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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!

March 19, 2014

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The Fourth Key to Oracle Forms Performance: Use Performance Analytics

(Part Four of a Five-Part Blog Series)

In our last post we explored how quickly “as-implemented” can diverge from “as-designed,” and what this can mean when it comes to troubleshooting Oracle Forms performance issues. Today we’ll talk about how performance analytics can optimize bottlenecks and manage rollouts and migrations without creating problems somewhere else in the system or for the end users — the kinds of interaction problems we discussed previously.

Advanced analytics is often described as a technique for understanding data through a combination of both descriptive and predictive statistics. In fact, it’s often used interchangeably with the term “predictive analytics” because of the power it has to reveal trends and potential problems before they become visible to the proverbial unaided eye. We’ll talk more about predictive analytics in a few moments.

Oracle Forms

Advanced analytics has advanced to the point where colleges like North Carolina State University are offering degrees in the subject. While it is certainly complex enough to warrant post-graduate study, there are some fundamental concepts of advanced analytics that we can discuss here.

The first concept is often called “Big Data” and involves the collection, storage and processing of massive data sets. In the networking world where we live, the best way to evoke the Big Data concept is to think about trying to keep track of the “Internet of Everything” the rapidly-approaching world when nearly everything has an IP address. IPv6 came about because of the rapidly depleted pool of available IP addresses, and it can accommodate as many as 3.4×10^38 addresses — 340 undecillion devices if you’re looking for the right word for a number that big. And that number (or even a tiny fraction of it) is just one of several dimensions that you need to track, store and process. The others include time, traffic data, etc. Got the picture yet? That’s Big Data.

The second concept is simulation. Once you have enough data points to effectively recreate a time-ordered series of events, you can attempt to simulate what happened in the past — to essentially re-create an incident. Simulation, especially when effectively visualized, can be an extremely powerful tool for anyone tasked with answering “what went wrong.” But it’s of little help in answering “what could go wrong” without some assistance from the last two concepts we need to discuss here.

Our third concept is predictive analytics. Predictive analytics allows us to extend our simulations into the future to answer “what if” questions. But, as we explored in an earlier post, it can be very difficult to know what the right questions are. You need a framework for identifying (and assigning some probability to) the most likely alternative scenarios. That requires our final concept.

The final concept is optimization, a complex mathematical process that, to quote Wikipedia, “consists of maximizing or minimizing a real function by systematically choosing input values from within an allowed set and computing the value of the function.”

Put these four concepts together and you get a sense of the real power of advanced analytics. Without advanced analytics, it is extremely difficult to isolate problems, and even more difficult to prevent them from happening at all. With advanced analytics you can see how changes affect your system and users before upgrades and migrations, and view the impact afterwards as well. In this way, you can optimize bottlenecks and manage rollouts and migrations without creating problems somewhere else in the system or for the end users. Preempting problems can be infinitely more effective than solving them after the fact.

So how do you harness advanced analytics in Oracle Forms troubleshooting? You can buy your own Big Data appliance, hire an analyst and train them on Oracle Forms, or look for an application performance management (APM) solution that can tackle these Big Data challenges–however small your network may be.

In our next and last post, we’ll tackle the monitoring and alerting you’ll need to have in place when your best laid plans and preparation inevitably fall short of reality.

(Get all five blog posts all at once: Download our white paper describing all five keys to Oracle Forms performance success)

March 17, 2014

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The Third Key to Oracle Forms Performance: Understanding How It All Comes Together

Our last post focused on user experience, and how important it is to know the right questions to ask when performance issues hit. This is no easy task, as the user experience is impacted by so many factors, from storage speed to database query efficiency to network issues, just to name a few.

In this post, we’re going to focus on how all those factors work together, and how quickly “as-implemented” can diverge from “as-designed.”

Nobody sets out to have a slow enterprise application. Sometimes the delta between vision and reality slowly grows. But sometimes they never met in the first place. For example, it’s pretty common to find test and pre-production systems in use in production environments — running undetected and sapping resources from the production servers. Nobody plans to have resources being sapped by ghost processes, but it happens!

