OEM 12c R3 release good for Oracle customers; others not as much

Oracle Enterprise Manager (OEM) 12c R3 continues to be a tool focused on Oracle products. That's good for Oracle customers, but limits OEM's reach.

Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c R3 has new features geared toward managing Oracle software and hardware, and it works well for Oracle customers, according to analysts and users. But when it comes to managing heterogeneous environments, the IT tool has plenty of competition.

The new release, announced this week, includes several new and enhanced capabilities, such as support for managing multi-rack Exadata, which is several Oracle Exadata machines connected together. Sushil Kumar, Oracle vice president of product strategy and business development, said OEM 12c R3 has streamlined and improved accounting functions for metering and chargeback. It also has a new feature called Change Activity Planner, which can orchestrate broad data center changes, such as patching large environments, upgrading many database instances at the same time, and rolling out rules around compliance.

"OEM represents a very good solution for the Oracle stack and is less well-suited to non-Oracle solutions," said Roy Illsley, principal analyst at U.K.-based IT research firm Ovum. "I would say that for Oracle customers, OEM is an important and critical tool for ensuring that maximum value is derived from the software, middleware and hardware they have purchased. For non-Oracle customers, it still provides a viable management tool, but has more competitors."

Those competitors include the market share leaders in system management software like IBM, BMC, HP, CA and Microsoft, according to IDC, a Framingham, Mass.-based IT analyst firm. Tim Grieser, IDC's program vice president of enterprise system management software, echoed Illsley's sentiment in a report he wrote in November.

"Given the very wide array of Oracle Enterprise Manager functions, users will need time to gain experience with the 12c capabilities and to understand whether they are sufficient to manage across their environments or whether supplemental capabilities are needed, such as best-of-breed management solutions or extensions to manage non-Oracle environments," Grieser wrote.

Similarly, Stamford, Conn.-based IT analyst firm Gartner Inc. last year released a Magic Quadrant report on application performance monitoring (APM). Gartner found one of the weaknesses attributed to Oracle was that the "Oracle-centric nature of [its] management products often means that other APM tools must be combined with Oracle solutions to meet other enterprise demands for APM."

OEM 12c R3 top features

Earl Shaffer, senior Oracle database administrator at Long Beach, N.Y.-based payment processing company Planet Payment, said OEM 12c R3 is moving toward being the best product Oracle has ever released, and he includes Real Application Clusters in that conversation.

Shaffer said the most important feature is the new design of a light agent and specific plug-ins for each job, area and object. He explained that the design allows standardization at the API level "while providing flexibility and creativity at the (OEM) level."

"Say you have a new database server with nothing on it at all," he said. "(OEM) can install the OS, patch it, install the database software, patch it, and create a database, listener and agent."

Shaffer, who previously worked as a support engineer at Oracle, added that, "No one knows Oracle better than Oracle, period."

Illsley said his favorite feature is probably the Testing as a Service expansion, which now includes data masking at the source combined with integrated data subsetting, all in an effort to protect real data when needed. He added that one thing Oracle should have done with R3 was have better support for more public cloud platforms, but that "it may be just a matter of timing."

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