Category Archives: Oracle

Announcing Xen Transcendent Memory project

If you have more than one child, you’ve probably heard yourself say things like “if you are not using your train, you should let your brother play with it” more often than you’d like. The same happens in a datacenter (minus the screams and tears, at least usually). In that context, the rivaling siblings take the form of guest virtual machines and the toys in contention are the physical resources of the host system: CPU, I/O, memory. While virtualization platforms do a pretty good job at efficiently sharing the first two, the situation is not nearly as good for memory. It is often, as a result, the limiting factor for virtualization-driven consolidation. A new project aims to fix this.

The Oracle engineers working on the Xen-based Oracle Virtual Machine have just announced a new open source (GPL-licensed) project to improve the sharing of physical memory between guest virtual machines on the same physical system. It’s called Transcendent Memory, or tmem for short.

Much more information, including a comparison with VMWare’s memory balloon, is available from the project home page.

Another reason to come to the upcoming Xen Summit (February 24 and 25), hosted by Oracle here at headquarters.

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Filed under Everything, Linux, Open source, Oracle, OVM, Tech, Virtualization, Xen

Here comes WSTF

A new Web services-related industry body has been announced today: WSTF (Web Services Test Forum). More details about it from Infoworld. My employer (Oracle) seems to be one of the drivers (along with IBM) but I am not personally involved.

A lot of hand-wringing, of course, about its relationship with WS-I. Which is understandable if you consider what WS-I was originally supposed to deliver (profiles, sample applications and testing tools). But not if you consider what it has actually delivered that is relevant (a couple of profiles, some time ago). WSTF could also be compared with the SOAPBuilders Yahoo group, but since that group has seen only two emails messages so far in 2008 (last one dated April 2nd), it seems safe to consider it dead. It would be interesting to know why that is though (it used to be pretty active in the early days) and what lesson WSTF may learn from it. Another effort you may want to compare this to is the Microsoft Web Services Protocol Workshops Process. It’s too early to tell, but they may turn out to be more closely related than meets the eye.

I noticed this innocuous-sounding sentence in the press release (warning, PDF): “As an open community, WSTF has made it easy to introduce new interoperability scenarios and approve work through simple majority governance”. You may wonder why this is important enough to figure in the press release.

I interpret it as a dog whistle call (heard only by those to whom it is intended) for the WS-I board. Microsoft’s Paul Cotton responds to it in his quote for Infoworld: “WS-I provides a proven and open organization and process that best suits our customers’ needs”. He also talks about “the incredible industry-wide momentum and leadership of WS-I”, which is indeed not very credible (especially the momentum part). The WS-I process, associated board politics and resulting inaction is what I was talking about in this entry (“veto rules being commonly invoked, stopping most of the activities that the resort was originally planning to offer”).

Speaking of this “Standardstown” blog entry, I should probably soon update it to include WSTF. What should it be? Maybe a trailer park in which customers bring their own lodging, put them side by side and see how they line up?

The current test scenarios seem to focus on fixing the interoperability mess that is WS-Addressing. I assume more will soon be added to test the different WS-* specifications out there. It will be interesting to see what direction WSTF takes after that. Will the payloads of the test messages be obvious dummy payloads (so that the focus is on testing the implementation of the WS-* protocols)? Or will they start to include real payloads (e.g. real purchase orders from real enterprise applications)? How about this: “dear vendor, I will only buy your wonderfully open, standard and interoperable Web services-based application when it is available as a WSTF endpoint and there are three other real-life products (including one from your main competitor) that successfully interoperate with the exact same SOAP messages I will be using”. This could become an interesting tussle between vendors as well as between vendors and buyers.

Alternatively, of course, WSTF could turn into a test of how much difference there is between a “standard” and a publicly specified and interop-tested interaction scenario…

A quick (and unsuccesful) Technorati search for some blog comments returns the “WSTF Dark Retribution Dinorobots Limited Giftset” which “includes all five Dinorobots in their sinister evil incarnation”. Can’t say you were not warned…

[UPDATED 2008/12/10: Gilbert Pilz, who was involved with WSTF from the start (and also left a comment on this entry, see below), wrote a detailed description of the problem WSTF tries to address and how Gilbert and others have structured WSTF to solve it.]

[UPDATED 2008/12/15: Via InfoQ, another long description of the goals and processes of WSTF, this time from Doug Davis.]

