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yourfanat wrote: I am using another tool for Oracle developers - dbForge Studio for Oracle. This IDE has lots of usefull features, among them: oracle designer, code competion and formatter, query builder, debugger, profiler, erxport/import, reports and many others. The latest version supports Oracle 12C. More information here.
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How to measure application performance as experienced by the end user

Accepting the End-User Challenge to Manage Performance in a Web 2.0 World
Measuring the user experience is the only accurate way to understand application performance in the world of cloud computing. This challenge becomes more acute with the emergence of Web 2.0 techniques. If the little black dress is served using an AJAX-based application, total response time includes the time it takes for the customer's PC to crank through the JavaScript that provides the dropdown box showing the dress sizes available in stock. If the dropdown box is slow to appear, it could be a hidden performance problem in the cloud, or it could be that the customer is visiting the site from an ancient PC that is slow in cranking through the JavaScript. Either way, it is IT's problem when the customer complains or when performance problems reduce overall site results.

Problem Resolution in the Cloud Requires the Right Data Not More Data
No amount of data collected from the hardware and software modules or services in the cloud will help IT detect end-user performance problems. Nor will that data provide the actionable information needed for quick problem resolution. In fact, given the large number of "moving parts" in the cloud, more data can actually confuse the problem triage process and inhibit problem detection and resolution. Unfortunately for IT, the usual arsenal of monitoring solutions may gather a lot of data but much of it is irrelevant to the real issue. These tools monitor a particular infrastructure silo like network, server, middleware, and database and simply can't provide a holistic measurement of transaction performance through the infrastructure and application tiers. The complexity of cloud computing baffles current tools because it is simply impossible to individually monitor all the moving parts that must work together - including third-party hardware and software components or services - that exist in the cloud.

When IT tries to use the wrong tool for the job, a high percentage of applications problems are never detected by systems that were put in place to manage them. According to a survey by Dennis Drogseth, VP of research at Enterprise Management Associates, 43% of application problems fall into this category. This situation can present significant bottom-line impact when customers are exposed to nearly half of the problems while IT detects none of them. In the push toward using the Internet cloud to drive revenue, deliver customer self-service or establish a strong brand, a high level of unknown application problems will hinder the success of the business.

To effectively manage the performance of applications running in the cloud, IT needs a new way to monitor application performance. A way that provides visibility into the performance of the application as experienced by the end user (the "what") measured directly at the end user's browser (the "where").

How to Monitor the "What" at the "Where"
We have established that it is near-impossible to manage the performance of applications delivered through the cloud without first understanding application performance as experienced by the end user. IT has tools and methods that can directly measure or estimate the end-user experience (the "what"). However, the real challenge is to present a holistic picture of transaction performance as impacted by the hundreds of moving parts in the cloud (the "where") and do so non-intrusively from the end user's browser for all users. Let's examine the alternatives for measuring the "what" and the "where."

There are two options for measuring or estimating end-user experience:

1. Empirical measurement of end-user performance through:

  • Synthetic or script-based monitoring "robots"
  • Algorithmic calculation of end-user performance using data collected through "sniffed" network data.

2. Direct measurement of end-user performance through:

  • Client-side agent installation
  • Dynamic injection of browser instrumentation.

Of these two options, direct measurement is generally more accurate because it collects performance information at the end user's browser and holistically measures the round-trip time from browser to database through the cloud. On the other hand, the empirical measurement approaches have been used to monitor Web applications for a longer time, and are, in some cases, easier to deploy.

The techniques cited above can be categorized into two broad approaches:

  • A passive approach deploys software and/or hardware to measure application performance through "listening-in," that is, instrumenting and recording actual Web traffic or transactions to determine performance. This is akin to using a canary or a gas detector to detect the presence and level of methane in a mine.
  • An active approach entails periodically generating mock Web traffic or transactions and then measuring the response time of the infrastructure. This is akin to lighting a match from time to time to see if the small flame from the match flares up indicating the presence of methane.

