The DBA Becomes The Sys Admin?

JamesOracle, this week at LinuxWorld in San Francisco, announced an enhancement to its Oracle Enterprise Manager that gives DBAs and application administrators full ability to manipulate and manage the Linux operating system. While not a breakthrough by any means, it does allow these administrators to move down the stack into the realm of theLw_blue_logo_3 server admin. Its most common use will be in test and dev environments, where server administrators would rather not spend their time, but doesn't preclude these admins from managing the OS in production, something that rattles most server administrators.

But there's logic here that is worth following. It is becoming increasingly important to tune the application stack to meet business objectives in both performance and availability and these tunings aren't just in the app and the middleware stack. Boosts can come from enabling, patching, and defeaturing Linux. The challenge comes in that not all applications benefit from the same tunings.

Server administrators want a consistent OS image across as much of the data center as possible to simplify problem resolution, ensure security, and reliability and ease management. It increases their pain for each application to have a different OS load.

These conflicting objectives are increasingly causing friction between the server admin and the application manager. Oracle's announcement elevates the issue. Sure, DBAs and app admins could always drop down to the CLI or grab a copy of the Red Hat admin tool and do this, but these functions haven't been oriented to the app administrator. And the Oracle Enterprise Manager's UI looks like Chinese to the typical server admin.

At issue is who should control the OS. Increasingly availability services are moving out of the OS and into either middleware or the application — the realm of the app administrator. Security responsibility today belongs to the server administrator — does security trump availability?

It behooves both sides to educate one another so they can work together and not against each other. Tools like this can fuel division or unite. You choose.

By James Staten

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