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How to tune 3rd party Oracle vendor applications

Oracle Tips by Burleson Consulting
December 30, 2003


If you use a vendor package with Oracle you may be one of the thousands of shops that struggle with optimizing and tuning a vendor systems that you did not write, and cannot change.

From small departmental application to giant ERP packages, customers are now asserting their right to be provided with reliable documentation about the proper configuration for Oracle.

This is especially true for vendors of departmental applications that are growing their client base and moving from small simple databases (MySQL, SQL Server) to a robust database such as Oracle.

The most problematic issues are with vendors who fail to provide instructions for optimizing their SQL statements.  No information is provided about the proper optimizer_mode, and their SQL execution plans are not stabilized with hints or stored outlines.  The unsuspecting customer is then left with the formidable task of tuning SQL that they did not write and  are not responsible for tuning.  This can result in tens of thousands of dollars in unnecessary expenses.

These vendor oversights have become such a great problem that Mike Ault, (noted DBA expert) has written the book Tuning Third-party Vendor Oracle Systems: Tuning when you can't touch the code:

It is considered the vendor's responsibility to provide Oracle installation configuration and optimization instructions and to ensure that their SQL has been optimized for the Oracle cost-based SQL optimizer.

Major ERP vendors (SAP, PeopleSoft, Oracle Applications) have long recognized this responsibility and go to great lengths to ensure that their software runs efficiently for Oracle.

If you are a victim of shoddy vendor optimization for Oracle, insist upon your rights.  As a customer, it is not your responsibility to hire expensive consultants to configure and tune your vendor's package.

In sum, you should insist that your vendor provide the following documentation:

1 - Server Configuration Guide
  • Required OS versions and patch levels
  • Kernel parameter adjustments (registry settings for Windows)
  • Disk configuration options (supported RAID levels)
  • Disk load balancing requirements (preventing disk I/O bottlenecks)
  • File standards for Oracle server files (names, locations, permissions)
  • RAM swap configuration
  • Server troubleshooting guide
2 - Configuration guide for Oracle
  • Required version and patch levels
  • Recommended init.ora settings
  • Non-default object settings (PCTFREE, PCTUSED, FREELISTS)
  • Tablespace options (locally-managed tablespaces, bitmap freelists)
  • Configuration of rollback segments (undo logs) online redo logs and archived redo logs
  • Recommended backup & recovery strategy
  • List of key tables and indexes
  • Partitioning and tablespace segregation strategy
  • Sample tnsnames.ora, sqlnet.ora and listener.ora files
  • Statistics generation requirements (dbms_stats parameters, histogram columns)
  • Failover (continuous availability) strategy
3 - Management Guide
  • Procedures for addressing trace and dump file errors
  • Procedures for reporting application code errors
  • Escalation procedures (when to call vendor vs. calling Oracle Technical Support)
  • Monitoring requirements and recommended tools
4- Tuning & Troubleshooting Guide
  • List of critical Oracle metrics to monitor and their root cause
  • Troubleshooting techniques
  • Early Warning techniques

There are many services that provide this service for third-party Oracle vendors, so there is no excuse for suffering from poor performance and paying for expensive consulting services:

If you are the victim of a shoddy Oracle vendor implementation, insist on your rights to be provided with complete and accurate Oracle documentation.  Remember, it's the vendors responsibility!

If you like Oracle tuning, you might enjoy my book "Oracle Tuning: The Definitive Reference", with 950 pages of tuning tips and scripts. 

You can buy it direct from the publisher for 30%-off and get instant access to the code depot of Oracle tuning scripts.



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Note: This Oracle documentation was created as a support and Oracle training reference for use by our DBA performance tuning consulting professionals.  Feel free to ask questions on our Oracle forum.

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