VMware vSphere console is that DBAs need to be educated. The best way for them to become educated is to spend time in the VMware console so they can understand the logical model behind a virtualized environment. Then and only then can they can truly understand what part the virtualization layer plays in the performance, health, and availability of DBA’s mission critical databases:

“Educate the DBAs, grant them access to see what the virtualization layer does (and doesn’t do), and let them see the truth behind enterprise virtualization.”

Up to this point, as it relates to Oracle databases, David was spot on with his recommendation that the solution to the education problem is the VMware vCenter console.  Until recently it made all the sense in the world for Oracle DBAs to dig into the VMware vCenter console to educate themselves on how the various virtualization layers (ESX Hypervisors, Datastore, VM, Cluster, etc) interact and affect Oracle DB performance.  The recent developments on Blue Medora’s Oracle EM Plugin for VMware, which has achieved Oracle Validated Integration status, has not changed, but blown up this paradigm., With Blue Medora’s plugin, Oracle DBAs are finally granted the ability to explore  view, manage, and understand the VMware virtualization layer from their own preferred management console – Oracle Enterprise Manager.

A close examination of the screenshot above reveals a composite view of a Oracle database, the VM the database is running within, the ESX Hypervisor the VM is running on, as well as the SAN datastore the VM lives on is all pulled together into a single, contextual, Oracle EM dashboard.

You’ll also see  a set of management controls that allow you to Power On/Off, Suspend, Reset, Shutdown, and Reboot the VM are also provided.

You won’t see a view that looks anything like this in the VMware vCenter console – in fact the vCenter console has zero awareness that a Oracle database exists much less any availability, health, or performance characteristics of that Oracle database.

Summary

Dave Klee was absolutely correct back last year when he wrote the DBAs who are managing databases running on VMware absolutely had to train themselves on utilize the VMware vCenter Console.

With the introduction of the Blue Medora Oracle EM plug-in for VMware, I’m happy to say that Oracle DBAs no longer have to learn how to use “yet another tool” – everything they need to know about VMware is now available to them in the their preferred management tool – Oracle EM.    I encourage to try it out – a trial download is available here.

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