And that’s a simple example of the kind of interference that can plague Oracle Forms implementations from the very start. Often, there are many possible factors to a problem, and unlacing the complex knot of interactions can be a difficult but necessary step. What portion of the performance degradation that you’re witnessing is due to, say, network issues versus database-specific problems? Saying that it’s both goes against the fundamental principles of root cause analysis. One of these two factors is likely the primary cause; fix it and the other problem may well disappear.

Oracle Forms

In fact, for any given Oracle Forms performance issue, at least seven subsystems are potentially involved. At one end, the client web browser may be at fault. At the other end, the database itself. In the middle, the web and application servers. Or, none of these could be the problem, and the systems connecting the database to the application server, the application server to the web server, and the web server to the client could be the issue.

One very successful tactic to isolate the root cause of a performance issue is to find out what changed by creating a timeline of events leading up to the performance issue. For diagnostic purposes, this timeline is often short — a week or two — but the problems can often come from much further back than just a couple of weeks.

As time progresses, the gap between what the theoretical map of the system “as-designed” was supposed to do and what the “as-implemented” system is currently doing increases, and the complicated knot of potential interactions grows. This drift in system knowledge can happen easily, and is typically due to the numerous and frequent changes — both documented and undocumented — that are made to components, systems and servers. As new servers come online, and others go offline, it can be difficult to keep track of all the changes.

In the case of our ghost server processes, and in many other cases, the automatic detection of performance-related processes can show all of your components, how they interact, and which ones are integral in real-time. This can mitigate the need for a lengthy, manual and often fruitless search of the system when something goes wrong.

In our next post, we’ll talk about how performance analytics can optimize bottlenecks and manage rollouts and migrations without creating problems somewhere else in the system or for the end users.

(Get all five blog posts all at once: Download our white paper describing all five keys to Oracle Forms performance success)

March 12, 2014

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The Second Key to Oracle Forms Performance: Manage the User Experience with Meaningful Transaction Names

(Part Two of a Five-Part Blog Series)

Enterprise APM involves monitoring applications across multiple technology stacks. In our last post, we talked about how important it was to “field deep” — to understand what’s going on at every hop, layer and stack involved in the performance equation for your Oracle Forms installation. In this post, we’re going to go shallow. We’re going to focus on the end-user experience.

So you have Oracle Forms. It’s working well most of the time, but suddenly, the call comes into your Help Desk: there’s a performance issue. Maybe it’s a form that doesn’t load. Maybe it’s a form that doesn’t finish loading. How does your Help Desk Tier 1 Support Rep handle the trouble ticket? Of course, they start by asking questions — hopefully the right ones. And there are definitely both right and wrong questions!

Oracle Forms

The wrong question to ask is one couched in technical jargon. There’s a big difference between asking, for example, “was the system slow at start-up, querying or loading?” and asking “when you entered the information on page three and hit submit, did you get a blank screen?” But getting to the second question — and understanding the implications of the response to it — is more difficult than it seems.

To ask the first question, you just have to understand the technical details of the system. But answering that first question requires that same depth of understanding — one that most of your Oracle Forms business users (the ones calling in the trouble ticket) don’t have. It’s unrealistic to expect the average end user to be able to respond accurately to that question.

So you need to get to that second question. To get there, you have to understand the end-user experience at the business level. You can guess at the right question, or you can refer to your Application Performance Management (APM) system for some insights. But are those insights technical in nature, or business-oriented? If your APM system delivers information in business language rather than in codes or high tech language, then IT staff knows what and how to ask users.

This means having transaction-level insights — including the name of the Forms window, the action performed, and item label used by the end user — at the fingertips of your support staff. Having all of this information in front of the support tech, along with the response time information, will improve the communication with users who are experiencing problems.

IT requires specific answers that actually aid the repair or upgrade process.  To get to those specific answers, you need to ask the right questions — ones that the user can understand and answer accurately. How well does your APM system fare in helping your team ask the right questions and quickly address problems? How many support staff members do you have to involve in order to get your answers? I encourage you to ask yourself the right questions, not just your end users!

