Effective PeopleSoft Performance Monitoring

davidkurtz's picture

This advice note describes how to configure PeopleSoft systems on Oracle so that performance metrics are collected that are useful performance monitoring and subsequent performance tuning.

Contents

  • Oracle RDBMS Instrumentation
    • On-Line Component/Page Information
    • Application Engine Step Information
    • Cobol/nVision Instrumentation
    • nVision Layout Instrumentation
    • 2nd Database Connection Instrumentation
  • PeopleTools Performance Metrics
    • Cobol and Application Engine Batch Timings
    • PeopleSoft Performance Monitor

Summary of Recommendations

  • Set EnableAEMonitoring=1 in all Application Server and process scheduler domains in order to enable PeopleSoft instrumentation on-line, in the integration broker, and in Application Engine programs.
  • Implement the PSFTAPI package and trigger described above to set module and action at the start of all processes.
  • Implement Fine-Grained Audit policy and handler to instrument nVision processes if required.
  • Reduce AWR snapshot frequency from the default of 1 hour to every 15 minutes.
  • Enable Application Engine batch timings to at least database and preferably also file by setting AETrace=1152 in all Application Server and Process Scheduler domain configuration files.
  • Enable Cobol statement timings report should be written to log file by setting TraceSQL=128 in all Process Scheduler domain configuration files.
  • Performance Monitor is complex to set up and the delivered analytics are limited.  Nonetheless, the information that can be obtained from the data collected can be worth the effort of configuration to address on-line configuration and performances issues.

Oracle RDBMS Instrumentation

Oracle provides the dbms_application_info package to set certain attributes on the current database session.  These attributes are visible in some of the dynamic performance version, and are picked up by Active Session History (ASH) and can also be seen in AWR reports, Enterprise Manager screens, SQL trace files, and other performance utilities such as EDB360.  The package was first documented in Oracle 7.3.3

"Application developers can use the DBMS_APPLICATION_INFO package to record the name of the executing module or transaction in the database for use later when tracking the performance of various modules… System administrators can also use this information to track resource usage by module. When an application registers with the database, its name and actions are recorded in the V$SESSION and V$SQLAREA views. Your applications should set the name of the module and name of the action automatically each time a user enters that module. The module name could be the name of a … code segment in an … application. The action name should usually be the name or description of the current transaction within a module."

Oracle 7 Tuning, release 7.3.3 ©Oracle 1997, Chapter 23 Registering Applications

See also One of my Favourite Database Things: DBMS_APPLICATION_INFO
If module and action are consistently set to meaningful values as the application executes it is then possible to determine from where SQL statements originated and how different parts of the application are performing.
ASH is separately licenced as part the Diagnostics Pack, that is only available on Enterprise Edition of the database.  However, most PeopleSoft customers running on Oracle do so on Enterprise Edition and are licenced for the diagnostics pack.
PeopleSoft has set client_info since PeopleTools 7.53 so the PeopleSoft operator ID can be associated with the database session, mainly to allow auditing to be done with database triggers.  However, this attribute is not persisted to the ASH data.  However, client_id is also set to the operator ID, and this is collected by ASH.
PeopleTools has set module and action since PeopleTools 8.50, though the exact values used have changed sometimes with the PeopleTools version.
A new application server/process scheduler domain parameter EnableAEMonitoring was introduced in PeopleTools 8.54 to control this behaviour and it is not enabled by default.  If monitoring is not enabled module defaults to the program name and action remains blank.
Recommendation: Set EnableAEMonitoring=1 in all application server and process scheduler domains in order to enable PeopleSoft instrumentation on-line, in the integration broker, and in Application Engine programs.
See also:

On-Line Component/Page Information

In the online application, module and action are set to the component and page name respectively.  In a search dialogue, Action is set to 'xyzzy'.
In the Integration Broker module and action are set to service name and queue name.

Application Engine Step Information

In Application Engine, module is set to a string that includes the name of the Application Engine main program the was called and the sessionid_num for the current process instance number recorded on the process scheduler request table PSPRCSRQST.  For example: PSAE.PSPMCSOSUM.1448
Later on, it may be necessary to use regular expressions in SQL to process this string before profiling the ASH data.
Action is set to string concatenated from the Application Engine program, section, step name and step type.  For example: PSPMCSOSUM.GETCNT.CNT.P
The program name may be different from that shown in module if one AE program calls another.
Note: Application Engine still doesn't reset ACTION on DO SELECT steps

Cobol/nVision Instrumentation

Cobol, nVision and SQR do not set module and action.  Instead, they can be set at the start of every program initiated by Process Scheduler using a trigger on PSPRCSRQST.  The first thing a process does when it is initiated is to set the run status on its scheduler request record to 7, indicating that it is processing.  This is visible in the Process Monitor component.  A trigger on this transition can set module and action for the session to the program and process instance number on that row of data.
This technique was used prior to PeopleSoft adding instrumentation to PeopleTools.  It can still be applied to all processes, including Application Engine, because any PeopleSoft instrumentation will simply overwrite the value set by the trigger.

