REVIEWER: Sam Massad, manager of technical services, open systems, for ADP Canada.

BACKGROUND: ADP Canada is the leading provider of employer services in Canada, paying one in every five Canadians in the private sector. The company, with more than 1,600 associates, provides a comprehensive range of payroll, human resources management systems, and time and labor management solutions.

PLATFORMS: IBM RS/6000 Servers running Oracle Financials ERP applications.

PROBLEM SOLVED: ADP's Oracle Financials IT infrastructure is one of the largest in the world and critical to our business. We must be confident that it will perform reliably, without any slowdowns that can impact our timely provision of services, such as payroll, to our many clients. Before we implemented Precise i3, we did not use any other products to manage the performance of our Oracle Financials infrastructure. Without any application performance management solution, we found that some critical programs were taking longer than was acceptable to process. We rely heavily on Precise i3 to monitor, detect and solve application performance problems across the Oracle Financials IT infrastructure before end users ­ and ultimately our clients ­ are impacted. With Precise i3, it takes significantly less time to identify and fix bottlenecks in the system.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Precise i3 is a comprehensive suite of application performance management monitoring and tuning solutions. The individual products, working in concert, provide an intuitive methodology for optimizing performance. By continuously monitoring and analyzing all vital components across a heterogeneous application infrastructure, Precise i3 proactively detects the root causes of performance degradation and helps to correct them before they affect response times. Precise i3 identifies trends and deviations from the norm, communicating key performance indicators to drive accurate business decisions, while delivering the right balance of performance optimization and strategic business planning.

STRENGTHS: We find Precise i3 excellent for efficiently and effectively tuning our dynamic, extremely high- volume Oracle Financials environment. Precise i3 samples our database at sub-second rates, capturing detailed information on the enormous number of transactions that our system generates, without placing any overhead on the system. Precise i3 then quickly identifies which user or program executed them, tracking problematic SQL statements to their origins. For instance, with Precise i3 we were able to tune a critical program that previously took six hours to process so that it now takes just 15 minutes. Furthermore, Precise i3's Performance Warehouse, which collects and stores long-term historical information from all system components, allows us to analyze trends and plan system capacity for both short and longer-term growth. By showing us that some long-term problems were due to I/O waits and not hardware capability, Precise i3 has saved us from purchasing new hardware. Thanks to Precise i3, our DBAs' productivity has greatly increased because it takes us significantly less time to identify and fix bottlenecks in our system.

WEAKNESSES: We would like to see the documentation made more understandable. Also, having an Oracle DBA on staff helps us make maximum use of the full capabilities of Precise i3.

SELECTION CRITERIA: In addition to Precise i3 having an excellent reputation for Oracle performance management, Precise's sampling technology was a critical factor in our choice. Precise i3 was the only solution that did not add overhead to our extremely high-volume database environment, which enables the product to sample thousands of transactions each second without impeding performance. We were also impressed with the Precise Performance Warehouse which collects and stores long- term historical information from all system components throughout the application life cycle.

DELIVERABLES: The Precise i3 solution delivers comprehensive, end-to-end application performance data and analysis, identifying the root causes of performance degradation. In addition, we subscribe to Precise's Alliance Program, which provides a nonintrusive remote tuning service, implemented by Precise's Professional Services division. The program also delivers weekly and monthly reports on performance, giving us an alternative source to confirm our own measurements. This helps us know that we are using our resources efficiently and that we have the right picture of the system.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Vendor support is excellent. Precise's consultants are highly professional and knowledgeable, and the information they provide is extremely useful.

DOCUMENTATION: Documentation is provided, but could be made easier to understand.

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