CATEGORY: Database Performance & Systems Management

REVIEWER: Tom Smith, systems administrator for LifeBridge Health.

BACKGROUND: LifeBridge Health is a regional healthcare organization based in Baltimore, Maryland. As one of the largest, most comprehensive and highly respected providers of health-related services in this region, LifeBridge Health advocates preventive services, wellness, and fitness services and programs to educate and support its communities. With 6,000 employees – including 2,000 staff physicians – it maintains more than 1,000 licensed beds throughout several institutions. LifeBridge Health manages large amounts of information in the form of patient records, medical information and financials through an extensive database and depends upon Unicenter Database Performance Management for Oracle from Computer Associates International, Inc. (CA).

PLATFORMS: Unicenter Database Performance Management v4.4 monitoring Cerner health information management system and Oracle8i running on highly available IBM Regatta p670s, and AIX S70 HACMP clustered nodes and Lawson financial suite and Oracle8i on IBM H70 and P160 nodes.

PROBLEM SOLVED: We not only needed to decrease the time to respond to issues, but also wanted to reduce operational inefficiencies and provide functionality that would alert us or fix a problem before the users even called. Unicenter Database Performance Management frees our time to address more important business activities and has reduced the number of calls our administrators get each day. Because medical information must be accessible to our physicians for patient care 24 hours a day, we needed a solution to verify and resolve problems without affecting business applications. Although a backup paper process exists when the system goes down, it is so cumbersome that users wait until the last possible minute. Thus, resolving performance issues quickly is essential.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Unicenter Database Performance Management performs our database monitoring without the need for human intervention. It identifies critical resource parameters such as database space, I/O or others that are outside normal operating baselines and alerts us. Scans, such as those for CPU utilization, are invaluable for keeping a tab on the health of our applications. The historical data collection enables us to easily obtain baselines of all of our systems. The graphical interface enables sharing information with management to show them what is going on and where.

STRENGTHS: The automation capabilities of Unicenter Database Performance Management increase our application availability and ensure business continuance. The product enables us to monitor more with a single interface and brings all the information together in one place for easy viewing and trending. We can check on systems even when we are out of the office. With each new version, it gets easier to install.

WEAKNESSES: We think the product should provide extended viewing capabilities, enabling reporting of information over the Web so that management is able to have a role- based view of what is important to them.

SELECTION CRITERIA: We knew we needed enterprise-strength database monitoring and performance management from day one for our medical record and financial system projects. The operating system tools provided with our IBM servers did not provide the detail and database performance capabilities and depth we required. Moreover, we found that no other vendor offered in-depth database performance analysis and database server subsystem performance within one solution to meet our high availability requirements.

DELIVERABLES: Unicenter Database Performance Management continues to save us countless hours of work. Unicenter Database Performance Management automates all of our database monitoring.

VENDOR SUPPORT: When we called CA, they responded quickly and effectively. They even helped us resolve a critical application upgrade performance problem when the vendor for our health case system continued to say it was an environment issue. That run-around quickly ended when we were able to use Unicenter Database Performance Management to prove it was their problem, not ours. In that one activity alone, Unicenter Database Performance Management pretty much paid for itself. CA stepped up to the plate to support its customers.

DOCUMENTATION: CA's documentation complements the product and provides all the information an administrator needs.

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