[UPDATES 2009/1/5: Chris Ferris also weighs in, including his view on the relationship with WS-I. Having participated in several of the early WS-I plenary meetings, I have to wonder if Chris had any double-entente in mind when he wrote that WS-I helps “the community understand where the bar is”.]

[UPDATED 2009/2/17: A response from Redmond.]

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Filed under Everything, IBM, Implementation, Microsoft, Oracle, SOAP, Specs, Standards, Testing

Running Oracle in Amazon’s cloud

The announcement finally came out. Users can now run supported versions of Oracle Enterprise Linux, 11G Database, Fusion Middleware and Enterprise Manager on Amazon EC2 instances. You can create your own AMI or use any of the pre-packaged AMIs with the above-mentioned products. And you don’t have to purchase new licenses, you can transfer existing ones to run on Amazon’s infrastructure.

A separate but related announcement is the possibility to simply and securely backup your databases on Amazon S3 instead of (or in addition to) on tape. I hope BNY Mellon will take notice.

The Amazon AWS blog has a good overview of the news. Forrester covers it with a focus on data warehousing.

This comes in addition to the existing SaaS offering (“On Demand”) from Oracle and the SaaS platform (for others to provide SaaS on top of Oracle’s software). It is a major milestone for utility computing.

[UPDATED 2008/9/21: This is the home page for the Oracle Cloud Computing Center and this is the FAQ.]

[UPDATED 2008/9/23: More Cloud love, this time with Intel. I have no insight into that partnership.]

[UPDATED 2009/2/10: More on WebLogic Server on EC2, from Erik Bergenholtz.]

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Filed under Amazon, Conference, Everything, IT Systems Mgmt, Linux, Middleware, Oracle, Oracle Open World, SaaS, Trade show, Utility computing, Virtualization

Application management roundtable

The Oracle Enterprise Manager team is inviting customers to an application management roundtable next week in San Francisco. You’ll learn about recent application management acquisitions (Moniforce, ClearApp and e-TEST), product direction and integration strategy. What we’d like to learn in return is your thoughts, needs and requirements for application management. To that end, we’ll need you to RSVP and to prepare a 5-10 minutes presentation about your application management challenges.

Here is the agenda:

  • Introduction
  • Customer Presentations on Application Management
  • Oracle’s Approach to Application Management
    • Real User Monitoring (Moniforce)
    • End2end Performance Monitoring (ClearApp)
    • Application Quality Management (e-TEST)
  • Breakout Sessions
  • Composite & SOA Application Management
    • E-Business Suite Application Management
    • Siebel Application Management
    • BRM Application Management
    • PeopleSoft Application Management

It will take place at the Four Seasons Hotel (757 Market St) from 9:00AM to 1:00PM (but don’t forget to RSVP before showing up).

You don’t have to be registered for Oracle Open World (OOW) to attend, but of course it’s been timed to be convenient for people who come to OOW.

Speaking of OOW, here is a list of all the sessions about Enterprise Manager from the conference agenda search engine. Also packaged as a nicely-formatted and chronologically-ordered PDF. For those interested in the recent application management acquisitions, check out these sessions:

About Moniforce

  • S298518 (Improve Performance of Your Oracle E-Business Suite and Siebel Applications with Oracle’s Real User Experience Insight)
  • S298536 (Go Beyond Web Analytics: Build Business Intelligence with Oracle Real User Experience Insight)
  • S298516 (How Real User Monitoring Can Improve Application Performance: Go Beyond Web Analytics and Systems Monitoring)

About ClearApp

  • S298534 (Application Transaction Management with Oracle Enterprise Manager: The Key to End-to-End Monitoring)

About e-TEST

  • S298707 (Application Testing Best Practices: Real-World Customer Testimonials)
  • S298706 (Optimizing Application Performance: Application Testing Suite to the Rescue)

About Auptyma

  • S298534 (Application Transaction Management with Oracle Enterprise Manager: The Key to End-to-End Monitoring)
  • S298524 (Application Diagnostics for DBAs: Visibility into Your Application That the Middle-Tier Administrator Cannot Provide You)
  • S298525 (Diagnosing Java Application Issues in Production: Gaining Performance Insight That Even Developers Do Not Have )
  • S300236 (Oracle Enterprise Manager Hands-on Lab: SOA Management and Java Application Diagnostics)

Just for fun, check out Chris Muir’s 10 things we probably wont see at OOW08. The scary part is that of these ten unlikely things the least unlikely is item #1…

BTW, I’ll be at OOW next week (probably Wednesday and Thursday) so if you plan to be there and would like to meet let me know.

