End-to-End Tuning

Users don't care about database statistics wait event counts and ratios; they care about response time; the duration that begins when they request something and ends when they get their answer. We use a sequence diagram to depict the response time of a user action. The sequence diagram shows the flow of control as the user action consumes time in the different layes in the technology stack.  The technology stack is a model that considers system components such as the business users, the network, the application software, the database kernel and the hardware in a stratified architecture. The following figure shows a sequence diagram for a multi-tier Oracle system which allows us to literally see how each layer in the technology stack contributes to the consumption of the response time.

Our tuning methodology focusses on an end-user's business transaction response time for optimization, by first trying to understand, which transactions in an application that are slow and important enough to the business to be fixed. We break down the end-user transaction's response time, across all the different service times and across all the different technical components of the Oracle architecture as they process each transaction to see where Oracle is spending it's time. The system level graphic is our way of conveying the response time matrix to address performance issues. 

One of my favourite descriptions of performance tuning, although I can’t remember where I first heard it, is that it is based on ‘informed common sense’. That really captures our own experiences of performance tuning. Yes, you need to use proper analysis techniques and often a great deal of technical knowledge, but that’s all devalued if you’re completely missing the point. So we always take a step away from the technicalities of the technology and consider the big picture to ensure the tuning effort makes sense and benefits the business. 


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Using a sequence diagram provides a wider and better understanding of the performance issue.

Response time foccussed optimization method provides measureable improvements.

The method targets the right user actions that directly impacts the business.

We collect the right diagnostic data that is meningful to the optimization effort.

The recommendation derived are focussed in provinding the biggest economic benefits to the business.