REVIEWER: Cesar Escorcia, senior staff consultant for Exodus.

BACKGROUND: As of April 1, 2002, all hosting and content delivery services historically offered by Cable & Wireless, Digital Island and Exodus will be managed by one business division and marketed in the United States as Exodus, a Cable & Wireless Service, and in the rest of the world as Cable & Wireless. Cable & Wireless is a major global telecommunications business with revenue of more than £8 billion ($11 billion U.S.) in the year to March 31, 2001, customers in 70 countries and consisting of two core and complementary divisions: Cable & Wireless Regional and Cable & Wireless Global. The company has developed advanced IP networks and value-added services in the United States, Europe and the Asia- Pacific region in support of this strategy. With its financial strength and the capability of its global IP infrastructure, Cable & Wireless holds a unique position in terms of global coverage and services to business customers.

PLATFORMS: AIX, Solaris, Windows NT and Windows 2000.

PROBLEM SOLVED: In order to troubleshoot a server, the DBA quickly needs specific information that gives an idea of what's wrong with the server. With DBXray, I can see very easily what's going on with the database. The indicators tell me what's broken or where there is a problem, not only in the Oracle database, but also related to the operating system.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: I use all of the features of the product (we've used everything), and the default thresholds are so good that I don't have to change them. Additional functions I would love to see in the future would be a reporting capability for the OS view. Right now, when you look at the OS server, you can see what's going on, but you cannot export that information to a report. For example, we are managing databases all over the world. If we have people checking servers and they need information to send to a senior DBA, it would be great if they could generate a report on the fly, put it in e-mail and send to me (a senior DBA). I could then look at the report and recommend a solution.

STRENGTHS: We have huge customers ­ insurance companies, banks and trading companies. There are many security concerns regarding the customers' data; thus, we cannot use products that have monitoring agents. A key strength of DBXray is that I can monitor the database without running an agent on the server. Additionally, a huge differentiator from other products is that we don't need agents. I just need to connect to the database and create six small tables. An added benefit of the product is that it recommends what to do to fix a problem. This is a plus when working with junior and mid-level DBAs.

WEAKNESSES: Not having the reporting capability on the underlying operating system on which the database is running is a weakness of the product.

SELECTION CRITERIA: We chose DBXray over competitive products for the main reason that the graphical interface is so easy to understand. This ease of use allows me to have the mid-level and even junior DBAs troubleshoot problems more easily ­ saving all of us time and increasing the productivity of our division and our company. Also, DBXray (as mentioned before) does not require agents, and that's a must in our industry.

DELIVERABLES: Reporting, done through WebDBA, includes a common GUI, reports for waits, latches and buff cache, and views which are good. The main page of DBXray is so comprehensive that drilling down is not even necessary most of the time (though completely possible and intuitive). On the main page, I can see ­ 24 hours a day ­ all of the database activity, any delays or locks, transactions holding, space information, etc. This page also displays the 10 hottest files at any given time, as well as alerts and advice notices on how to fix a problem.

VENDOR SUPPORT: We bought the support and the product, and BMC informed me when a new release was coming without my having to ask. The product is easy to use and install. When I had a problem, I opened a service ticket and within half an hour the fix was sent via e-mail. I even got a call to verify that everything was okay. Additionally, BMC asked me to participate in the product development process, which I enjoy.

DOCUMENTATION: The documentation is very easy to understand. If you download the product from the Web, you won't have the documentation; but I requested a hard copy that is easy to follow.

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