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Filed under Application Mgmt, Conference, Everything, IT Systems Mgmt, Manageability, Mgmt integration, Middleware, Oracle, Oracle Open World, Trade show

SOA management: round-up of recent news

It started with a checkpoint on “the state of SOA monitoring and management” by Doug McClure. A good set of questions and a good list of “usual suspects” (but how much did Actional pay to be listed twice?).

Then came this good article from AMIS’ Lucas Jellema reporting on what he learned during a recent Oracle SOA Partner event. He pokes fun at Oracle/BEA for conveniently tweaking their “this is what you need” story to align with the “this is what we offer” part (I am shocked, SHOCKED to hear that a vendor would do that, let alone my employer). But the real focus of his article is to describe the importance of design-time SOA governance (integrated with the other parts of the lifecycle). He does a good job at describing some of the value of the consolidated Oracle/BEA offering.

I couldn’t help smiling when I read this paragraph:

“It struck me that most of what applies in terms of Governance to SOA assets, also applies to other assets in any software engineering process. Trying to manage reusable components for example or even implementing a good maintenance approach for a non-SOA application is a tremendous challenge, that has many parallels with SOA Governance. And to some extent could benefit from applying a tooling infrastructure such as provided by the Enterprise Repository… Well, just a thought for now. I need to know more about the ER before jumping to conclusions.”

If my memory serves me right, the original Flashline product that BEA acquired (what became the Enterprise Repository) was just that, a generic metadata repository for software assets, not something SOA-specific. It’s ironic to see Lucas look at it now and think “hey, maybe this SOA repository can be used for non-SOA apps”. Back to the future. And BTW, Lucas is right about this applicability, as Michael Stamback soon confirmed.

Still in Oracle-land, a few days later came the news that Oracle is acquiring ClearApp. Doug’s post was more about runtime governance (which he calls monitoring/management, and I tend to agree with him even though this is fighting the tide) than design-time governance. In that sense, the ClearApp announcement is more relevant to his questions than Lucas’ post. The ClearApp capabilities fit squarely with Doug’s request for “providing the right level of business visibility into the SOA environment and more importantly the e2e business services, applications, transactions, processes and activities”, as I tried to illustrate before.

More recently, Software AG announced an OEM partnership with Actional (part of Progress) to bring runtime data to its CentraSite registry (which, I assume, comes from the Infravio acquisition by WebMethods before it itself was swallowed by Software AG).

Actional’s Dan Foody of course applauds and uses the opportunity to dispel some FUD (“Actional is tightly tied with Sonic”) and also generate some new FUD (“no vendor had even a half decent offering on both sides [design-time and runtime] of the fence”).

Neil Macehiter has a more neutral commentary on the Software AG news. His analysis ends with some questions about what this means for Amberpoint. Maybe it’s time to restart the “Microsoft might acquire Amberpoint” rumor.

Speaking of Microsoft, the drum roll is getting louder in anticipation for Oslo making its debut at the upcoming PDC. That’s a topic for another post though.

This Oslo detour is a little bit off topic, but not so much. The way Don Box and team envision that giant software model shaping up they probably picture what’s called today “SOA Governance” as just a small application that an intern can build in a week on top of the Oslo repository. Or I am exaggerating?

Unlike Dan Foody I like the approach of keeping SOA Governance closely integrated with the development and IT management infrastructures. At the cost of quoting myself (if I don’t, who will?) “it’s not just about managing Web services or Web sites, it’s about managing the whole SOA application”.

[UPDATED 2008/9/23: It looks like the relationship between CentraSite and Infravio is a little bit more complex than I assumed.]

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Filed under Application Mgmt, Everything, Governance, IT Systems Mgmt, Manageability, Mgmt integration, Oracle, Oslo, SOAP

The boss is back

Today is full of news for Oracle Enterprise Manager. I came into the office this morning expecting the ClearApp announcement (I had even prepared a blog entry on it over the weekend). This, on the other hand, came as a (good) surprise!

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Filed under Everything, IT Systems Mgmt, Oracle, People, VMware

Oracle acquires ClearApp for composite application management

Oracle (and more specifically the middleware and applications management part of Oracle Enterprise Manager) has just acquired ClearApp. The company is based in Mountain View (California) and their QuickVision product is a very advanced management tool for composite applications, especially BPEL-based and Portal-based applications.

