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March 24, 2014

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The Fifth Key to Oracle Forms Performance: Keep Your Stakeholders Aware

(Part Five of a Five-Part Blog Series)

In Part Four we discussed how performance analytics can help you both troubleshoot and plan your rollouts and migrations. In this last part, I want to tackle the monitoring and alerting you’ll need to have in place when your best laid plans and preparation inevitably fall short of reality. As always, I’ll focus on Oracle Forms.

Oracle Forms

As we mentioned earlier, auto-detection of potential and actual problems is required to have a true monitoring solution — if there are no bells and lights going off when a process is barreling (or about to barrel) out of control, your monitoring system isn’t worth the storage it’s taking up.

The best monitoring scenario would let IT support staff and Help Desk professionals see historical performance issues, real-time issues and potential future threats. It would provide reliable diagnostics prior to upgrade and migration executions, and it would be able to track a single session from the client through to the web server, the application server and the database.

Good performance monitoring and management tools must be able to track the activity of the client through multiple tiers and servers to be effective. They must provide a sufficient level of context to permit the Help Desk professional to ask the right questions.

There are a number of products available today that monitor Forms applications, but they are point solutions and thus miss much of the activity you need to monitor. If you are unaware of problems until they happen, you can’t prevent them or solve them as quickly.

Furthermore, when problems do happen, stakeholders — whether they’re upstream or downstream — can often feel that the system is unreliable. Depending on the severity of the issue and the difficulties involved in troubleshooting it, the competency of the poor IT or Help Desk staffer could even be called into question.

However unwarranted the accusation might be, ultimately, IT is accountable for the upkeep and performance of your Oracle Forms installation — just as the complaining user is responsible for executing the business functions that they rely on Oracle Forms to perform.

The most effective way to turn these dual accountabilities from an adversarial position to a team effort is to keep stakeholders informed so that everyone affected knows what is happening and why. Being able to provide insights into service levels is crucial, whether via dashboards, email reports or other notification methods.

Well, I hope you found this tour of the Five Fundamental Keys to Oracle Forms Performance useful. We’re offering a full white paper that combines all five of these fundamentals in a single document that explores the topic even further. Visit www.correlsense.com/five-keys-for-performance-management-of-oracle-forms-and-e-business-suite/ to get your own copy.

Good luck out there!

October 16, 2012

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What Does Operations-Centric vs Developer-Centric APM Mean to You?

The pace of change in today’s IT world is truly astonishing. The traditional roles and descriptions between various IT roles have been blurred. In today’s complex IT environments, Development, Application Support, and IT Operations collaborate often to ensure application service levels are met. Operations, traditionally, relied on siloed monitoring tools to figure out how the infrastructure support applications. However, a new and emerging approach called ops-centric APM claims to provide horizontal visibility into transaction’s performance across all the silos that support applications. All the way from the desktop, down to the database and to the application code. In this series of posts, I’ll examine the subtleties of the ops-centric APM approach compared with developer-centric APM, and what it means for IT.

Let’s start with the developer-centric APM approach. These tools use bytecode instrumentation (BCI) technology to gather application performance data.  They instrument application at the method level and provide KPI and notification based on the performance of these methods. This allows them to find problems related to the application code. Many of these tools evolved from code profilers. The language and user-interface used by those tools is generally compelling to developers. Bytecode instrumentation technology is known to have overheads and in production the best practices are to limit the instrumentation to API calls only, and avoid deep method instrumentation.

The main drawback of BCI technology is its limited view of application deployments. BCI technology can only be applied to Java and .Net applications. However, a production enterprise application depends on many other components that are simply out of the radar of BCI technology.  For example, proxy servers, web-servers (e.g. Apache, Sun One, etc.), load-balancers, ESBs, SSO, rich clients, and many other components are not visible when depending on BCI. The bottom line is that developer-centric APM lacks a holistic view of how the entire infrastructure supports applications.

