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Performance Optimization Services

OK, so you have the database running now, but is it running at it's fastest rate possible?

Let's first look at some theoretical numbers. The Actian PSQL/Zen database engine has been seen handling user counts in excess of 1200 concurrent users. The engine commonly handles databases comprising 150GB or more, with some 500GB databases out there! The PSQL/Zen database engine can also handle tremendous throughput volume coming from multiple users. Even a small server today can easily handle in excess of 10,000 Btrieve operations per second, and newer boxes can easily handle many times that volume. How does your database stack up against these numbers?

When you talk of sites running databases of this size successfully, you must also realize that they have specially-tuned the hardware and software configurations to maximize throughput. Many have started leveraging the power of the 64-bit engine to keep more data in memory at all times, with servers using 128GB of memory not being uncommon. (This is amazing, since when we started working with Btrieve in the early 90's, a server with 128*MB* of RAM was considered a lot!) Some sites have also started to leverage solid state disk hardware to optimize data I/O throughput, as well. In several cases, we have also been able to help a user make software modifications -- changes to the application design itself -- to maintain the high levels of activity and throughput required. In any event, the PSQL/Zen engine can handle this type of load just fine!

What is the key to all of this? Really, it all centers on understanding how the application works, how the database works, how the OS works, and how the network works -- all at the same time. Goldstar Software can work with you to analyze the existing performance levels of your entire environment and help identify where gains can be found to improve speed, throughput, or reliability.

Server Performance Review

The first step in analyzing the performance of a large Actian PSQL/Zen environment is to perform a Server Performance Review. This process examines your database server in detail, documents the current settings and configuration, and looks at things like database size, hardware constraints, and other factors that might impact performance. We then provide a complete written report with our findings and our suggestions for improving the environment.

Our fee for this service, done via a remote session over the Internet, is a flat rate of $995, which includes the server-side review via our remote support tool, as well as a complete written report which documents the current configuration and recommendations for improvement specific to your environment. It typically takes 2-3 hours of on-line research time (together with you), with the written report to follow (usually the next day).

On-Site Performance Review

As indicated above, the server is only one part of the entire performance equation. The other parts include the workstations, the database structure, the application, and the underlying network. Many of these areas cannot be handled by our on-line Server Performance Review, so we also offer in-depth on-site services to fill this hole.

Our on-site service engagements usually run for two days (unless specific issues need to be analyzed) and include a Server Performance Review, an analysis of critical workstations in the environment, and a review of the network connecting the two. We can also include the application and database structure in the analysis, which is ideal for application developers looking to gain an edge on speeding up their application for all of their users simultaneously.

Most importantly, this dedicated on-site time provides a wonderful way to train your own people. We don't just come in and start working in the dark. Instead, we work with your own staff to perform all of the analysis steps needed. This provides the needed transfer of knowledge to your people to allow them to continue optimizing and improving your environment long after we are gone.

The On-Site Performance Review can be done as a single day project, or we can schedule a two-day visit to allow for a downtime window during the overnight hours to allow for changes and monitoring the system the next day. We can also schedule longer terms for especially deep dives, such as analyzing specific applications, analyzing database SQL queries, and more, or when including system administrator or SQL developer training at the same time.

Mini Review

In some cases, the budget for a full review is simply not available. In other cases, the system administrators may have already looked over the environment and said it is fine, . These are times when a mini review might be "just right" for your situation. A mini review is similar to the full SPR described above, but we do only cursory checks on the various components and do not compile a written report about the current configuration or provide a complete list of recommendations. Instead, we work with you to concentrate on the database itself, checking system performance, monitoring workload, and showing you how to monitor your own system, and then allow you to take notes on the recommended changes for later implementation.

A mini review is billed as open consulting time, currently at $250/hr in 15-minute blocks. Because this is considered "open time", we can provide as much or as little time as you need, and we can go far deeper into the workload issues than is afforded by the regular SPR -- very useful if you think that SQL queries and their related workload are causing the bulk of your issues. We can even dovetail in one-on-one training where appropriate to make sure that your staff can monitor and address future issues, too.

For more information about our on-site and Internet-based performance optimization services, or to set up an appointment for a performance review, please contact us today.

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