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CorpView DBA Tracks Database Utilization for J.C. Penney Co.

  Product Review published in DM Review Magazine
July 1998 Issue
  By Jeffery L. Watson
Review of: CorpView DBA from BEZ Systems, Inc.

PLATFORMS: J.C.Penney is running a 12-node NCR 5100 WorldMark system, using release 3.0 of the UNIX operating system, and Version 2 Release 2 of the Teradata database management system.

BACKGROUND: J.C.Penney Company, Inc. is a major international retailer with $32 billion in annual sales and 200,000 employees.

PROBLEM SOLVED: J.C.Penney is required to track utilization on all its host- and server-based platforms, including the NCR/Teradata system. Although there are software products available in the marketplace that track utilization of Oracle and DB2 databases, no product other than CorpView DBA tracks utilization within the Teradata database. In addition, the Statistical Process Control (SPC) methodology is an integral part of J.C.Penney's tracking process and tools. Therefore, BEZ also chose to use SPC to exploit the tracking capabilities of CorpView. It does this by identifying workloads/users or tables that are using more or less computing resources than normal.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: CorpView supplies extensive information in such categories as CPU utilization, I/O rate, response time, arrival rate, table and column activity, and number of requests by hour or by day. The information is divided categorically on separate panels, selected by a click and point of the mouse. All categories show the specific metric data by workload, with drill-down capabilities to the workload SPC. From the workload level, the user drills down to the user level (which includes SQL), where the user SPC logic is available.

STRENGTHS: The power of the product itself lies in its graphical display of resource utilization and frequency of table and column accesses by hour for each day processed. With the information characterizing the resource consumption and frequency of table accesses by workload, the database administrator can quickly identify the critical workload/user and tables, enabling better system management. SPC is the preferred method for showing information trends in CorpView and whether or not it is tracking to expectations. However, until the product user recognizes the benefits of SPC logic, the graphical workload displays can significantly assist the DBA in day-to-day system administration.

WEAKNESSES: J.C.Penney has found that the CorpView product functions satisfactorily, but has requested that BEZ add the ability to work in client/server mode, "alert" capabilities and extend the number and type of graphs available. In addition, J.C.Penney is looking to BEZ to further exploit SPC in the product. These enhancement requests are either in progress or under review by BEZ.

SELECTION CRITERIA: When J.C.Penney initially purchased the BEZPlus software product for performance management and capacity planning, the selection process was very easy since BEZ was the only company producing capacity management software for Teradata. When BEZ later created the CorpView product, selection was again easy due to our good record with BEZ, as well as CorpView's distinctive capabilities in the marketplace.

DELIVERABLES: BEZ currently has the capability of generating HTML pages to display CorpView graphics in a World Wide Web environment. Although J.C. Penney has not yet explored this feature, the retailer plans to do so in 1998.

VENDOR SUPPORT: CorpView's primary strength is the support by BEZ. Not only is BEZ highly responsive to questions and concerns about its product, but it is also very receptive to enhancement requests. In short, when compared to other vendors, BEZ offers the best support I have ever seen.

DOCUMENTATION: The product documentation is clear on some features, but tends to lag behind the newest features available in the product.

Jeffrey L. Watson is a capacity planner for J.C. Penney Company, Inc.

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