What is most valuable?
A lot of ingenuity has been put into the monitoring and alerting capabilities. There are many products (including a number of custom scripts I have written over the years) that are capable of sending basic alerts, for example when a file system mount is approaching capacity, but all of those pale in comparison to the myriad functions Enterprise Manager has. For example; taking corrective action to fix a problem before it even becomes a problem; create a trouble ticket, package the necessary log files and automatically submit that ticket; or perform root cause analysis of a number of related incidents, just to name a few.
How has it helped my organization?
I first starting using this product in a corporate IT environment to help my team monitor our Oracle databases. The product worked so well, other groups soon took notice. They saw that not only were we being alerted of potential problems before they happened, we were also able to quantify and report on those metrics. It quickly led to other groups using the various heterogeneous capabilities of EM, such as monitoring third party middleware, Sql Server, VMware and multiple storage arrays.
What needs improvement?
Enterprise Manager is not easy or for the faint of heart. It is extremely robust, and hence very complicated to set up and maintain. A tool like this requires a company to put a lot of eggs in small number of baskets. Creating an environment to maintain five or more nines is complex and expensive.
For how long have I used the solution?
What was my experience with deployment of the solution?
Deployment is generally the most difficult part, especially when implementing high availability and disaster recovery. The installers run well but each implementation is highly unique. Once the system is installed and running, the agents need to be deployed to the various systems throughout the environment, targets needed to be added and configured, templates need to be set up, users and authentication need to be added and metrics need to be defined. Enterprise Manager has come a long way with the ability to export information through templates and other methods but the initial deployment will always take time and resources.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
Once the product is deployed, it is very stable. In fact by the definition of it being a management and monitoring utility, it must be highly stable and available. Enterprise Manager has self-monitoring features built in as well to notify administrators immediately if it is not available. There are a number of articles in My Oracle Support that show how to have other third-party products monitoring Enterprise Manager as well.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
The only issue I can see with scalability is not being able to multi-master the repository. The repository requires a single Oracle database. The database can use HA features like Oracle RAC or DR features like Oracle Data Guard, but there can only be one active database at a time. The middleware is Oracle Weblogic which also has robust clustering and load balancing capabilities.
How are customer service and technical support?
I am in regular contact with a number of software engineers with Oracle and many of the product managers that work on Enterprise Manager. They have all been more than willing to engage me, my customers and my colleagues on how they can make Enterprise Manager work better for its users. I have never felt like my comments, gripes or accolades have fallen on deaf ears. In fact, they are usually eagerly accepted and many times invited. This is one of the strengths of Oracle as a whole, especially the Enterprise Manager team. Technical Support
In general, the technical support is very good. Because of the large scale implementations I am doing, the issues I report to My Oracle Support (MOS) are often bugs and must go through multiple layers, including development to find or create a patch to fix an issue. The problem in general with MOS is that there is a lot of wasted time getting through the first tier of support to the high level technicians that can actually find and fix the problem. This usually requires escalation to a manager or help from someone internal to Oracle.
Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?
I have used a number of monitoring, provisioning and lifecycle management solutions and continue to do so. I have never found a product that has so many of these capabilities in a single product and a single user interface. I don't believe there is another product in the same class as Enterprise Manager. The fact that I work so closely with Oracle products on a daily basis makes this even more relevant. Enterprise Manager is obviously at its best when working with Oracle products and not as strong as other third party products that are designed to work more closely with their own products so I will continue to work with other products similar to Enterprise Manager as well when it is more advantageous.
How was the initial setup?
The actual installation of Enterprise Manager is fairly straightforward. However, that is just a small piece of what needs to happen for a full deployment. The full deployment is almost always complex which makes each installation complex. This is especially true when deploying for high availability and disaster recovery.
What about the implementation team?
I have done it both ways. The first large implementation I did was 100% in-house by myself and a half-dozen other Oracle DBAs. I now work for a solutions provider and help other organizations with their implementations.
What other advice do I have?
Do not expect to have a full implementation complete in a couple of days. There are many hours of work and many different steps to go through. There is a lot of collaboration that must happen with other teams; database, networking, storage, applications, developers, identity management, firewall and others. Find out how long it takes to process your longest change request and multiply that by 30.