BACKGROUND: The Metropolitan Transit Authority (Metro) of Harris County, Texas, is one of the best bus systems in the country. Metro has facilities that include 24 park-and-ride lots for commuters with approximately 27,100 parking spaces, 14 transit centers with approximately 2,150 parking spaces, 130 bus routes and 1,036 buses on the street during peak hours ­ all covering a 1,281 square-mile service area.

PLATFORMS: Bradmark's DBGeneral Enterprise Monitoring Module supports Oracle databases on HP-UX, AIX, Sun Solaris, Windows NT, DEC UNIX and SINUX with server agents, while also supporting Oracle databases on any other platform, such as DEC OPEN VMS through the SQL*Net V2 or Net8. The user interface is run on workstations under Windows 95 or Windows NT.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Metro runs a number of applications hosted in Oracle databases across multiple servers and operating systems. Various applications support over 1,300 users on Microsoft Windows NT 4.0 workstations with a total MIS staff of 60 and a DBA staff of only three. The challenge was to provide a high level of database performance and availability across all applications and servers with minimal staff. DBGeneral Enterprise Monitoring Module provided the most comprehensive management tool to capture, analyze and alert the DBA to database operating conditions that needed attention. With the ability to store performance data in a repository, trends can be revealed in addition to immediate alerting for serious problems.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: DBGeneral Enterprise Monitoring Module is one piece of the complete DBGeneral management solution. The Enterprise Monitoring Module will monitor an unlimited number of Oracle database servers through a distributed agent technology or SQL*Net connections. With a strong mix of graphical and numeric presentation screens, the Enterprise Monitoring Module easily identifies problems from a total performance level and easily facilitates the drill down necessary to find the specific problems. The repository capability allows performance data to be collected as needed and to compare performance across time frames to isolate problems to specific applications or application functions. Conditions set by the DBA can trigger alarms that result in an e-mail, alphanumeric page, SNMP trap, pop-up window, Windows NT system log, HP OpenView or Tivoli alerts.

STRENGTHS: DBGeneral presented an extremely flexible interface and management solution to monitor the health and performance of the Oracle databases Metro has on multiple operating system platforms. By providing choices to the DBA, database performance monitoring and management can be tailored to the needs of Metro and not to the expectations of the developer of the product. Also, as Oracle becomes more sophisticated in the metrics it can provide, DBGeneral can easily accommodate the monitoring of those metrics.

WEAKNESSES: While the reporting is strong, customized reporting must be exported into an external tool to be further manipulated. It would be beneficial to have more vendor baseline reports, addressing the top areas that a DBA would be concerned about.

SELECTION CRITERIA: The need for cross-platform support, in particular OPEN VMS and Windows NT, led Metro to DBGeneral for this technology. The flexibility of the product to monitor, analyze and alert critical database activity was needed by the small staff of DBAs at Metro. The addition of the historical repository allows the dimension of precise time management for the Metro DBAs to manage the production databases and the development environment.

DELIVERABLES: DBGeneral Enterprise Monitoring Module delivers information through real-time alerting and screen presentations of data in tabular and graphical formats. Archived data in the repository can be reported in the screens or through external reporting tools by easily exporting the data.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Support is offered through documentation, phone and on-site personnel. The on-site and phone support personnel seem genuinely interested in the success of Metro and demonstrated an in-depth knowledge of databases and their use in the enterprise. This high level of understanding has facilitated a very comfortable level of acceptance for the product at Metro.

DOCUMENTATION: Electronic versions of the printed documentation enhance the ability of the user to locate answers quickly with full text search capabilities. The documentation addresses installation and operation of the product.

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