Oracle boosts database management tools

Oracle Corp. is moving to centralize systems management, monitoring and performance-analysis operations for users of its databases and middleware.

At its OracleWorld conference in San Francisco this week, Oracle plans to announce the latest version of its Enterprise Manager software. Company officials said Version 4.0 will let IT staffers proactively monitor their entire Oracle database installations, from the underlying hardware to end-user devices.

“Right now, when people look at performance, they look at the systems but don’t see it from an end-user perspective,” said Rene Bonvanie, vice president of marketing for Oracle9i products. But, he added, the Enterprise Manager upgrade will let administrators monitor complete technology stacks without having to cobble together multiple management applications.

Version 4.0 will also add the ability to view various performance benchmarks, such as query response times, through a single user interface, Bonvanie said. In addition, it can track what software patches a user has installed and how well they’re performing.

Arthur Meacham, computer-assisted dispatch system administrator for the Caddo Parish 9-1-1 District in Shreveport, La., says the new capabilities in Version 4.0 sound appealing. The public-safety agency uses an Oracle8.1.7 database running on a Windows NT server to support the routing of police and fire calls and the dispatching of emergency vehicles. It also uses the Oracle9i application server and portal software to make information available to the public on its Web site.

“I’m the sole DBA at my site, and it’s my responsibility to keep up with performance,” Meacham said. A centralized interface would make that process much simpler, he added. Meacham currently uses Enterprise Manager 2.2 to handle database analysis and other functions.

“Certainly, anything to integrate the tools even more would be welcome,” said Dan Vlamis, president of Vlamis Software Solutions Inc., a Liberty, Mo.-based Oracle consultancy. Vlamis is also president of the business intelligence special-interest group within the Chicago-based International Oracle Users Group.

He noted that how well Oracle’s message sells may depend on the audience. Many database administrators will be interested in simplifying management routines, Vlamis predicted. But higher-level IT executives often don’t take ease of management into consideration, he added.

IBM Corp. is building self-tuning and self-management capabilities into an upgrade of its DB2 database that’s due out late this month, and Microsoft Corp. claims to have embedded similar features in its SQL Server software.

But Wayne Kernochan, an analyst at Aberdeen Group Inc. in Boston, said IBM and Microsoft separate database administration from systems management. Oracle’s combined approach could help companies that have database administrators managing multiple installations of its databases, but it may not be as appealing to users with multivendor software, he added.