Pythian Tools: Method R Profiler, MR Tools & MR Trace

Posted in: Technical Track

Working with 100 talented database engineers is fun and there are lots going on — lots of exciting (and not so much) projects ongoing, huge amount of problems solved, mistakes made (and learned from), many unique (as well as routine) customer needs satisfied, many new (and old) methods applied, many good (and less so) tools used.

With this blog post I’d like to start sharing a series of posts which I wanted to call “Pythian Recommended Tools”. After some thought, I decided to remove “recommended” — while this is a blog for the company’s employees, we try to preserve the personal aspect of blogging so any recommendation on Pythian Blog should be considered personal. Strictly speaking, this blog must have covered bunch of tools in the past but this time I’ll emphasize the tools that I really like and see widely used at Pythian. OK. Introduction is over.

If you haven’t spent the last few years under the rock, you must know how Business Intelligence solutions revolutionize businesses and open up totally new possibilities. Now, imagine yourself as a business and your Oracle Database as the source of the raw trace data. What it means is that with the right tools, your business of performance analysis can be literally revolutionized. Following this analogy, Method R tools are basically an all-in-one ETL + BI solution for Oracle database trace data: MR Trace dramatically simplifies acquisition of trace data; you then have an option to clean up and fix up trace data using MR Tools 2.0 utilities like mrcallrm and mrtimfix; you can then dive directly into slicing and dicing your trace data looking for patterns and bottlenecks using mrskew or can call to the powers of Method R Profiler leveraging best practices and rules created by some of the brightest minds in the industry; finally, you can dig into details of every trace line transformed to your liking using mrnl or mrtim utilities. Method R’s suite of tools is the unique and incredibly powerful analytical solution for your trace data.

One of the best characteristics of the result and conclusions coming from Method R tools is that it’s virtually impossible to argue with them — you can tell exactly where the problem is and how much it contributes to your response time. On many occasions, we struggled to convince a customer to perform certain changes. A correctly presented performance profile is often the most convincing solution. Mr Tools 2.0 makes it super easy regardless of the problem – whether it’s a bad SQL query or intermittent storage issues or flaky network infrastructure.

Another unique aspect of Method R tools is how meticulously precise and consistent the results are. If you ever had to dive into Oracle 10046 trace files, you know that raw numbers and presentation itself in the 10046 trace files is very inconsistent in different Oracle releases and on different platforms. Some combinations are plagued with bugs and omissions. I know how Cary Millsap and his fellow developers at Method R are working and how much time is going into testing of the results generated by the tools. You will never see approximate results — and if there is any ambiguity, it is always quantified. Warnings are always produced if the data is suspected to be inaccurate and this makes life of a performance analyst much much easier. For example, if you used Statspack reports extensively (and it does fit some needs very well), you would know that you could never really trust Statspack data 100% and it contains lots of anomalies and ambiguous numbers so you always need to do reality checks and frequently seek some additional confirmations to your observations and conclusion. This problem doesn’t happen with Method R tools and if they report you some numbers, you know you can rely on them. Always. None of the other tools (free or commercial) working with 10046 trace files come close to Method R in terms of precision and trustworthiness.

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About the Author

What does it take to be chief technology officer at a company of technology experts? Experience. Imagination. Passion. Alex Gorbachev has all three. He’s played a key role in taking the company global, having set up Pythian’s Asia Pacific operations. Today, the CTO office is an incubator of new services and technologies – a mini-startup inside Pythian. Most recently, Alex built a Big Data Engineering services team and established a Data Science practice. Highly sought after for his deep expertise and interest in emerging trends, Alex routinely speaks at industry events as a member of the OakTable.

5 Comments. Leave new

Giridhar Kodakalla
July 23, 2011 2:40 pm

Thanks Alex. This is an important article and we are interested to hear more about your recommended tools, especially on Database Monitoring and Alerting. There are so many players in this market, including DBAs custom scripts. So your recommendation on this topic will be helpful.


Alex Gorbachev
July 25, 2011 4:48 pm

Giridhar, thanks for the feedback. Will try to write up something but when it comes to monitoring and alerting we are usually out own tool developed in-house called Avail. It’s not available commercially or any other way to non-Pythian clients. However, we sometimes use third-party tools on customer request.

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