Oracle unveils Enterprise Manager 11g and 'integrated stack'

Oracle's new Enterprise Manager 11g promises an 'integrated stack,' but how many data centers have enough Oracle products installed to benefit?

Oracle has rolled out Enterprise Manager 11g, continuing to push the idea of a full IT stack owned and managed by Oracle.

For more on Oracle and Sun Microsystems:
Sun users heartened by Oracle's pledge to support Sparc, Solaris

Oracle acquires Sun: What does it mean for mainframes?

Oracle's notion of an "integrated stack" is that all products -- from the application layer to the hardware -- come from Oracle; in return, Oracle promises these components will can better communicate with one another, use a single management console and, eventually, all lead to one entity to point to when support is needed. The question is whether data center managers run enough Oracle to need such integration.

Integration throughout the stack could make Oracle Enterprise Manager beneficial for Oracle users who buy into the application-to-disk concept Oracle is trying to sell. But for those with heterogeneous environments, Enterprise Manager won't provide the same level of support.

Other features Oracle touted with Enterprise Manager 11g include business-driven application features that help companies connect and track a business transaction to the underlying IT that supports it. It also announced full support for newer in-house products such as Oracle Database 11g Release 2, Exadata Version 2, and Sun servers. .

Do data centers need an integrated stack 
The Oracle acquisition of Sun Microsystems Inc. could bring some IT management benefits to those running Sun servers, or at least, that's what Ajit Solomon hopes. A database administrator at a major financial institution, Solomon said a prior version of Enterprise Manager doesn't provide enough insight into OS operations, and as a result he often ends up jumping between interfaces to get information. His shop runs Oracle databases and apps on Sun servers running Solaris. The new version promises tighter integration with all Oracle products, which now includes Solaris, but it's unclear whether it will solve Solomon's problems.

"I'd like to see more details on the operating system," he said. "If I did, I wouldn't have to manually go into the OS logs to get some of the information."

Solomon runs Solaris on Sparc servers, and so Oracle's integration promises could pay dividends. Forrester analyst JP Garbani said the integration is part of a future state called enterprise management 2.0. Garbani, who spoke at the Oracle launch of the new version of Enterprise Manager in New York on Thursday, said that in many data centers today, you're buying servers from one vendor, custom middleware applications, databases from another vendor, and management tools from some or all of them. According to him, that breeds complexity.

"You're putting it all together, and it's consuming a lot of resources and a lot of time," he said.

Oracle President Charles Phillips also addreseed that concept, saying that with integrated support, there is "no finger pointing" and "we figure it out."

That's all well and good, but the fact remains that most Oracle customers don't run the complete IT stack that Oracle is selling. As a result, they can't expect the IT management features of Oracle Enterprise Manager to be as comprehensive.

"With the Oracle stack, we can do deeper configuration work," said Richard Sarwal, the vice president of server performance at Oracle. "We certainly support a wide variety of non-Oracle hardware and software, but it's just a matter of the depth of management possible."

Mark Fontecchio can be reached at mfontecchio@techtarget.com

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