More information about the acquisition is available from this page and the press release. Information about the QuickVision product can be found on the ClearApp site.

QuickVision is a very complementary addition to our existing products and the acquisitions that we have made over the last year in the application management domain. Let’s take a performance management use case to see how they relate to one another conceptually (this is not an integration roadmap, just a comparison of the features of the existing products): Oracle Real User Experience Insight (from the Moniforce acquisition) will tell you that your users are seeing a performance degradation for a specific function of your Web application. If this is a stand-alone Java application, you can go straight into the Enterprise Manager App Server Diagnostic Pack to start from a URL and analyze where processing time is spent (servlet, JSP, EJB, JDBC…). AD4J (from the Auptyma acquisition) provides deep insight into the JVM. It will give you the line number and call stack of the slow methods. For example, it might lead you to a specific database call that is taking a long time to return. You can then follow the trail deep into the database using the Oracle Database Diagnostic and Tuning packs.

But if your application is a composite application (for example one that makes use of a BPEL process to orchestrate services deployed on different application servers), then you would have a hard time finding which application server to focus on. The QuickVision product fills that gap, taking a BPEL process from its invocation point into all its successive steps and into the code that the different steps invoke. So you can see if the problem is within the BPEL execution (e.g. you loop too many times) or inside an invoked Web service. In that case, QuickVision will lead you to the class that implements that service, at which point you have all the context that you need to fire off AD4J and do a fine-grained analysis of the problematic Java code as described above.

In this scenario (and assuming that the root cause is the slowness of a database query executed by a web services that has been invoked through a BPEL process), the chain of management capabilities goes something like this:

User Experience Insight
    -> QuickVision
        -> App Server Diagnostic Pack
            -> Database management packs

A variation on this would be if the service monitored was a SOAP service as opposed to a Web page. Oracle Web Services Manager could then be used as an alternative to Real User Experience Insight to alert you that something was amiss with the application performance. The rest of the flow would be the same.

At the end, it’s not just about managing Web services or Web sites, it’s about managing the whole SOA application.

Of course, QuickVision is not limited to performance analysis, even though that’s my favorite feature. For example, I could have picked a dependency analysis scenario.

To my new colleagues joining us from ClearApp, welcome!

[UPDATED 2008/9/9: InfoQ coverage of the acquisition by Dilip Krishnan.]


Filed under Application Mgmt, BPEL, Business Process, Everything, IT Systems Mgmt, Manageability, Mashup, Mgmt integration, Modeling, Oracle

ITIL certification for Oracle IT Service Management Suite (Pink Elephant)

The Oracle IT Service Management Suite (meaning the combination of Oracle Enterprise Manager and Siebel Service Desk) has earned a V2 certification for ITIL from Pink Elephant. More specifically, the Suite covers six of the seven processes: Incident, Problem, Change, Configuration, Release and SLM.

Here is the “Pink Verified” list.

[UPDATED 2008/9/9: Here is the corresponding press release.]

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Filed under Everything, IT Systems Mgmt, ITIL, Oracle

Oracle VM template for Grid Control

Oracle recently released a set of VM templates (aka images) for OVM (Oracle Virtual Machine). In addition to being interesting news for OVM users, it’s also potentially useful for EM (Enterprise Manager) users: one of the images contains a full install of Enterprise Manager Grid Control. It is a patched Grid Control installation and associated DB repository pre-configured. This is running on Oracle Enterprise Linux. It also has a local Oracle Enterprise Linux 4 and 5 Yum repository for Grid Control usage.

You can get the files through the Linux side of (select “Oracle VM templates” as the “product pack”).

More templates are available here. You can now impress your friends and family with a full Oracle demo/development environment and they won’t need to know that you didn’t have to install or configure any application.

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Filed under Everything, IT Systems Mgmt, Linux, Oracle, OVM

Forrester report on Oracle’s Enterprise Manager

Forrester’s Jean-Pierre Garbani wrote a short report last month about the current offering and future plans of Oracle’s IT management group (where I work).

As the report points out, Oracle’s IT management products don’t always enjoy a level of industry attention commensurate with the value they deliver. This report will hopefully help fix this.

Forrester: “Oracle Focuses On Business Value”.

