What is our primary use case?
We are an Oracle reseller and I have worked with different customers using this solution. This review is largely based on one of my customer's experience with the solution.
This solution allows customers to be able to monitor and manage the complete Oracle IT infrastructure in a single console. Many customers want to consolidate their infrastructure; they gain more in support services, performance, and security because the more you have consolidated, the better the service delivery, and the better the return on investment. The customers who have benefited most are fully consolidated using Oracle storage, Oracle hardware, Oracle databases, and Oracle applications.
In the event that there is an increase in workload, there is a single point of support services. When there is a mix of technologies, you have issues with services, and this is the reason that a unified platform is beneficial.
How has it helped my organization?
This solution is designed to maintain critical business applications, and sometimes there are a large number of them. Once this solution is configured, it will help administrators centralize their management of the environment.
With version 12c, it allows you to not only administer but provides valuable insight into the physical server. This includes information such as CPU usage, storage, workload, and details about the operating system.
Ultimately, this solution provides for centralization of everything. The administrators are notified of relevant issues, so a local administrator can attend to fix the problem. This means that problem identification and resolution is quite fast.
Prior to having a single point of management, IT services would not necessarily be able to quickly find the problem. For example, it may arise because of the operating system, CPU utilization, or maybe the hardware. You would not necessarily know what has happened within the environment.
What is most valuable?
The current version of this solution has an extensible architecture that not only looks to support the users, but also the hardware, including the storage, as well as all of the applications that you're implementing. There have been enhancements in the security and the reporting.
The most valuable feature is that you have a central line of management, by way of the console, for the administrators. It is a very big advantage.
It also provides valuable insight into everything that you do, including memory and storage utilization.
What needs improvement?
Because this solution provides insight into all of the areas within the IT stack, it would benefit from enhancements in security. This is a major concern for our customers.
The cost for the licenses needs to be improved because they are expensive and scare many customers away from Oracle. This is unfortunate because Oracle products give the customer what they need. In the case of this solution, it is optional, rather than built-in to Oracle 12c. With this in mind, the cost should be lower, otherwise many users will not adopt the product.
One suggestion that I have for the vendor is to ensure that their sales team has technical knowledge about the products for which they are selling. Some customers have been misguided on certain products because the sales team did not fully understand them. Oracle needs to look into people who have strong skills in both selling and implementing the technology.
For how long have I used the solution?
Approximately two years.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
The first release of version 12c contained bugs. However, many of them have been fixed and the second release is a lot more stable.
The product itself has no issues. The only challenge comes from having to perform backup and recovery of the entire production environment.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
This solution is highly scalable. There is no limitation on how many nodes you are going to be able to monitor.
Generally, once the installation is complete, customers do not expand the usage of the product.
How are customer service and technical support?
I do not use the technical support for this solution myself. Also, I have not heard any followup from my customers about the quality of their local support services. Often, I will travel to perform a full deployment. Once the deployment is complete, I normally do not hear back the from customers. They deal with the Oracle support themselves, if necessary.
I do spend some time training the administrators to help orient them with respect to the product, and they are happy with that, but I do not generally hear feedback beyond this.
If you previously used a different solution, which one did you use and why did you switch?
Prior to the current version, my customer was using version 11g.
How was the initial setup?
This is a straightforward product, and there were not any challenges during deployment. Keep in mind that this product is deployed only after everything else has been set up in the environment. Once everything else is running, this solution will help you to monitor everything. It is not a complex setup.
This is generally a one-day deployment, depending on how complex the environment is and how many agents you are going to be monitoring. In my environment, there were only three or four agents, so it only took me one day to deploy a four-node cluster. In my case, the agents were only for monitoring, so I did not have to worry about the configuration. It was not as complex as I was expecting.
I had performed a couple of installations on my site, in advance. Normally, before deploying at a customer site, I work with solutions in my test environment. This made it very easy to deploy. Also, this particular customer was already using a previous version of Oracle, so I was comfortable with all of the technologies that were there.
What about the implementation team?
I handled the implementation of this solution for my customer.
What was our ROI?
My customer has absolutely seen a return on investment. At the end of the day, problem resolution becomes much more seamless. There is a single management console, and even the Oracle Support Team is able to access it so that they can fix things quickly. The turnaround time in problem resolution is definitely improved.
What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?
The licensing costs are largely too high. Particularly in the African market, companies struggle a lot in terms of IT costs.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
Our customer was contacted directly by Oracle, who suggested that they consider Oracle Grid Control. Rather than Grid control, they instead opted for Oracle Cloud Control. It was implemented immediately after they upgraded to version 12c.
What other advice do I have?
I find that this product is highly complete because it points to almost everything in the environment. This includes the hardware, the operating system, the database, and the applications. The primary users of this solution are system administrators.
There is a challenge in upgrading from a previous version, such as 11c, to version 12c. It comes about because version 12c has a new Enterprise Manager Control, which is limited in terms of features, but does contain functionality for administrators to support customer IT environments and maintain uptime.
Many of my customers were reluctant to upgrade immediately after version 12c came out. Rather, they were more comfortable waiting for the second release. With this, many customers in East Africa have begun to adopt the new environment. Most of the bugs that were present in the first release have been fixed in the second.
There are some customers who are discouraged by how often there are major releases of this solution. It seems that almost every two years, a new product comes onto the market. Some customers have complained, for example, that a new version is about to be released, but they have not yet upgraded to the current version. In our domain, one of the biggest challenges is that the customers take a long time to adopt some of the new technology. Sometimes, by the time they get to understand the benefits and features of the newer product, it is too late.
Some customers have inquired about backup and recovery, and whether this solution will recover from the loss of data. This is something that depends on customer policy. Different customers will try different backup solutions, such as Snapshot, or using a High Availability approach that integrates Oracle Data Guard with Real Application Clusters (RAC) or Oracle GoldenGate. The Cloud Control solution is responsible for the management of everything within the environment, so it is not something that controls backup and recovery. Rather, it streamlines the management of services, environment, and application workload.
There is also an issue in this industry with a lack of people in pre-sales who have technical expertise in the products. Because of this, some customers are misguided. My advice is to make sure that you speak with somebody with such expertise before moving forward with any solution.
In summary, I would highly recommend this solution. As an engineer, over the years I have found it highly cumbersome and hectic when monitoring many services and applications. It becomes difficult to be able to meet your SLA, or service-level targets. But, with Oracle Cloud Control, you are able to meet your SLA targets.
I would rate this solution a nine out of ten.
Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Reseller.