An operations-centric approach to APM is different in terms of requirements. Ops handles numerous applications and don’t have the bandwidth to get familiar with the code of each managed and packaged application. They require a tool that can easily be deployed across the enterprise without depending on Development to help set it up, and with a broader visibility into the entire infrastructure that support the application, beyond the .Net and Java processes. Finally they require an “always on” solution that models, baselines and shows the trends of applications performance across the entire infrastructure.

Consider a production deployment on a packaged application. You will have few Apache web-server in the front-end connected to the organization LDAP and SSO platform. Next tier will be a cluster of java processes behind a load-balancer and at the backend you will probably find a database, web-services, ESBs and a mainframe.

IT Operations are in charge of keeping this running and meeting its SLAs. CPU reading, Network throughout, and other resource consumption metrics are important, but, they don’t tell much about the application performance and the end-user-experience. Dev-centric APM tools are usually hard to implement on a packaged application, and even when they work they only provide visibility to the performance of the Java containers. A failure at the SSO level will not be visible to these tools.

Ops-centric APM promises to provide an “always on” horizontal monitoring solution that tracks each end user request from the desktop down to the database, showing how each silo in the transaction path impact the transaction performance and the end user experience response time. The continuous modeling of the application performance helps to sense changes with the application performance and isolate the root cause across the tiers by comparing the performance model to a baseline period.

The operations-centric approach should be strongly considered by IT shops that need broad base coverage in a complex environment. What capabilities are most important to you or your IT team?

September 21, 2012

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News of the Week in Application Performance Management and IT Operations – September 21

This week’s feature articles includes contributions from Jonah Kowall of Gartner, Cameron Laird of Real User Monitoring, Charlie Betz of EMA and more. Without further adieu, here are our highlights from the world of APM and IT operations:

1) Jonah Kowall of Gartner, mentioned upcoming research on the future of APM:
http://blogs.gartner.com/jonah-kowall/2012/09/20/research-as-a-result-of-inquiry-and-monitoring-trends/

2) Cameron Laird of Real User Monitoring discussed the need to customize your APM for your organization’s needs:
http://www.real-user-monitoring.com/customize-your-apm/

3) Charlie Betz of EMA released new research regarding the current IT management challenges in large organizations:
http://www.enterprisemanagement.com/research/asset.php/2378/From-IT-Financial-Management-to-Technology-Business-Management

4) APMDigest examined which APM analytics matter most in the context of Big Data:
http://www.apmdigest.com/analytics-that-matter-for-apm-generated-big-data

5) Nick Heath of TechRepublic made the case why IT pros must evolve or die:
http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/cio-insights/it-departments-warned-evolve-or-die/39749435

August 31, 2012

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News of the Week in Application Performance Management and IT Operations – August 31

This week’s feature articles include a new surprising new survey on cloud computing ignorance, a new Yelp-like rating system for APM, new challenges for IT pros in cloud based environments and some tips and tricks for Oracle Forms users:

1) Pete Golden of APMDigest discussed a surprising new survey which showed the mass confusion around cloud computing:
http://www.apmdigest.com/most-americans-confused-by-cloud-computing-survey-says

2) Russell Rothstein of IT Central Station announced a new ratings service for the APM market, similar to Yelp:
http://www.apmdigest.com/ratings-to-hit-the-apm-market-are-you-ready

3) Cameron Laird of Real User Monitoring discussed the challenges IT pros will face as enterprises continue to move services into the cloud:
http://www.real-user-monitoring.com/taking-your-career-into-the-cloud/

4) Mahmoud El Sayed shared his latest tips for Oracle Forms users:
http://mahmoudoracle.blogspot.com/2012/08/dbmscomparison-package.html

5) Rich Hein of CIO magazine mentioned 8 key strategies for IT pros to get ahead:
http://www.networkworld.com/news/2012/083012-8-ways-to-advance-your-262072.html?source=nww_rss

August 24, 2012

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News of the Week in Application Performance Management and IT Operations – August 24

This week’s featured articles includes contributions from Pete Golden of APMDigest, Charlie Betz of EMA research, Cameron Laird of Real User Monitoring, and more:

