BACKGROUND: Whirlpool Corporation needed a solution to help optimize the performance of approximately 140 Oracle database instances that support a variety of homegrown and purchased applications worldwide of those, several are running SAP enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications. We had selected a competitive solution set, but we were unable to implement it into our production environment after almost a year of trying.
PLATFORMS: IBM RS/6000, all versions of UNIX boxes, IBM SP-NODES all versions of UNIX boxes, IBM Netfinity NT boxes, Windows 95 client boxes.
PROBLEM SOLVED: We selected Quest Software's Production Support Suite, including Spotlight on Oracle (formerly Instance Monitor), to facilitate day-to-day database troubleshooting, reorganization and forecasting for capacity planning. Spotlight is a real-time diagnostic and resolution tool for Oracle that displays an actual graphical representation of internal database activity. This solution set automates database administration duties, allowing Whirlpool Corporation to perform proactive database management.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: What really sets Spotlight apart from other database diagnostic solutions are its graphical flow diagrams, which illustrate the real-time data movement between database components such as storage, memory and database network traffic. It not only provides us with in-depth information about the source of problems that cause performance bottlenecks, but its drill- down capabilities provide detailed information about database metrics so we can perform analysis and tuning. Additionally, Spotlight's unique calibration technology automatically learns the behavior of a specific database and automatically sets baselines, or thresholds, for normal activity. Other solutions of this type require users to manually perform that time-consuming task. This intuitiveness provides us with warnings of impending problems before they become critical. Spotlight's online tuning guide, which was authored by Quest's Oracle experts, gives us guidelines for diagnosing and tuning database performance issues. We also like the Production Support Suite because the tools are integrated. For example, SQLab Xpert simply snaps into Spotlight so users can tune code right on the spot, resolving issues for developers in minutes instead of days or weeks. These features help free up our time to allow us to perform other database and change management tasks.
STRENGTHS: The ease of installation really impressed us all the Quest products worked right out of the box. In less than two days we had almost 80 instances of Spotlight up and running enterprise-wide. Additionally, we were comfortable enough to push the product into our production database environment within the first week. The incorporated suite is helping us leverage our workload and increase our productivity as a whole.
WEAKNESSES: Although we are impressed with Spotlight's graphical display, the window takes up the full screen on the client side; it cannot be sized. Additionally, when performing administration, no more than two database instances can be open at once. These issues have been resolved in the product's next version, released in June 2000.
SELECTION CRITERIA: Whirlpool Corporation selected Quest's Spotlight on Oracle for its ease of installation and its intuitiveness. We had no real need for training on how to use the tool. On both the client and server sides, the solution is lightweight on our disk resources. With Spotlight's quick drill-down capabilities we see real-time problems and can drill down to the users and applications. We can then go from application to code and code to solution before there is any impact to the business.
DELIVERABLES: The information we need to diagnose impending issues is displayed on the screen, which is an actual representation of internal Oracle database activity.
VENDOR SUPPORT: The support staff has been outstanding. They have been very responsive. Quest has dedicated product-line help desk agents and we have been able to actually speak with the product managers, who have been eager to provide assistance.
DOCUMENTATION: The help screens within Spotlight itself are very comprehensive. They have led us to quick answers to our questions on a variety of topics. It also has good online help.
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