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Filed under Application Mgmt, BSM, Everything, IT Systems Mgmt, Oracle

Oracle/BEA Middleware go-forward plan

The landscape for the post-BEA-acquisition Oracle Fusion Middleware portfolio has been publicly released. You can read a list of all the components. Tracing the history of each back to Oracle-internal developments or acquired companies is left as an exercise for the reader. There are plenty of hints, starting with some of the product names (WebLogic, Tuxedo…). The components with more generic names (SOA Suite, SOA Governance) require a little bit more digging. While the filiation might be of interest to people as a way to map the go-forward plan to current products, in the long term it doesn’t matter as much as the overall quality, consistency and integration. Which is what the stack is optimized for.

The announcement also contains enough podcasts to keep the whole family entertained during the long drive to your campground of choice over the July 4 weekend. If the kids complain, tell them it’s that or Prairie Home Companion and they’ll surrender.

[UPDATED 2008/7/15: The folks at MWD just published their analysis of the go-forward plan (free sign-up required).]

[UPDATE 2008/8/1: A nice bullet-list summary by Ashutossh Pewekar.]

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Filed under Everything, Middleware, Oracle

Oracle is now a leading vendor of application testing tools

The e-TEST suite (previously from Empirix) has turned into a set of Oracle products for application testing (sorry, application quality management). Ever since the announcement of the deal, a couple of months ago, Oracle sales reps have received many unsolicited requests for that product, validating its good reputation in the market. If you have spent any time around sales reps, you know that for them to tell their customers that for the time being they should purchase from Empirix was about as pleasant as for Hillary Clinton to endorse Barack Obama. Fortunately, this awkward period is over. Not only can people buy the products from Oracle, all the technical support (even for people who bought from Empirix) is now provided by Oracle.

I probably don’t need to say it (since the products were created by an independent company) but just to be clear nothing in these products require the target Web applications to use Oracle infrastructure (e.g. DB, Middleware) or to be otherwise managed by Oracle Enterprise Manager. They will work happily with your Ruby-on-Rails application hosted on RedHat or your .NET Web application.

And it’s not just for HTML-driven, user-facing applications: XML-producing web services can also be tested that way.

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Filed under Application Mgmt, Everything, IT Systems Mgmt, Manageability, Oracle, Testing

Various IT management stories

Apparently Coté’s upstairs neighbors were having a party last night and he could not sleep. That’s good for us because as a result he bookmarked a long list IT systems management stories. Several of those picked my interest:


Filed under Application Mgmt, Articles, Everything, HP, IT Systems Mgmt, Manageability, Microsoft, Open source, Oracle

Oracle Enterprise Manager in the news

I missed this good review of Oracle Enterprise Manager (OEM) by eWeek’s Cameron Sturdevant that came out almost two months ago. It is “good” in the sense that it is well researched and well written but it is also “good” in the sense that it is a very positive review. The only drawback listed is the price of some of the features. But you have to evaluate these numbers in comparison to productivity gains of your IT management staff. Or, even more compellingly, in comparison to the cost of business disruption that can result from insufficient management insight into the applications.

I got to this review through this very nice blog post in which my colleague Chung Wu (a director of product management for OEM) describes step by step the key role that OEM plays in effectively managing Oracle technologies and in allowing a smooth and controlled evolution of the deployed portfolio.

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Filed under Application Mgmt, Articles, Everything, IT Systems Mgmt, Manageability, Mgmt integration, Oracle

System Center “Cross Platform Extension”: too many distractions

I was hoping that by the time MMS was over there would be more clarity about the “Cross Platform Extension” to System Center that Microsoft announced there. But most of the comments I have seen have focused on two non-technical aspects: Microsoft is interested in heterogeneous management and Microsoft makes use of open source. That’s also the focus of Coté’s coverage.

So what? Is it still that exciting, in 2008, to learn that Microsoft recognizes that Linux and OSS are major players in enterprise computing? If Steve Ballmer eventually gets hold of Yahoo, do you think his first priority will be to move all the servers to Windows or to build up its search and advertising audience? It’s been now 10 years since the Halloween documents came out. They can be seen as the start of Microsoft’s realization that Linux/OSS are here for good. It is not surprising to see that one of their main authors is now the driving force behind WS-Management, an effort that illustrates the acceptance of heterogeneity and the need to deal with it (on Microsoft’s terms if possible, of course). The WS-Management effort started years ago and it was a clear sign that Microsoft knew it had to tackle heterogeneous management (despite the reassuring talk that “it’s all about making Windows the most manageable platform” to HP and others). Basically, Microsoft is using WS-Management to support heterogeneity without having to do too much work: by creating an industry standard that everyone writes to and that Microsoft uses internally. Heterogeneous management is intrinsic to DSI if DSI is to be anything more than a demo.