In our next post, we’ll talk about “application drift” — how far away from reality is your most current mental map of your system?

(Get all five blog posts all at once: Download our white paper describing all five keys to Oracle Forms performance success)

March 11, 2014

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Oracle Forms – Five Pillars of Performance

Join experts from Correlsense and AuraPlayer as they help you take charge of your Forms Strategy.

At Oracle Forms – Five Pillars of Performance you will learn how to:

– Maximize both actual and perceived performance
– Identify bottlenecks
– Optimize Server resource requirements
– Minimize network round trips
– Quickly identify and resolve performance issues

Reserve your seat. Space is limited.

March 10, 2014

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The First Key to Oracle Forms Performance: Track All Requests Through Every Hop

(First in a Five-Part Blog Series)

Enterprise APM involves many programming languages, databases, infrastructure components, and applications. Add multiple end-points to that – browsers, rich clients, and terminals – and performance management can be an issue. For commercial applications like Oracle Forms and eBusiness Suite, the technology stack may be more manageable but optimizing performance is still a challenge.

One of the first tools that network administrators learn is often the traceroute. Hop-by-hop, it analyzes latencies and is a quick — if primitive — way to identify trouble spots in your network. It worked pretty well in the old days, when all of the resources I was trying to access were in the same place.

In today’s distributed networking environment, troubleshooting performance issues requires a lot more than a couple traceroutes — even if all the required resources are sitting on the “same” computer, thanks to the magic of virtualization. Application performance management (APM) tools have arisen in response to the increasing complexity of our network infrastructure. But even APM solutions have a tough time with many of today’s applications. Oracle Forms is one of those environments that most APM systems struggle with.

Oracle Forms’ multi-tiered architecture, combined with today’s modern network infrastructure, presents multiple challenges to anyone tasked with optimizing and troubleshooting its performance. In this series of blog posts, we’ll investigate the five keys to performance success in Oracle Forms.

Oracle Forms

Today, we start with the importance of tracking all requests through every hop. This is something we first learned with the traceroute, but which quickly got terribly complicated as middleware, distributed architectures and virtualization took hold, and as applications evolved beyond the bounds of a single server and the good old client-server days.

There are often many servers for each tier in a typical Oracle Forms implementation. Changes are frequent, fields are numerous, and upgrades and system tweaks happen often. In an ideal world, IT help desk staff can track a single session from the client through the web server, the app server, and back to the database. Successful performance monitoring and management requires the ability to track activity through all of these tiers and servers.

In the world of Oracle Forms, you also need to make sure you don’t limit yourself to Java and .Net. If you want a complete picture, you have to be able to track and meter single end-user activity across the entire stack and all technologies, including Apache, OC4J, Forms Runtime, and Oracle Database. While point monitoring and troubleshooting solutions might be able to diagnose some basic problems, even a patchwork collective of them won’t be able to perform true root cause analysis for most performance issues that face modern enterprises.

In our next post, we’ll take a look at the importance of the user experience, and the frustrations that face both the user who dares to report performance issues and the help desk support representative tasked with solving the user’s problems.

(Get all five blog posts all at once: Download our white paper describing all five keys to Oracle Forms performance success)

February 26, 2014

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ORIAC Solutions and Correlsense Accelerate European Insurance Applications

Partnership Helps Keep the 24×7 Insurance Company at Peak Performance  

London, UK and Framingham, Mass. – February 26, 2014 – Correlsense and ORIAC Solutions Ltd today announced a partnership to help improve the performance of insurance applications throughout Europe. ORIAC is one of the UK’s leading specialists in this area, deploying applications in General (Automobile and Household), Travel, Commercial, Creditor, Agricultural, and Life insurance. ORIAC will use Correlsense’s SharePath software to monitor these applications, ensure that they perform effectively, and meet the terms of customer service level agreements (SLAs).