Measurement types

Empirical

Direct

Passive

Sniffer

Installed Agent

Dynamic Injection

Active

Synthetic Monitoring

(not applicable)

Table 1: Categorization of monitoring techniques

Let's examine these approaches in greater detail.

Synthetic Monitoring
Using this technique, a representative transaction is scripted and executed periodically from a remote PC and the application response time is recorded. A number of service providers can be contracted to generate synthetic load on a Web site or application from anywhere in the world and measure the resultant round-trip time. By running the same synthetic load from a fixed location periodically, IT can collect data to perform trending analysis on the capability of the application as delivered through the cloud.

A key concern in using the synthetic monitoring approach versus direct measurement at the browser is whether the synthetic script truly mimics how a "typical" user interacts with the Web application. If the script isn't current, not representative of a "typical" user, and/or not comprehensive, then critical performance issues or fault conditions will be missed. More often than not, the synthetic script will be limited to (1) a sample load-testing script that was used in development or (2) measuring only the most common functions like accessing the home page or log-in.

These are certainly not representative of how a real user interacts with the application, and cover only a very small portion of a typical Web application. Another deficiency of the synthetic monitoring approach is that it puts a load on the infrastructure. The challenge for active monitoring tool vendors is to ensure that their tools work efficiently to minimize the adverse effect on Web application performance.

Sniffers
Sniffers are a common passive monitoring technique and are good enough for some performance issues, but not for cloud computing. They first entered the market in the mid-'80s to diagnose problems with the LAN (local area network). A sniffer, either as a piece of software running on a network-enabled PC or a dedicated network appliance, captures only the network traffic that passes the point where it's installed. This data set is used to understand network usage, bandwidth utilization by device, flagging errors, etc. With the emergence of Web applications, analytical capabilities have been added to some sniffer appliances that allow them to estimate the time it takes for a packet to travel from the server via the Web to the end user's browser.

About Hon Wong
Hon has served as CEO of Symphoniq Corporation since its inception. Prior to joining Symphoniq, Hon co-founded NetIQ, where he served on the board of directors until 2003. Hon has also co-founded and served on the board of several other companies, including Centrify, Ecosystems (acquired by Compuware), Digital Market (acquired by Oracle) and a number of other technology companies. Hon is also a General Partner of Wongfratris Investment Company, a venture investment firm. Hon holds dual BS in electrical engineering and industrial engineering from Northwestern University and a MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

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Reader Feedback: Page 1 of 1

Cloudy Issues / Clear Answers: the benefits and challenges

I recently had the opportunity to present on the topic of Cloud Computing from the perspective of my employer—SmarterTools, an independent developer of Web-based applications. It was at PubCon in Las Vegas and I sat on a panel with Mike Culver from Amazon Web Services. My take was to separate truth from hype.

The feedback was overwhelming! So much so that we followed it up with an article and a copy of the presentation:
http://www.smartertools.com/blog/archive/2008/11/20/cloud-computing-chal...

As Cloud Computing gains market share and market buzz, it is important for us to remember what it really is and—perhaps more importantly—what it really isn’t.

Be well,
Jeffrey J. Hardy
http://www.smartertools.com


Your Feedback
Jeffrey J. Hardy wrote: Cloudy Issues / Clear Answers: the benefits and challenges I recently had the opportunity to present on the topic of Cloud Computing from the perspective of my employer—SmarterTools, an independent developer of Web-based applications. It was at PubCon in Las Vegas and I sat on a panel with Mike Culver from Amazon Web Services. My take was to separate truth from hype. The feedback was overwhelming! So much so that we followed it up with an article and a copy of the presentation: http://www.smartertools.com/blog/archive/2008/11/20/cloud-computing-chal... As Cloud Computing gains market share and market buzz, it is important for us to remember what it really is and—perhaps more importantly—what it really isn’t. Be well, Jeffrey J. Hardy http://www.smartertools.com
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