Database performance: three signals to identify problems

Even the best-designed database applications can also experience performance degradation. Whatever their structures or the underlying code, things can go wrong. If these performance issues are not resolved quickly, it can become very detrimental for the company.

When the performance of a database is degraded, the business processes of the company are slowed down and result in complaints from users. But this is not the worst. If the performance of the externally connected systems is also impacted, the company may lose customers who will go elsewhere if the application is too late to give the good results.

The performance of database systems and applications can be reduced by a number of factors. The tools, able to identify problems and correct them, are therefore key for companies that rely on their critical applications to their foundations. And in today’s world, it can be said that this concerns the majority of companies.

Performance issues: what to consider

There are different performance issues. This complicates their identification and the primary reasons for the problem. For example, it is possible that the database structures or the application code are defective from the start. A poor design decision and poorly coded SQL commands can then be a source of performance degradation.

It can also come from a system that is well designed but whose recurring changes have affected performance. Adding data or users or the variety of access patterns can also slow down the best applications built on databases. And even maintenance operations, or even their absence, can contribute to it.

These performance issues can be detected by three signals:

Slowing down applications. The most revealing indication is when applications that have generally high performance run slower. This can be the case, for example, for online transaction systems used by customers and employees, or batches that process data for monthly reporting. It can be difficult to monitor performance without proper management tools. In this case, the DBAs use other methods to detect problems – user complaints that report frozen screens or data that does not load, for example.
Systems failure. When a system is down, it is obvious that the overall performance is degraded. Fault can be caused by database problems, such as lack of storage space, increased data volume, or lack of allocated resources.

Frequent updates of the hardware. Companies that are constantly updating their servers, with more memory and storage capacity are generally good customers at performance adjustments. Adjusting parameters, SQL commands and re-organizing objects in the database can be much less expensive than re-investing in new hardware.

On the other hand, adding equipment can sometimes be a solution to database performance issues. But with the right tools of monitoring and management, it is possible to minimize these costs of updating by identifying the causes of the problem and the possible solutions. For example, it may be more economical to add more memory or to integrate faster storage media to solve an I / O bottleneck. This is less expensive than a server replacement.

Problems that tools can help manage

When performance problems occur, it is highly unlikely that the primary reasons will be identified from the outset. A DBA has the ability to translate some vague user feedback into concrete problems that can degrade performance. But this is a difficult operation, which can be fraught with errors, especially if the DBA does not have automated tools to guide it.

Collecting the right baseline usage indicators and identifying specific issues – when they occur – are certainly the strength of performance management tools. Once a user feedback is raised, the DBA can rely on its tool to compare old and new metrics. Instead of chasing the root cause of the problem by hand, the application quickly examines the database and delivers its diagnosis.

Most of these tools can also be used to set up performance levels, which, once achieved, alert the DBA of a possible problem, or change the color of an indicator. DBAs also have the option of periodically scheduling performance reports to identify what needs to be addressed. Some tools, more advanced than others, can both identify and help solve problems.

Let’s imagine a scenario: a user calls the DBA to tell him that the display of an application responds less quickly than usual. The DBA, armed with its performance management tool, examines the stages and looks for alerts. By reviewing the steps, he can then identify the bottlenecks and find the right answer. Without tools, he does not know where to look.

Because there are a wide variety of issues that can affect performance, advanced tools offer an arsenal of features. Among the most critical, we find:

Review the performance of SQL code and be able to optimize it;
Analyze the effectiveness of the indexes;
Consider storage space and defragment disks as needed;
Control and manage the use of resources;
Simulate production in a test environment
Analyze the root causes.
No more waiting to optimize performance

Companies deploying RDBMS performance management tools can also avoid extended periods in degraded mode. These tools can limit the time needed to solve problems, or even help companies avoid all kinds of problems and failures. They allow a DBA to move from a reactive stage to a proactive stage. Instead of waiting for a symptom to rise, problems are quickly identified and corrected, either by the DBA or automatically by the tool.

Added to this are other capabilities: they can help companies manage service levels, revealing operational behaviors. SLA management ensures that applications behave as defined, by applying the right resources, and the right budget, according to their importance in the business. These performance management tools help DBAs monitor and manage the availability and response times of processes.

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