But all of this was known before MMS 2008 to anyone who was paying attention. Instead of all this Microsoft/OSS/heterogeneous talk, I am a lot more interested in the technical aspects of the “Cross Platform Extension”.

OpenPegasus has been around for a long time, as a C++ CIMOM with a bunch of associated providers and CIM-XML interoperability over HTTP with CIM clients. I don’t know where WS-Management support was on the OpenPegasus development timeline, but even without Microsoft getting involved it would have eventually happened. And this should have been sufficient for System Center to access the CIMOM (BTW, does System Center not support CIM-XML when WS-Management is not present and if it does then what is different in practice with WS-Management?).

I can see how Microsoft would bring some extra (and much welcome) development resources for the WS-Management implementation (BTW the guys at Intel already have an open-source C implementation of WS-Management) as well as some extra marketing/visibility/distribution. Nice, but not earth-shattering. Do they bring anything else to OpenPegasus?

And what else is in the “Cross Platform Extension” in addition to an OpenPegasus WS-Management-capable CIMOM? Is there any extra modeling capability beyond CIM? Any Microsoft-specific classes? Any discovery/reconciliation capability? How much actual configuration management versus just monitoring? Security? Health models? Desired state management? Or is it just a WS-Management CIMOM? Any pointer to specific information is welcome.

Of course the underlying question is whether others than Microsoft can manage resources that have an OpenPegasus-based System Center management pack on them. The Open Management Consortium guys have talked about an open management agent. Could, against all expectations, Microsoft be the one delivering it?

In the IT management world, there are the big 4 (HP, BMC, CA and IBM), the little 4 (Zenoss, Hyperic, GroundWorks and openQRM) and the mighty 3 (Oracle, Microsoft and EMC). Sorry John, I am reclaiming the use of the “mighty” term: your “mighty 2” (or 2.5) are really still the “little 2” (or 2.5). At least for now.

The interesting thing is that in that industry configuration there are topics on which the little ones and the mighty ones share common interests. For example, the big 4 have a lot more management packs for all kinds of resources, built up over the years. Some standard-based mechanism that partially resets the stage helps the little ones and the mighty ones better compete against the big 4. Even better if it has an attractive (and extensible) implementation ready in the form of an agent. But let’s be clear that it takes more than a CIMOM to make a management pack. You need domains-specific expertise in the form of health models, deployment/configuration scripts and/or descriptors, configuration validation, role management etc. Thus my questions about what else (beyond CIM over WS-Management) Microsoft is bringing to the table. SML and CML are supposed to address this space, but I didn’t hear them mentioned once in the MMS coverage.

[UPDATED on 2008/5/7: Another perspective on Microsoft and open source: Microsoft Ex-Pats Developing Open Source Software Outside of Redmond]

[UPDATED 2008/5/7: I got an answer to the question about System Center support for CIM-XML: it doesn’t have it. So indeed it’s either WS-Management of WMI. If you’re a Linux box, that means it’s WS-Management.]

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Filed under CA, Everything, HP, IBM, IT Systems Mgmt, Manageability, Mgmt integration, Microsoft, Open source, Oracle, SML, Standards, WS-Management, Yahoo

Oracle/BEA, WS-Management and MMS: announcements of the day

A few announcements came out today.

The good news: Oracle’s acquisition of BEA closes. Unobstructed technical work can start.

The conveniently-timed news: WS-Management officially a standard.

Speaking of MMS 2008, any announcement there? Not much so far, as explained by Ian Blyth. If I parse the cross-platform part of the press release correctly, it says that management of non-Windows resources by Operations Manager is based on WS-Management, but WS-Management alone is not enough so Microsoft is providing a development kit for several non-Microsoft operating systems. It will be interesting to see what exactly is produced by these management packs. Can they be called on by management tools other Operations Manager or is the stuff that rides on top of WS-Management too proprietary to allow this? No word on SML/CML.

By the end of the week we may have a clearer picture, including what’s going on with the previously-announced reset on System Center Service Manager. Coté is on the scene and will undoubtedly share his thoughts.

