How Lab128 is Positioned
If you are a professional responsible for Oracle to run smoothly, you need a set of tools to do your job. Let us explain what we think the ideal tool set should be as of 2015, and then you decide if you agree to them or not. We will also explain how Lab128 fits in this picture.
Check for Free Stuff First
Never pay for something you can get for free. What we are talking about is Oracle Cloud Control (also known as OEM Grid Control, or simply Grid Control). If you are already using it, skip this chapter. OCC provides plenty of monitoring functions, such as up/down time of an entire system stack, not just the database. It can monitor non-Oracle systems; the open plug-in architecture allows extensions for any type of systems. OCC has improved significantly over the last several years and Oracle Corporation is paying close attention to its development. The Oracle Cloud Control is configurable and provides alerts in virtually all possible ways. Speaking about the Oracle database, OCC provides performance data with basic troubleshooting options. You can try and see if this basic coverage addresses your needs. OCC includes a data repository for long term trend analysis. And all of that goes for free.
It should be mentioned that there is a pain of installing and upgrading such complex monitoring system, not mentioning that it may need an additional hardware to run on. This was a limiting factor for OCC adoption, especially for small database installations. Anyway, the administrators of any size database should consider installing OCC. The pain of initial setup is worth the effort - you will get an experience and a good record in your resume. Unlike smaller systems, there is a good rate of adoption of Cloud Control in the enterprise environment; therefore your investment won't go away.
Having read that, you may suspect that we are paid by Oracle Corporation for running Cloud Control advertisement. Not at all, we just wanted to tell what makes sense these days. So, how Lab128 fits in this picture?
Lab128 Complements Cloud Control
Lab128 is state-of-the-art set of tools everybody needs, when Oracle performance is a serious concern. Lab128 doesn't compete with Oracle Cloud Control. It will be simply insane to compete with OCC because it is free and quite good. There are companies like Quest, Embarcadero, BMC Software, Veritas, Confio struggling to convince customers to use their complex and comprehensive solution for monitoring enterprise systems. They have to distinct their products providing additional values, but having a lot functionality overlapped with Oracle Cloud Control, they are losing a market share to Oracle Corporation. Given zealous effort on Oracle side to improve OCC, this trend is going to continue.
In Lab128 we are not trying to replicate functionality of other products. We are providing unique functionality nobody else has done. Lab128 implemented Active Session History (ASH) technique for Oracle 9i before 10g was released. We introduced even more efficient troubleshooting technique using frequent v$sqlstats/v$sql snapshots (for details see related article:"Oracle tuning using frequent SQL Area statistics snapshots"); this is absolutely a must to have because it provides new opportunities. Lab128 pioneered a score of another techniques and features which nobody else has. Entire development of Lab128 has been driven by the real needs to keep performance at peak. It has been constantly field-tested on the busiest Oracle databases in the world. Lab128 continues developing; it is open for suggestions and anything that makes sense. It is a real laboratory where the newest ideas are tested and adopted or rejected. Having this broad scope of features, we keep them organically integrated. It is easy to switch between different techniques to explore the problem from different angles.
The "Database Monitoring" can have different meanings. It can be watching if the system is up and available. It can be tracking size of the database, number of connections, critical warnings and errors and so on. In our view, this is part of infrastructure; some components of this are getting integrated into the database itself. Take the alert subsystem, for example, which became a part of 10g database. Oracle Cloud Control is an important part of this infrastructure. When it comes to performance monitoring and troubleshooting, it also should be considered as part of infrastructure. Some certain metrics can be tracked and recorded. On the other hand, performance troubleshooting is close to the art. It is more of ad-hoc nature and it doesn't easily fit into the infrastructure framework. It needs understanding of Oracle functioning and specialized tools. This is a place where Lab128 belongs.
Using visual metaphor,
Oracle Cloud Control is like:
Lab128 is like:
One Man's Inefficiency is another Man's Opportunity
It is quite logical to ask why Oracle Corporation wouldn't provide everything needed to successfully run their software - the database system, in this case. There are many reasons such as: low priority to supporting tools; reserving them to the internal use; technical challenges in creating and using these tools; or simply due to denial of having problems in the first place, as well as needs to have such tools. Meanwhile, we all need to run our production databases smoothly, and keep things under control. We don't care about those reasons, we just need these supporting tools. Here is why Lab128 came to existence. Until Oracle Corporation closes all these gaps, we need to do our work and use whatever helps us doing so.
Is Lab128 a hacker tool? Yes and no. On one hand Oracle has a lot of undocumented features, which would entitle anyone, who is using them, to be a hacker. Just quick example, have you seen an official documentation on dbms_system package, oradebug facility, or description of 10053 event trace files? Well, some notes on them can be found on Metalink, even more on Internet, in the blogs and discussions. Oracle professionals do use these features if they help them do their work more quickly and efficiently.
To Your Boss
Probably, you already tried Lab128 and clearly see the real value. In the end, you have to explain to your boss why it would make sense to make investment purchasing this software. As it happens quite often, your managers are not very verse in technical details. They operate at different level where any expense should be economically justified. Here is something you could pass to your boss, if you decide so...
As a principal decision maker, you entrusted your enterprise data to Oracle database technology for its reliability, versatility and performance. Oracle database is a very advanced and complex system. To manage these types of systems you need the best and brightest professionals you can find and afford. As a manager of human resources, you probably have seen that having highly experienced employees is economically justified. As your personnel grow professionally, they need best available tools. It really needs to be best of the best, cream of the cream. Quite often the price of the tools is not a factor, because this expense is greatly compensated by enhanced productivity of your staff and their increased knowledge. Given their acquired experience with the trial version of Lab128 and very reasonable pricing of this product, you have to make an economical decision toward licensing. Please help your employees do their work and contributing more to the value of your business.