PLATFORMS: Weatherford is currently running packaged and custom Oracle applications on Hewlett-Packard servers running the HP-UX operating system. The local and remote users that access this application are typically running DOS, Windows 3.1 or Windows 95 clients.

BACKGROUND: Weatherford is a Houston, Texas-based diversified international energy service and manufacturing company that provides a variety of services and equipment to the exploration, production and transmission sectors of the oil and gas industry.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Database response times were becoming a critical business issue for Weatherford. Due to several acquisitions, we realized a significant increase in the number of users in a twelve-month period and a resulting increase in the size of some database files. Over 200 users were accessing the database from both company headquarters and from approximately 70 remote sites in the U.S. In addition, the size of customer files in the database grew with the accumulation of historical data. This increase in users and file sizes strained the performance of the custom Oracle application, causing the system to become intolerably slow. Some reports took six to eight hours to run, and most ad hoc queries were restricted to off hours due to their impact on everyday operations. We needed to support our users more effectively and chose Precise/SQL to solve the application performance problems.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: For Weatherford, Precise/SQL detects and tunes the performance problems experienced in everyday applications. The Inspect/SQL module can identify problem applications and pinpoint the inefficient SQL statements that are causing the biggest delays. Then, by implementing the Analyze/SQL module, we can model alternative query statements that serve the same function but run more efficiently and can sample the effect of these alternate statements before putting them into production. By reviewing the explain function and the statistics provided, database administrators can then modify the offending SQL statements and replace them with faster, more efficient code.

STRENGTHS: Precise/SQL finds and fixes the true source of the problem: the inefficient query statements tapping into the database and slowing application performance. A major strength of Precise/SQL is that Analyze/SQL can be used to produce optimized source code before it is put into production. Weatherford can, therefore, proactively tune the performance of applications and avoid potential performance problems by writing efficient code in the application design stage. Analyze/SQL also has a Simulate Change feature that simulates the effect of adding, changing or deleting an index.

WEAKNESSES: The user must manually model the alternative SQL statements automatically generated by Precise/SQL to see if these statements improve performance.

SELECTION CRITERIA: After seeing a demonstration, Weatherford chose Precise/SQL because it can be used in two ways: to tune existing database applications and to optimize new code before deployment in production applications.

DELIVERABLES: Precise/SQL provides on-screen graphical reports about performance bottlenecks and resource consumption that can be copied into other documents. It also includes a graphical explain plan report and historical performance reporting that enables users to view database performance history and activity at different levels (including users, programs and SQL statements) and across time periods and includes timing and execution statistics.

VENDOR SUPPORT: The Precise/SQL technical team is responsive and knowledgeable. Most of the support personnel are experienced DBAs with a thorough understanding of the product and database performance.

DOCUMENTATION: Precise Software offers a trial kit that includes installation instructions and a walk-through of the product's major features. In addition, Precise provides clear instructions through on-line files and written documentation.

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