CATEGORY: Data Warehouse Design, Administration & Management

REVIEWER: George Hooper, lead DBA

BACKGROUND: Gaylord Entertainment owns and operates purpose-built convention resorts as well as a number of specialty entertainment and media companies. Based in Nashville, the company derives close to 90 percent of its revenue from its hotel operations. Among its properties are Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville, Tennessee, and Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center, near Orlando, Florida. Gaylord’s star entertainment holding is the Grand Old Opry.

PLATFORMS: BMC Software’s SQL Explorer solution is deployed on three platforms: two production and one test platform. All are running on HP- UX. The two production platforms are X10 and the test is running X11.

PROBLEM SOLVED: SQL Explorer addresses issues we are having with problem SQL. We use the high-speed data collector to identify which SQL is open, and if there is a performance problem with a particular SQL that’s causing high CPU or I/O we can quickly use the high-speed data collector to do an explain plan on that SQL. By utilizing the SQL Advisor function, we have various options and suggestions to tune any problem SQL. With well-tuned SQL, our company’s overall application performance is improved and productivity is enhanced.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: We are pleased with the way SQL Explorer is functioning. In the future, we may explore the option of utilizing the Index Advisor functionality. Also, if there is a problem SQL, we would like to not only see the SQL explain plan itself, but also see what program or package could be used as a procedure for executing the SQL.

STRENGTHS: The high-speed data collector is definitely SQL Explorer’s major strength. It is just a small footprint on your server, but at any given time it allows you to see what SQL is taking up the top 10 SQL processes or sessions. Another strength of SQL Explorer is its ability to record history. If you want to schedule it, the high-speed data collector can track over a period of time to see which SQL tend to always be on the top list or may need to be tuned. Within the same tool, you can also use the SQL Advisor feature to quickly find out other possible ways to tune it to where it will run faster.

WEAKNESSES: Rather than see just the SQL itself, we’d like to have the program, package, procedure or script in order to determine what is actually running the SQL.

SELECTION CRITERIA: The number one reason we chose BMC’s SQL Explorer was the company’s support and customer responsiveness. We were very impressed to see how responsive they were in providing information and following up on cases. We know we can depend on BMC’s customer support. BMC’s sales force was not intrusive; however, they really understood and met our needs. That made the company very attractive to us. In addition, we feel BMC provides strong products. We actually swapped out several different Quest products for BMC’s products. SQL Explorer helped us reach our goal of consolidating to as few products as possible because of the many functions this single product offered.

DELIVERABLES: SQL Explorer produces a historical data report. The high-speed data collector will keep historical data for you, and you can turn it on and off whenever you wish. At certain peak times of the month, you can turn it on to see what SQL is out there and it will provide you with a historical timeline of where your different peaks of SQL and activity reside.

VENDOR SUPPORT: BMC was very responsive both pre- and post-implementation. They went as far as to get a product manager on the phone with me to help answer my questions. Most companies I’ve dealt with don’t give you access to those types of folks. It gave us an in-road to those who are responsible for developing the product and its future direction. The best part of working with BMC is that they don’t blow a whole lot of smoke – they’re honest. They try to look at a problem from your perspective and see if a product meets your needs. If it does, they want to provide you with the product. If it doesn’t, they don’t shove it down your throat. BMC won’t try to sell you something if it doesn’t meet the needs of your company and future direction.

DOCUMENTATION: The online help wasn’t as explanatory as I’d like. It was good at explaining the different screens and describing what each button was for, but as far as the high-speed data collector, it basically just told you what the product did. However, if I was having trouble and had to open a case, BMC responded quickly and was able to fix the problem. Overall, the help documentation was good.

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