As a side note, the way the MMS main page loads betrays the fact that, in 2008, Microsoft (or more likely its event marketing contractor) is using the same clueless HTML design approach that I first saw in 1995 and recently wrote about. All the text in the center of the MMS home page is contained in one large picture (available here). They didn’t even bother with a “ALT” field, so good luck to blind users. The part that says “Registration Overview Page” was made blue and underlined to suggest that it is a link, but it is just a part of the picture. Which, presumably, was supposed to be turned into a link using an image map. Well, turns out they can’t even get that right.

They tried to use a client-side image map (not available in 1995) but somehow the actual map code is commented out in the HTML source:

<!--<map name=Map>
  <area shape=RECT coords=18,549,210,572 href="registrationoverview.aspx">
  <area shape=RECT coords=17,596,222,634 href="registrationoverview.aspx">

As a result, the single most preeminent link on the home page is dead. And there is no server-side image map mechanism as a backup (which I remember used to be best practice when client support for client-side image maps was spotty).

Looking at the HTML source also reveals that tables are over-used. That’s the kind of HTML I can write, and I don’t mean that as a compliment.

[UPDATED 2008/5/5: As expected/hoped, Coté did share his thoughts on this “cross-platform” move from the MMS floor.]

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Filed under CMDB, DMTF, Everything, IT Systems Mgmt, Linux, Manageability, Microsoft, Oracle, Standards, Trade show

IGF and GIF: it’s not a typo

With the Oracle announcements at the RSA conference this month (things like Oracle Role Manager and this white paper), the Identity Governance Framework (IGF) is back in the news. And since HP publicly released the Governance Interoperability Framework (GIF) earlier this year, there is some potential for confusion between the two (akin to the OSGi/OGSI confusion). I am not an author or even an expert in either, but I know enough about both that I can at least help reduce the confusion.

They are both frameworks, they are both about governance, they both try to enable interoperability, they both define XML formats, they were both privately designed and they are both pushed by their authors (and supporters) towards standardization. To add to the confusion, Oracle is listed as a supporter of HP’s GIF and HP is listed as a supporter of Oracle’s IGF.

And yet they are very different.

GIF is an attempt to address SOA governance, which mostly relates to the lifecycle of services and their artifacts (like WSDL, XSD and policies). So you can track versions, deployment status, ownership, dependencies, etc. HP is making the specification available to all (here but you need to register) and has talked about submission to a standards body but as far as I know this hasn’t happened yet.

IGF is a set of specifications and APIs that pull access policy for identity related information out of the application logic and into well-understood XML declarations. With the goal of better controlling the flow of such information. The keystones are the CARML specification used to describe what identity related information an application needs and its counterpart the AAPML specification, used to describe the rules and constraints that an application puts on usage of the identity-related information it owns. The framework also defines relevant roles and service interfaces. Unlike GIF, which is still controlled by HP, IGF is now under the control of the Liberty Alliance Project. Oracle is just one participant (albeit a leading one).

Could they ever meet?

A Web service managed through a GIF-like SOA governance system could have policies related to accessing identity-related information, as addressed by IGF (and realized through CARML and AAPML elements). GIF doesn’t really care about the content of the policies. Studying the positions of the IGF and GIF specifications relative to WS-Policy would be a good way to concretely understand how they operate at a different level from one another. While there could theoretically be situations in which IGF and GIF are both involved, they do not do the same thing and have no interdependency whatsoever.

[UPDATED 2008/4/18: Phil Hunt (co-author of IGF) has a blog where he often writes about IGF. He also wrote a good overview of IGF and its applicability to governance and SOX-style compliance.]

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Filed under Everything, Governance, Identity theft, Oracle, Security, Specs, Standards

Oracle acquires e-TEST from Empirix

Somewhat lost in the news about Oracle’s recent earning report is the announcement that Oracle just purchased e-TEST suite from Empirix. We are not purchasing the company, just some of their products (they also sell VoIP testing tools, for example, which will stay with Empirix). Most importantly, we are also getting the people who made the product, not just a code dump. They’ll join the Enterprise Manager team (my group). Welcome aboard!

The e-TEST suite is made of three integrated components (I am describing the current e-TEST suite, not necessarily the resulting Oracle offering):

  • e-Manager Enterprise is a process management application for application testing.
  • e-Tester lets you easily create sophisticated tests for functional and regression testing.
  • e-Load is a load and performance testing framework.

