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Oracle Enterprise Manager leverages multiple environments for pharmaceutical giant

McKesson Corp., which runs applications and IT systems installed at large hospitals across North America, is using Oracle's application management system to keep things in line.

When nurses enter rooms to administer medication at one of the 355 hospitals across North America served by McKesson Corp., they rely on a device that scans the patient's wristband and chart and the nurse's badge.

That in turn triggers a set of business rules which ensure that the nurse is administering the right medication to the right patient in the right bed. The system relies on software from San Francisco-based McKesson, which in turn relies on Oracle Enterprise Manager (OEM) to ensure that its systems are maintaining service levels and uptime.

"With all of these Linux servers running Java, we have maintenance needs to keep them all running and scaling at the enterprise level," said Andrew Wright, director of product management with the Horizon product line at McKesson. "So we chose OEM to have a centralized view of all of these arrays at all these tiers."

Ranked 18th on the Fortune 500, McKesson distributes pharmaceuticals to hospitals across the country and has applications and IT systems installed on-site within those hospitals under the Horizon Clinicals product line, a hospital health system focused on medication safety.

"We're largely looking at decision support and expert systems across the sickest patients in the hospital," Wright said. "Our market requirement is that we must be up 24/7. We have a significant need for scale-up over time as these hospitals acquire products from our portfolio and run those in our open source arrays."

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With the OEM, McKesson monitors its application environment, measuring the user experience and identifying problems; automatically provisions new servers to deal with an influx of performance issues -- ultimately decommissioning those servers when they're no longer needed; maximizes its uptime with grid computing; and manages changing and disparate environments from one system.

It's delivered a host of benefits to the company.

"The biggest one is in managing the variability of our customer base," Wright said. "OEM is extremely good at acquiring significantly detailed views of all things software and hardware."

Additionally, the upgrade process has become a whole lot smoother.

"Before, we were doing upgrades and repairs in front of the customer -- which you can imagine doesn't go well," Wright said.

McKesson purchased the system a year ago and has been running it for about the last six months. It has established a "gold standard" for configurations and is measuring each customer's configuration versus that standard. That's a practice anyone running an application management system should follow, Wright advised.

"Stomp out variance. You want to get a good baseline of what you believe is your gold standard and treat that asset as a solid baseline," he said. "It makes software support and maintenance very predictable. Drive your customers toward a more stable and uniform deployment because it will overall save time and money for both the vendor and the customer."

Last month, Oracle released six new system monitoring plug-ins for OEM. Plug-ins for Microsoft Exchange, EMC, CLARiiON CX, VMware ESX, Sybase ASE, and Apache Tomcat are available for download on the Oracle Technology Network. Enhancements to existing System Monitoring Plug-Ins are also now available for IBM DB2, Microsoft SQL Server, Juniper Network's Netscreen Firewall, and Check Point Firewall.

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