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Oracle application performance management done right

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Eldred Smikle

Oracle application performance management is a crucial process if you want to stop your systems from slowing down. The most common scenario for performance optimization is when your system starts running so slowly that it impacts business efficiency -- reports, web forms and normal business processes all take longer than usual.

We frequently receive calls from about performance issues from companies. We didn't necessarily do the initial enterprise performance management (EPM) installation, but they need assistance with their increasing performance degradation.

For example, we got a call from a company experiencing extended wait times for financial reports and slowly loading web forms. Our assessment showed that they initially deployed Oracle EPM, but kept existing data inputs and dimensions from their previous system. The result was an application that was too cumbersome to use, and, consequently, the performance was incredibly slow. We reviewed their system and the company’s processes and saw several ways to create efficiencies and improve overall Oracle application performance management. We reduced the amount of data coming into the Workforce module because granular data wasn't necessary for the company's high-level forecasting needs. We also streamlined the number of dimension and added new hierarchies, which improved both usability and performance.

Fix slow systems with Oracle application performance management

Over time, system performance tends to degrade. Conducting a technical assessment to determine the source of the congestion is the first step. The standard investigation process usually involves looking at three main components: the database, the applications and the infrastructure.

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All Oracle EPM products flow downstream from the database. Review the database configuration with the database administrator and determine how it's working. The database configuration is an integral part of the system's performance. Database configurations can vary, which is the reason that the database is the first stop of a technical assessment.

The next step with Oracle application performance management is to review the configuration of each product: Hyperion Financial Management, Planning, Essbase, etc. Analyze each product's performance.

It is also important to review hardware connectivity and communication -- routers, domain security and everything else that affects the Oracle EPM solution. Ensure that all the proper components are communicating seamlessly.

Once you've found some potential issues, you must research, isolate and modify them. How you modify them is entirely dependent on the issue.

Oracle application performance management can avoid issues

The best way to avoid the above scenario is to do proactive performance optimization, in the form of regular system health checks. This is a systematic approach to identifying, tuning and eliminating bottlenecks until your Oracle EPM applications meet your performance objectives. An example: With one of our clients, we discovered some performance bottlenecks caused by a network firewall. We tuned the system and eliminated the bottlenecks before the IT department ever had users knocking on their doors.

To run a lean and efficient system, it's a good idea to take the extra step of performance optimization immediately following the installation of the Oracle EPM applications. Do everything possible to optimize the system and ensure top performance. Since every implementation is different, there is no cookie-cutter approach for system optimization. However, the approach for determining if you need to optimize is the same: Login to the system, run basic business processes, gather system metrics and isolate congestion points. This is how we quantify what the word "slow" means. Then you review the data to determine if there is any tuning or modification that can be done to improve performance. It is very important for Oracle application performance management to be proactive with testing and gathering metrics.  This can save a lot of time and pain later on.

This was first published in April 2013

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