REVIEWER: Rick L. Velasquez, corporate database administrator for Flying J.
BACKGROUND: Flying J is a national chain of full service travel plazas, which provide highway hospitality and service along the nation's interstate highway system. Flying J is engaged in all facets of hospitality and other highway-related products and services, in addition to the exploration, production, refining, distribution and marketing of petroleum products. The company is ranked 45 among Forbes' 500 Largest Privately Held Companies in America and employs more than 11,500 people nationwide.
PLATFORMS: On the database side, Space Expert for Oracle is being used on our HP 9000 servers running HP-UX 11.
PROBLEM SOLVED: In our production environment, we recognized that we weren't optimizing the amount of storage space in our databases; so we set out to find a product capable of quickly and easily identifying objects within the database that would benefit from space management and/or reorganization. The product had to be able to integrate into a total end-to-end solution because it is the base for other modules to be used. Additionally, the vendor had to have the ability to show us how it planned to implement the solution prior to actually doing so, in order to give us a better understanding of what needed to be done. For our production environment, it was also imperative that the product be able to interact with the database with minimal impact on performance. We needed something that would be able to get in, collect the data and get out without being noticed. Basically, it had to be invisible.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: BMC's Space Expert for Oracle is a comprehensive database management tool that enables Flying J to simplify reorganization tasks associated with Oracle database storage problems. Highlights of the product include: integrated tablespace maps, multiprocessing and full checkpoint-based recovery features, built in flexibility, and ability to diagnose and correct or reduce row migration problems.
STRENGTHS: One advantage we've seen is that Space Expert's client is browser based and runs on Windows 2000 and XP. Another benefit is that we can use either Internet Explorer or Netscape to access the application server we run on Windows NT. Using Space Expert's "Find Storage Problems" feature, we found that Space Expert for Oracle has the capacity to identify problems for tables, table spaces and indexes. The tool also has a unique ability to diagnose, correct or reduce migrated or chained rows and fragmentation problems depending on the object. This simplifies the reorganization process and significantly reduces the amount of time and effort devoted to a given problem, allowing us to focus on more strategic IT-related issues.
WEAKNESSES: Ideally, I would like Space Expert for Oracle to be a little more intuitive. The answers to my questions are all there in the help; I just have to know where to find them. However, the support people are able to quickly help me locate the answers. It's not that the help function does not exist; it's just not as instinctive and user friendly as it could be. Overall, the help is a satisfactory tool but could benefit from some revisions.
SELECTION CRITERIA: In our search for a solution, we looked at several different vendors before choosing BMC Software. However, we were not quite sure how long the other vendors would be around or how well their products would be supported. BMC, on the other hand, has been in the market since 1980 and has a solid reputation when it comes to data management. After careful consideration, we purchased Space Expert for Oracle not only because of the company's proven track record in data management, but because of the product's online reorganization capabilities and its compatibility with Oracle9i.
DELIVERABLES: The "Find Storage Problems" feature gives a graphical assessment of what's going on, giving all the data needed to make a decision in a readable format. Space Expert for Oracle also provides recommendations as to what actions should be taken and a confidence level associated with those recommendations.
VENDOR SUPPORT: One of the biggest advantages has been the support team's response time. It is almost as if they have a crystal ball because they will call periodically just to inquire about how things are going with the product. In more than one instance, we were able to instantly address and alleviate problems over the phone, which saved me time by cutting out the step of me calling them.
DOCUMENTATION:I could run the product on the documentation provided if I really needed to and had a lot of time, but this area could use some improvement.
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