DB administration simplification
Oracle-friendlier solution helps with standardization, patching
Clarity’s management server delivers some useful auditing capabilities, enabling an admin to see who has done what. I do wish it would let you monitor changes to the templates themselves, however, so you could tell who made a change if, for example, a deployment gets provisioned incorrectly. Unfortunately, templates are edited outside of the management server, so that’s not possible currently. The management server UI also could use a makeover; it could benefit not only from some layout enhancements but improved graphics and color scheme as well.
Clarity maintains its value after the initial deployment, in that it can easily serve as your main patch deployment and management system. For Oracle, you can approve patches and push them out to servers very easily. I wish the solution could connect to the Oracle site and check for patches automatically. Currently you have to download the patches manually and upload them to Clarity, but once they’re there, you’re golden.
The patch management for SQL Server 2005 works the same way. Moreover, it allows you to see the patch levels of all managed servers, which is difficult to do using Microsoft’s native tools. Unfortunately, it won’t do patch management for SQL Server 2000.
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Better in Oracle
As I said, installation is fairly straightforward — but that’s only if you know Linux. There isn’t a Windows version of the management server. Thus, I’m not sure how well this product will go over in SQL Server shops, in that SQL Server DBAs don’t really know much about Linux, nor do they want to. Expecting them to feel comfortable with a deployment system housed on Linux may be asking too much, not to mention that the patch management works only on SQL Server 2005, and plenty of shops are still mostly SQL Server 2000. Excluding them from such an important functionality may keep them from adopting Clarity going forward.
Another shortcoming: Not only can’t Clarity deploy SQL Server clusters, which would make it really useful, if you want to run reports on your managed environment, you’ll have to install Oracle. I know a lot of SQL Server DBAs who will raise an eyebrow at being forced to install Oracle in their shop.
All in all, Clarity 3.5 steps up nicely for Oracle, greatly enhancing Oracle database and RAC deployment scenarios and patch management. The product’s SQL Server support, meanwhile, is relatively limited. Thus, my scoring in this review is based primarily on the product’s Oracle functionality. Whereas SQL Server shops might look elsewhere for this kind of offering, I really believe that it’ll be indispensable for large Oracle shops.