Oracle Enterprise Manager 10g Grid ControlREVIEWER: Joong Lee, chief architect/VP of engineering, and Bob McDaniel, database manager, for EPL.

BACKGROUND: EPL, headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama, is at the forefront of delivering technological solutions to the credit union industry. For more than 25 years, EPL has offered solutions to credit unions with a focus on open architecture, power and versatility. EPL strives to be the best at offering core processing solutions as well as integrating world-class technology partners such as Sun Microsystems and Oracle.

PLATFORMS: Sun SunFire 280R, SunFire V880, Solaris 2.8; HP ProLiant DL360, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 3.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Oracle Enterprise Manager is used in monitoring and diagnostics of Oracle databases, Oracle application servers and J2EE applications. In particular, the tool is used in application service level management through proactive monitoring and alerts, deployment and configuration management of critical applications and databases.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Through Oracle Enterprise Manager's built-in application service level management functionality, critical Web application availability is checked, and we are able to monitor the actual performance that each user is experiencing. Use of remote beacon and running of prerecorded transactions on J2EE Web application provides the administrators with what the end users see. In addition, Enterprise Manager's middle tier performance analysis tool is used in a production environment to diagnose application server and back-end problems.

STRENGTHS: Enterprise Manager provides complete monitoring of the Oracle technology and applications that utilize it. It also provides installation and configuration information related to the Oracle software, operating system and hardware including patches. Several key components include Web Application Monitoring (APM), which is used to monitor J2EE applications; distributed database and application server administration, which provides administrators well organized and consolidated views of local and remote targets; enhanced diagnostics via collection of performance and availability data, in which both real-time as well as historical status and performance data for any given target is available at your fingertips; and the automated tuning of the Oracle environment and Internet-enabled architecture allow administrators to manage from anywhere. Another key strength of this product is the tight integration between Enterprise Manager and Oracle technology applications.

WEAKNESSES: Enterprise Manager does not provide the capability to configure when metrics are collected and summarized and when alerts are checked. When changing the value of a metric, every metric related to the target is cleared and an alert is generated. Its critical patch advisories are not always accurate, especially related to obsolete critical patches.

SELECTION CRITERIA: We evaluated Wily's Introscope and Mercury's Diagnostics for the purpose of monitoring and diagnosing J2EE applications running in a production environment. In evaluation, we looked at each product's overall functionality, usability, effectiveness, custom adaptation, resources required for setup and maintenance, operational considerations and costs. Oracle's Enterprise Manager met EPL's functional requirements and delivered an effective solution with much lower total cost of ownership compared to the other two products.

DELIVERABLES: The primary deliverable is a central, Web-based interface to manage and monitor the target servers and applications. Tables are used throughout the tool to present most information. Graphs are used when information can be summarized, such as availability, performance, etc. E-mails and pages are generated for alert conditions based on customizable metric conditions.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Oracle provided several opportunities to learn more about the product and how best to utilize it. An Oracle Product Manager is also in contact with us on a regular basis to ensure our needs are met, to inform us of future beta version participation and to engage us in product enhancement feedback opportunities.

DOCUMENTATION: Enterprise Manager documentation is well-organized and easy to understand and follow. The online help is useful and provides helpful information to troubleshoot performance problems.

Oracle Enterprise Manager 10g Grid Control
500 Oracle Parkway
Redwood Shores, CA 94065

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