(these product names make me feel like I am back in HP’s e-speak team)

This is a mature product suite that will increases the scope and depth of EM’s application testing capabilities. It extends the existing EM recorder/beacon infrastructure. It offers a sophisticated test transaction model (remember VBA?). It offers load testing capabilities. Not to mention the process management capabilities around test cases.

My toddler daughter loves her book about the solar system. She has learned to say “hot!” whenever we look at Mercury. Tonight I’ll have to teach her to say “feeling the heat” instead.

More info here. That is probably also where specific product plans will be released.

If you’ve ever been to an Oracle Open World presentation, you won’t be surprised to see that this post ends with a disclaimer that:

It is intended for information purposes only, and may not be incorporated into any contract. It is not a commitment to deliver any material, code, or functionality and should not be relied upon in making a purchasing decision. The development, release and timing of any features or functionality described for Oracle’s products remains at the sole discretion of Oracle.


Filed under Automation, Everything, IT Systems Mgmt, Oracle, Testing

Oracle semantic technologies resources

I have started to look at the semantic technologies available in Oracle’s portfolio and so far I like what I see. At HP, I had access to top experts on semantic technologies (mostly from HP Labs) but no special product (not counting Jena which is available to everyone). At Oracle, I find both top experts and very robust products. If you too are looking into Oracle’s offering related to semantic technologies, here are a few links to publicly-available resources that I have found useful. This is filtered based on my interests (yours may be different, for example I skip content related to life sciences applications).

The main page (and what should be your starting point on that topic) is the Semantic Technologies Center on OTN. Most of the other resources listed below are only a click or two away from there. The Semantic Technologies Forum is the right place for questions. The Semantic Web page on the Oracle Wiki doesn’t contain much right now but that may change.

For an overview of the semantic technology capabilities and their applicability, start with Semantic Data Integration for the Enterprise (white paper) and Why, When, and How to Use Oracle Database 11g Semantic Technologies (slides). Then look at Enterprise Semantic Web in Practice (slides) for many real-life examples.

When you are ready to take advantage of the Oracle semantic technologies capabilities, start with The Semantic Web for Application Developers (slides) followed by RDF Support in Oracle RDBMS (these are more detailed slides but they seem based on 10gR2 rather than 11g so not as complete, no OWL for example). Then grab a thermos of coffee and lock yourself in the basement for a while with the Oracle Database Semantic Technologies Developer’s Guide (also available as a hundred-page PDF).

At that point, you may chose to look into the design choices (with performance analysis) that where made in the Oracle implementation by reading A Scalable RDBMS-Based Inference Engine for RDFS/OWL. There is also a Wiki page on OWLPrime to describe the subset of OWL supported in 11g. Finally, you can turn to the Inference Best Practices with RDFS/OWL white paper for tuning tips on 11g.

To get the actual bits, you can download the Oracle 11g Database on OTN. The semantic technologies support is in the Spatial option for the database, which is included in the base download.

I will keep updating this page as interesting new resouces are created (or as I discover existing ones). For resources on semantic technologies in general (non Oracle specific) good sources are Dave Beckett’s page, the W3C (list of resources or standardization activities) or the Cover Pages.

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Filed under Everything, Oracle, OWL, RDF, Semantic tech

MicroSAP scarier than Microhoo

Here are the first three thoughts that came to my mind when I heard about Microsoft’s bid to acquire Yahoo (in order, to the extent that I can remember):

  • After XBox this will take their focus further away from enterprise software. Good for Oracle.
  • I wonder how my friends at Yahoo (none of which I know to be great fans of Microsoft’s software) feel about this (on the other hand the stock price rise can’t be too unpleasant for them)
  • Time to get ready to move away from Yahoo Mail

Turns out I should have added an additional piece of good news to the first bullet: after this they won’t be able to afford SAP for a while. This I just realized after reading this New York Times column which argues, in short, that Microsoft should acquire SAP rather than Yahoo.

A few quotes from the article:

  • you’ve probably never heard of BEA“: this obviously doesn’t apply to readers of this blog.
  • it’s not much fun hanging out on the enterprise side of the software business“: ouch. If it’s fun you’re after, try the IT management segment of enterprise software business.
  • to find the best acquisition strategy, ask, ‘What would Larry do?’“: does this come as a bumper sticker?

Of course if Microsoft gets Yahoo and things go really badly, then it could be SAP who acquires Microsoft…

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Filed under Business, Everything, Microsoft, Off-topic, Oracle, SAP, Yahoo