PLATFORMS: Union Pacific Railroad is currently running SQLab on Windows 3.1 and NT client workstations.

BACKGROUND: Serving 23 states and linking every major West Coast and Gulf Coast port, Union Pacific Railroad is the largest railroad in North America. It is one of the fastest growing transportation companies in the United States.

PROBLEM SOLVED: We were having performance problems with some of our databases, and the tool we were using was not meeting our needs. We needed a consistent way of quickly getting information regarding offensive SQL statements. SQL Plus required a considerable amount of work in order to get the information we needed. There was one instance in particular that was causing major performance problems and after receiving a demo version of SQLab, we decided to test its SQL tuning capabilities. We ran SQLab and, within a matter of minutes, we found the source of the problem--a task that would have taken hours of manually searching through the SQL statements until something showed up. And, before SQLab, sometimes we never found the source of the problem.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: We are extremely pleased with the functionality of SQLab. With the push of a button, we can drill down on the SQL statements that are causing poor performance and tune them accordingly. For example, to coax an EXPLAIN plan with SQLab, with just the push of a button we can drill down on the offensive statements that are causing poor performance and interactively tune them accordingly. In other words, you don't necessarily have to know how to tune the statement. The lab allows you to tweak the statement until you get the optimum solution and performance results you are looking for.

STRENGTHS: SQLab is extremely easy to use and intuitive. If there is a badly tuned SQL statement, we can find the problem within minutes. Without SQLab, it typically takes a minimum of two hours to find the source of a problem, and that's with a skilled DBA. In addition, the format of the information SQLab generates is excellent. It doesn't even require any interpretation; all you have to do is look at the screen and the problem is clearly identified. I have yet to experience a database-related problem that we could not expose with SQLab. And, the added repository feature enables you to automatically record the statistics so you can easily compare the performance before and after the statement has been tuned.

WEAKNESSES: We've never had any major issues with SQLab; however, we would like to see a smoother transition when upgrading to a new version of SQLab.

SELECTION CRITERIA: We were looking for a tactical tool that could drill down and identify offensive SQL statements. We ran SQLab against our database, and within minutes we had the information we needed to identify and tune the offensive SQL statements. SQLab was the only product that could provide this information, and it was so easy to use and intuitive that a DBA at any level could be productive with it immediately.

DELIVERABLES: SQLab delivers unmatched ease of use. You simply bring it up and the offensive SQL is displayed in the form of a graph so you can instantly see how many statements are running against a particular instance. Drilling down one level, you can then see the statement that is consuming the most resources, which may or may not be causing the performance problems, but you can identify it right away.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Quest Software's support is excellent. We've had very few issues that required any kind of support, but the ones we have had were solved very quickly.

DOCUMENTATION: With the on-line help and its ease of use, you never even have to look at a manual for SQLab.

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