1) Pete Golden of APMDigest discussed the latest Gartner reasearch on SaaS adoption:
http://www.apmdigest.com/gartner-says-organizations-more-likely-to-use-saas-for-sensitive-data-than-mission-critical-data

2) Charlie Betz of EMA research released a new white paper explaining how IT must operate as a “business within a business:”
http://www.enterprisemanagement.com/research/asset.php/2354/IT-as-a-%93Business-Within-a-Business%94:-Vision,-Financial-Processes,-and-Systems

3) Cameron Laird of Real User Monitoring explained the storms of challenges facing APM, including mobile and big data:
http://www.real-user-monitoring.com/storm-of-apm-challenges/

4) Ritu Saxena from Tools Journal published her list of APM solutions which favor cloud environments:
http://www.equities.com/news/headline-story?dt=2012-08-14&val=377917&cat=tech

5) Paul Korzeniowski of TechTarget warned that IT pros must adapt to survive and thrive in the current technological environment:
http://searchdatacenter.techtarget.com/feature/IT-pros-adapt-to-stay-relevant-and-employed-in-IT-jobs-field

June 13, 2012

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New Strategies for Successful Documentum Integrations, Migrations and Performance Management

EMC’s Documentum platform is arguably one of the most complex, highly customized and challenging systems for IT professionals to manage. Gaining visibility into the performance of the various servers across the Documentum environment is challenging but crucial and maintaining performance monitoring thresholds during customization projects is a severe headache.

Furthermore, how do you ensure you are getting the true performance picture inside Documentum’s infrastructure? And how could you possible plan for complex integration and migration projects without it?

See below for a recording of an online seminar and slide deck from Correlsense and Portford Solutions Group which will offer solutions to these key issues. During this session we discuss:

    • Best practices for successful Documentum integration projects
    • Managing migration projects successfully with the right data
    • The best tools to gain visibility across the entire Documentum environment

View the recording or presentation slides below.

Recording:

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Presentation slides:

Thanks for watching.

For more information on Correlsense products, please visit the products section of this site or download our FREE real user monitoring (RUM) tool.

March 27, 2012

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Five Keys for Performance Management of Oracle Forms and E-Business Suite

Today’s APM tools do not provide sufficient capabilities to perform real end user monitoring of Oracle applications. While these tools can track basic performance data, most solutions do not cover the entire Oracle E-Business Suite technology stack and it can be challenging to acquire the in-depth visibility needed to properly manage your application’s performance.

See below for a recording of an online seminar and slide deck where we showcase solutions for application support engineers, application owners, QA engineers, Oracle Forms developers and EBS Integrators. Topics include how to:

  • Isolate problems before end users experience them
  • Gain visibility into the potential source of bottlenecks in Oracle components
  • Reduce the risk and overall time to rollout for new applications, Oracle Forms migrations and EBS upgrades
  • Analyze stress tests to identify, isolate and resolve scalability issues before rolling out to production
  • Monitor your end user experience with both real-time and historical performance metrics

View the recording or presentation slides below.

Recording:

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Presentation slides:

Thanks for watching.

For more information on Correlsense products, please visit the products section of this site or download our FREE real user monitoring (RUM) tool.

February 21, 2012

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Traveling Transaction Modeling

Over the past few years, traveling has become a major part of my life. I travel a lot for business, so I’m on the road a good chunk of the time. One of the most interesting (and daunting) things about getting from point A to point B is planning the route. This is most difficult when I have a meeting in New York City, because there are four possible (and reasonable) ways to get there. I could fly, go by rail, drive or take a bus.

Right away, the bus is a non-starter. It takes too long, the station is far from my home, and to be honest, it’s just not comfortable. Even though it’s the cheapest option, the quality of the seats multiplies by the length of the ride comes out to… well, you know how it is.

Flying should be the best bet. The flight takes only about 30 minutes. But with all the security at the terminal these days, the time it takes to get to the airport and the cost of the NYC taxi to wherever I’m going, it’s too much.

The train is fine, with good scheduling most of the time, and it does get you downtown at no extra cost, but if you want the best cabin, you have to pay for it. It’s expensive and depending on which train you ride, it can take nearly five hours to get to where you’re going.

