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Monday, October 15, 2012

Private Cloud: Putting some method behind the madness


By Sudip Datta on Oct 09, 2012

Finally, I decided to join the blogging community. And what could be a better time to start than the week after OpenWorld 2012. 50K+ attendees, demonstrations, speaker sessions and a whole lot of buzz on Oracle Cloud..It was raining clouds in this year's Openworld. I am not here to write about Oracle's cloud strategy in general, but on Enterprise Manager's cloud management capabilities. This year's Openworld was the first after we announced the 12c Cloud Control and we were happy to share the stage with quite a few early adopters. Stay tuned for videos from our customers and partners, I will post them as they get published.
I met a number of platform administrators in Oracle-DBAs, Middleware Admins, SOA Admins...The cloud has affected them all, at least to the point where it beckoned more than just curiosity..Most IT infrastructure are already heavily virtualized (on VMWare and on others including Oracle VM), and some would claim they are already on “cloud” (at least their Sysadmins told them so). But none of them were confident of the benefits because their pain points continued to grow.. Isn't cloud supposed to ease those? Instead, they were chasing hundreds of databases running on hundreds of VMs, often with as much certainty propounded by Heisenberg. What happened to the age-old IT discipline around administration, compliance, configuration management?
VMs are great for what they are. I personally think they have opened the doors to new approaches in which an application stack gets provisioned and updated. In fact, Enterprise Manager 12c is possibly the only tool out there that can provision full-fledged application as VM Assemblies. In this year's Openworld, customers talked on how they provisioned RAC and Siebel assemblies, which as the techies out there know, are not trivial (hearing provisioning time for Siebel down from weeks to hours was gratifying indeed). However, I do have an issue with a "one-size fits all" approach to cloud. In a week's span, I met several personas:
  • Project owners requiring an EC2 like VM instance for their projects
  • Admins needing the same for Sparc-Solaris.
  • DBAs requiring dedicated databases for new projects
  • APEX Developers needing just a ready-to-consume schema as a service
  • Java Developers looking for a runtime platform
  • QA engineers needing a fast clone of their production environment
If you drill down further, you will end up peeling more layers of the details. For example, the requirements for Load testing and Functional testing are very different. For Load testing the test environment should ideally be the same as the production. You shouldn't run production on Exadata and load test on a VM; they will just not be good representations of one another. For Functional testing it does not possibly matter.
DBAs seem to be at the worst affected of the lot. It seems they have been asked to choose between agile provisioning and  faster runtime performance. And in some cases, it is really a Hobson's choice, because their infrastructure provider made no distinction between the OLTP application and the Virtual desktop! Sad indeed. 
When one looks at the portfolio of services that we already offer (vanilla IaaS, VM Assembly based PaaS, DBaaS) or have announced (Java PaaS, Instant Cloning, Schema-aaS), one can possibly think that we are trying to be the "renaissance man" ! Well I would have possibly digested that had it not been for the various personas that I described above.
Getting the use cases right is very important for an application such as cloud management. We iterate and iterate over these over and over again and re-validate them in CABs (Customer Advisory Boards). We consider over the major aspects of tenancy: service placement, resource isolation (can a tenant execute an expensive SQL and run away with all the resources), quota and security. We, in Engineering, keep reminding ourselves that we are dealing with enterprise clouds. We owe it to our customer base !
In the coming posts, I will drill down more into each of the services. In the meanwhile, here are some collateral and  demos for starters with EM 12c.
Sudip Datta
(Senior Director of Product Management, Oracle Enterprise Manager)
The views expressed here are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Oracle.

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