Savant adds new tools to diagnostic software

Savant Corp. last week announced the availability of a new release of its visual performance monitoring software for Oracle Corp. database management systems, adding a new set of analysis and problem resolution tools.

The Q Diagnostic Center consolidates a view of the entire database environment including input/output, memory, session activity and other components into one intuitive presentation screen, a technique known as data visualization.

The software is focused on trend analysis, assessing performance on various metrics by comparing performance data over an extended period.

If the performance trend falls below an average trend, the software alerts an administrator. In contrast, widely used event management tools focus on individual time frames, triggering alarms when performance falls below a specified level, according to the company.

The core Q Diagnostic Center already is a presence in the federal database market, an estimated 87 percent of which uses Oracle database software, said Alec Glorieux, Savant corporate strategist in Bethesda, Md. Customers include the Customs Service, the Justice Department and the Internal Revenue Service.

Savant's approach "assumes that problems exist," Glorieux said. Other tools manage by exception, assuming systems are healthy until an event is reported. Complementary tools from BMC Software Inc. and Platinum Technology Inc., for example, take the event management approach, he said.

Among the new features in the Q Diagnostics Center 2.0 is a tool tailored for data warehouse users. Savant's Data Warehouse Diagnostics tool will be the first performance diagnostic tool "to visualize data warehousing performance problems," helping database administrators (DBAs) to manage and diagnose problems in Parallel Query environments, Savant said.

The new release also adds the Job Queue Manager, which provides a graphical window— like a Windows print queue manager— that shows which jobs are in line, their owners, and their status and health. Administrators can start, stop, kill and advance jobs in the queue. Comparable tools require database administrators to view each job separately, Glorieux said.

Other tools include SQL*Net Diagnostics, which helps DBAs to display and assess application performance problems, and SQL Diagnostics, which helps them to analyze and tune Structured Query Language statements for querying a database. The latter also provides problem resolution, Glorieux said. "You see the cost and impact of a current statement" and are shown "a better SQL statement."

Other vendors, such as Precise Software Solutions Inc. and Platinum, are providing similar tuning capability, but "ours is integrated into a larger suite," he said.

Savant "helps people to visualize the client/server, database transactional environment," said Paul Mason, vice president of infrastructure software research with IDC, Framingham, Mass. Its visualization techniques give users, at a glance, an overview of system operations. Mason singled out, for example Q's "unusual graphic concepts," such as "funnels filling up" and oval-shaped visuals that give users "a feel for where they are." Savant "has advanced the state of the art," he said.

A DOJ customer is using Q Diagnostics Center for a hardware migration and database tuning effort, said Ross Mohan, a consultant with Greencastle Database Systems in Chevy Chase, Md. Greencastle also used the software extensively in "tuning and setting up databases" for a quasigovernmental financial agency.

Mohan cites Q's "very intuitive interface." The "dense presentation of information" increases efficiency, saving him "half an hour to an hour a day." In one case, one agency's data migration initiative had been projected to take 40 days. But Q helped to get it down to three and a half days, Mohan said.

A DBA using Q Diagnostic Center at another agency also noted its capability to "dig into the client side" of an application. "You can debug SQL*Net at the client level," the DBA said.

-- Adams is a free-lance writer based in Alexandria, Va. She can be reached at cbadams@erols.com.

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