ORIAC is a specialist in implementing, migrating, and evolving insurance applications built using TIA Technology, a leading provider of standard insurance software solutions for the global property/casualty and life insurance industry. Software of this kind can be complex, involving many process flows executing on multiple servers, browsers, rich clients, and mobile devices.  SharePath monitors all user transactions as they navigate across these networks, technology stacks, and endpoints.

One of the major challenges in the insurance industry is upgrading software to meet the ongoing demands of customer expectations, new technology, and government oversight. ORIAC’s expertise in insurance software combined with SharePath’s ability to monitor a wide variety of technologies ensures that new systems always execute as fast or faster than previous versions.

“The insurance industry is a key global vertical for us,” said John Reuben, VP of EMEA Sales at Correlsense. “We are happy to broaden our footprint in TIA-based applications with a leading technology expert like ORIAC.”

“As UK insurers continue to move towards full 24×7 operation the need to ensure optimal system performance will become essential,” said Kevin Wallis-Eade, Director of ORIAC. “We are delighted to form a partnership with Correlsense to help bring the benefits of SharePath to the UK insurance industry.”

About ORIAC Solutions
Founded in 2006, ORIAC Solutions Ltd is the UK’s leading TIA Specialist, recognised throughout the worldwide TIA Community as a primary source of expertise for TIA projects. ORIAC also has partnerships with Salesforce.com, Docusign, Oracle, and Assurator. Visit us at www.oriacsolutions.com.

About Correlsense
Correlsense is the leading enterprise APM company, delivering customer value by ensuring that all business-critical applications perform effectively. It is the APM product of choice for business and IT operations managers who rely on sophisticated enterprise applications. Correlsense paints a complete picture of IT service levels and performance for applications that span mobile, SaaS, data centers, and the Cloud. SharePath customers include some of the world’s largest financial, telecom, gaming, and healthcare firms. For more information, visit www.correlsense.com.

Editorial Contacts
Kevin Wallis-Eade
ORIAC Solutions Ltd
kwalliseade@oriacsolutions.com
Phone +44 (0) 20 7469 4034

Bill Blundon
Correlsense
williamb@correlsense.com
Phone +1 508-318-6488 x211

October 31, 2012

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Essential Strategies for Oracle Forms 11 Modernization and Performance Management

What are the best practices for migrating your legacy Forms environment to 11? How will you meet end user performance expectations? How will you ensure application performance before, during and after modernization?

See below for a recording of an online seminar and slide deck from PITSS and Correlsense where we will illustrate how to reduce cost and risk while accelerating Oracle Forms modernization efforts. We discuss:

  • Benefits of upgrading to Forms 11 and how to migrate successfully
  • Strategies for modernizing and integrating SOA, middleware and other infrastructure
  • Best practices for monitoring your Forms end user experience

View the recording or presentation slides below.

Recording:

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.

September 14, 2012

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News of the Week in Application Performance Management and IT Operations – September 14

This week’s feature articles includes contributions from Larry Dragich of APMDigest, Cameron Laird of Real User Monitoring, Jim Rapoza of the Aberdeen Group, and more. Without further adieu, here are our highlights from the world of APM and IT operations:

1) Larry Dragich discussed real-time monitoring metrics on APMDigest:
http://www.apmdigest.com/real-time-monitoring-metrics-the-magical-mundane

2) Cameron Laird of Real User Monitoring shared tips for scripting Oracle Forms WebLogic:
http://www.real-user-monitoring.com/scripting-oracle-weblogic-and-other-resources-another-level-of-refactoring/

3) Jim Rapoza of Aberdeen Group released his latest report, “Overcoming Application Performance Walls.” which examined organizations who have successfully centralized performance management operations:
http://www.marketwatch.com/story/aberdeen-publishes-it-security-retailconsumer-networkingapplication-performance-scm-research-2012-09-13

4) Website Monitoring News reviewed MySQL performance, mobile app integration, and performance metrics in their weekly tips:
http://www.website-monitoring.eu/2012/09/12/this-week-in-website-performance-10/

5) Tech Republic contributor Toni Bowers examined how IT pros must step up to solve Big Data challenges:
http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/big-data-analytics/bi-still-dependent-on-it/106

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