Driving at least gives you some independence (and great music!), but it’s tiring and with gas prices where they are, it isn’t exactly a bargain. Tack on the cost (both financial and mental) of parking in New York City, and driving suddenly looks like a pretty bad plan.

All of these options have one problem in common – the scheduling is never accurate. You can’t be sure your flight will leave on time. Your bus could break down, you could hit traffic, or your train could be delayed for some reason. You always take the risk that the meeting will start without you, or not start at all.

What if we could track the data on that? Aggregate it based on EVERY ride, 24/7, all year long – how many minutes did we lose because of a flat tire, a mix-up on the runway, or a traffic jam? How buses perform in January, etc. If we had that information, we could filter it down and make the best decision on how to get there. Not just from an average, not just in general, but from real data. Can we have a database that tracks every individual ride, on every option, every day, and then aggregates it into a clear picture?

How often is the train delayed on Sunday? Can I get a comparison between today and last year? How many times has this bus line had to stop for a flat tire in March? Does it happen more in winter or in summer?

Now apply this to an application transaction. One little click of a mouse generates thousands of options, rather than just four. There are network devices, hardware (web tier, DD or – God forbid – a mainframe), you name it. Luckily, we do have a way to monitor them all. And the information we get is based on real data, not on an average.

Now who says that IT shows less progress than the travel industry? For now I’ll take my traveling decision based on 2 dimensions only – Price and Time.

January 26, 2012

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An Introduction to Software Performance Engineering

Software performance engineering is becoming increasingly important to businesses as they look to improve the non-functional performance of applications and get more out of IT investments. By leveraging performance engineering techniques, IT professionals can be indispensable in building and optimizing scalable systems. See below for a recording of an online seminar and slide deck from this introductory course, which will teach you the essentials of software performance engineering including:

  • The performance challenges faced by Enterprise IT today
  • What is software performance engineering (SPE)?
  • Best practices for building scalable software systems
  • The approaches to integrating SPE into IT project lifecycles
  • Common frameworks for measuring application performance and service levels
  • The impact of SPE on software developers, testers, capacity planners and other IT professionals
  • Case studies from the finance, retail and insurance industries

View the recording or presentation slides below.

Recording:

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Presentation slides:

Thanks for watching.

For more information on Correlsense products, please visit the products section of this site or download our FREE real user monitoring (RUM) tool.

January 19, 2012

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Tailoring Performance for Your Customers

Last week, my wife started giving me a hard time about my clothes. I had a trip to Europe coming up, and the official verdict from her was that my suits were simply “not enough”. Figuring I’d better do as I was told, I decided it was time to shop around for a new suit. Hoping to impress my wife, I wound up buying the best of the best.

But it is the trip to the tailor that I want to talk about. I went on a Thursday to have some small alterations made. He looked at me and said my suit would be ready in a week. I was stunned- my flight was in three days and I never expected it would take so long. I tried to bargain with the guy, to get him to push my suit to the front of the line, but I had no luck. The tailor waved his hand around the store and said: “look, I have many more like you and these things take time.”

While he took my measurements, I was really disappointed. I paid and left, wondering how I was going to get another suit in time for my flight. About a minute after I left the store, the tailor called me and said: “it will be ready tomorrow morning.”

It had all been a joke!

That made my day, but it also made me think. This tailor has been in the service business for years. He has had lots of time to develop his approach to service, and leaving his store that day, I felt that I needed to learn something from my experience.

I hate the model of setting low expectations and delivering higher. I prefer to have the expectations and deliverables align so there are no surprises.

And then it occurred to me: Performance.

I tried to remember the last time I was amazed by performance in any way. Have you ever said, “Wow, those IT guys have so many servers to manage, so many troubles, zillions of transactions to run… How do they provide me with a millisecond response time?”

Only once have I had that thought; right after my first ever Google search. I remember being amazed at how fast the results came in, especially since my PC can’t search that fast for a file stored on the hard drive. Since then, I can’t recall any surprises similar to my experience with the tailor.

I think it’s time for us to start surprising our customers again.