3 Use Cases for Optim Workload Replay

The complexity of the systems, databases and applications continues to get worse.  Getting a clear understanding of all the existing applications’ processing, dependencies, and workloads only gets more complicated and difficult to understand.  As more complexity gets added to your in-house applications, or new versions of packaged applications are leveraged for their new features, the capacity planning aspects of big data, software packages, and peak web workloads continues to get harder to predict and thoroughly test with real world conditions.

Since computer processing, started every IT shop and vendor recognized workload testing was difficult and came up with many different types of methodologies and products to model, capture, test, and replay processing workloads.  Most if not all of these previous options came up short as performance validation, workload testing, and stress testing tools, but that may be finally changing.

Talking with some of the people who recently migrated to DB2 11 and some of the IBM Silicon Valley Lab technical folks at their recent boot camp, it seems that the latest versions for z/OS and LUW of Optim Workload Replay may provide an option that solves a lot of the analysis requirements for process measuring, software testing, and validating database changes.

DB2 for z/OS continues to handle the majority of transactions at large Fortune 500 companies. With all the new optimizer efficiencies, I/O and CPU cost savings in DB2 10, and those now in available in DB2 11, companies want to adopt these new DB2 versions as soon as possible.  Also, the business’s desire for new features and capabilities in software packages such as in SAP, PeopleSoft, and others are forcing quicker upgrade cycles. Unfortunately, understanding existing application workloads, application processing, and systems use along with the potential overhead or savings of these new components is very difficult.  Below are three reasons showing how the new version of Workload Replay is raising the bar for all workload testing tools.

  1. Finally a tool that captures the actual workload.  The various workload tools on the market over the years have used a variety of technologies to simulate transactions, estimate/project workloads, or build database SQL activities.  Optim Workload Replay leverages the S-Tap technology from the IBM Guardium audit security platform to actually capture the entire SQL workload from any existing environment.  For example, all of the production SQL workload could be captured and then made available through the tool for later replay.  There are several Workload Replay components to install, but once that is done there is no extra work to build scripts of transactions and no requirement to simulate variables. All that is needed is a command to tell it to capture your production workload transactions.  It also captures many different types of workloads, because it can capture the SQL requests against DB2 and other vendors’ databases.

  2. Workload tool that let you filter what is captured.  With SAP, PeopleSoft, and other complex workloads the transactions are varied and unique to your database, its configuration, and the hardware it runs on.  While the Workload Replay z/OS version works best in a Fast Copy/Cloned production environment to test environment like the one that I talked about a bit ago, the Optim Workload Replay tool provides facilities to filter the workload captured.  Instead of simulated transactions or script manufactured transactions, the actual real SQL workload and its complexities can be replayed against new database structures, software versions or in conjunction with other workloads to see how the different applications interact.

    The Workload Replay filtering and adjustment settings lets you capture the exact workload that needs to be replayed.  Your team can adjust the settings so you then can reuse the workload and replay it as many times as desired, testing with the exact workload you need.  By filtering the captured workload via schema, connection type, DB2 Plan/package, client user, and other options, you can limit the workload captured and set the testing up to be exactly what is needed and get the exact I/O and CPU capacity requirements.  Since the workload is captured with all the SQL, Workload Replay provides controls so it can be played back at different rates against the testing environment to simulate different hardware, software, or DB2 configurations.

  3. Workload Replay for real testing.  One of the biggest benefits of this new tool is that it can capture every SQL statement within your application.  This can be vital for testing all types of software versions and configurations such as new software bases of SAP, PeopleSoft, new versions of DB2 or different web configurations.  Now your production workload can be captured easily and then run against a new level of software or database in another test environment very quickly and also without application developers’ time or help.  Instead of having weeks or months of application developers time spent testing their version of transactions or applications, Optim Workload Replay can be used to run your actual SQL production workload.  By replaying the SQL captured, the other testing environment can exercise any new database software versions, PTFs, different threads settings, database changes, or system configurations.

    By testing with different levels of software or different configurations, any problems, inefficiencies, or incompatibilities can be quickly exposed.  All of these are exposed without spending extra developer time, saving huge amounts of employee time (and associated payroll or opportunity costs) during software package and application PTF, release, and version upgrades.  Since the SQL workload being replayed is from your production environment, the workload can be simple, diverse, or complex, testing every database change dependency of your applications and software environment.  Also, through the Workload Replay tool replaying the same known workload, you can test different aspects of database structures, indexes, buffer pool configurations, thread pool arrival rates, and performance improvements.  This type of repeatable SQL testing can quickly show the cost savings or extra overhead of any configuration change and/or new software version.

Make sure to mention these Optim Workload Replay features and its ability to quickly test things out to your application developers, because they will love not having to do the drudgery of production version and PTF testing again.  Some companies are saving months or weeks of time in testing, eliminating application developer time testing, and proving their new versions of software, environment configuration changes more accurately through this new tool Optim Workload Replay.

Dave Beulke is a system strategist, application architect, and performance expert specializing in Big Data, data warehouses, and high performance internet business solutions. He is an IBM Gold Consultant, Information Champion, and President of DAMA-NCR, former President of International DB2 User Group, and frequent speaker at national and international conferences. His architectures, designs, and performance tuning techniques help organization better leverage their information assets, saving millions in processing costs.

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