Recommendation: Implement the PSFTAPI package and trigger described above in order to set module and action at the start of all processes.
The same technique was also used prior to the introduction of ASH to enable Oracle SQL Trace if a particular run control was specified, and is still occasionally useful.

nVision Layout Instrumentation

One of the challenges of tuning and monitoring nVision is to be able to identify each report being run.   nVision reports always run as the same process name, either NVSRUN for a single report, RPTBOOK for a report book of many reports, or DRILLDWN for a nVision drill-down query.  Knowing the process instance is useful because then we can look up the operator and run control ID
However, it would also be useful to know the report ID being run.  When each individual nVision report starts it queries the runtime parameters from the PS_NVS_REPORT PeopleTools table.  There is no update, so it is not possible to capture this with a DML trigger.  Instead, it is possible to define a fine-grained audit policy on the query and set module within a PL/SQL handler package that is invoked by the fine-grained audit.

Recommendation: Implement Fine-Grained Audit policy and handler to instrument nVision processes if required

2nd Database Connection Information

PeopleSoft programs use a second database connection to increment sequence numbers to minimise the row level locking on such tables.  It is like an AUTONOMOUS_TRANSACTION in PL/SQL.  There is no PeopleSoft instrumentation on this session.  It is possible to use an AFTER LOGON trigger to set client_info, module and action.

Oracle Automatic Workload Repository (AWR) Snapshots

PeopleSoft generates a lot of non-shareable SQL.

  • Dynamically generated SQL, often in PeopleCode, concatenates strings of SQL with bind variables, thus the bind variables become literals in the final SQL statement.  Statements with different literal values are considered to be different statements with different SQL_IDs.
  • Similarly, dynamic Cobol statements result in literal values in the SQL statement.
  • %BIND() variables in Application Engine will also become literal values in the SQL Statement unless the ReUseStatement attribute is set on the AE step, however, this cannot be set on statements with dynamic fragments code are introduced with %BIND(…,NOQUOTES).
  • Application Engine programs that use temporary records can use different non-shared instances of the record in different executions, and this also results in different statements with different SQL_IDs.
  • See also Performance Benefits of ReUse Statement Flag in Application Engine

Consequently, the library caching is not particularly efficient in PeopleSoft, and dynamic SQL statements are often quickly aged out of the library cache.  AWR snapshots can only capture the SQL that is in the library cache at the time of the snapshot.  If the SQL statement, or at least a statement with the same force matching signature or plan hash value, cannot be found the AWR it cannot be identified or analysed.  Therefore, it is advantageous to increase the snapshot frequency on PeopleSoft systems.
Recommendation: Reduce AWR snapshot frequency from the default of 1 hour to every 15 minutes.  This change results in only a modest increase overhead in processing and space on AWR, but it is worth the additional information that is captured.
This advice also applies to Statspack that may be used if you are not licenced for the Diagnostics Pack.

PeopleTools Performance Metrics

Batch Timings

PeopleSoft Application Engine and Cobol programs can emit batch timings reports on successful completion.

Application Engine

Application Engine batch timings are controlled by the AETrace flag in the Process Scheduler domain configuration file and for on-line AE programs in the Application Server domain configuration files.

  • AETrace=128: batch timings report is written to the AE Trace file to
  • AETrace=1024: batch timings are written to PS_BAT_TIMINGS% tables in the database

The overhead of batch timings is negligible while the program is running because it is accounted in memory and only written to file or database when the process completes successfully.
Recommendation: Enable Application Engine batch timings to at least database and preferably also file by setting AETrace=1152 in all Application Server and Process Scheduler domain configuration files.
The trace setting in the process scheduler configuration can be overridden by setting process specific command line parameter overrides in the process definition.  This is often done to set other trace settings, it is also common to see these unintentionally left in place longer than necessary.  If trace is set in this way it should always also set the batch timings flags.
See PeopleBooks -> Development Tools -> Application Engine -> Enabling Application Engine Tracing

Cobol

PeopleSoft Cobol programs can only write batching timings reports to file and not to the database.  This is controlled by a different parameter.

  • TraceSQL = 128: Enable Cobol statement timings report 

Recommendation: Enable Cobol statement timings report should be written to log file by setting TraceSQL=128 in all Process Scheduler domain configuration files.
This trace setting can also be overridden by setting process specific command line parameter overrides in the process definition.  If trace is set in this way it should always also set the batch timings flags.

PeopleSoft Performance Monitor

This provides information about the performance of the PIA including response times for the online transactions.  Metrics are stored in a separate monitoring PeopleSoft system to minimize the effect of measurement intrusion.  It optionally samples the state of each web server, application server and process scheduler collecting operating system and Tuxedo metrics.  It also has a PIA session trace capability.
The sampled data includes the number of busy application server processes and length of inbound Tuxedo service queues.  This data can be used to validate the sizing of the application servers.
Recommendation: Performance Monitor is complex to set up and the delivered analytics are limited.  Nonetheless, the information that can be obtained from the data collected can be worth the effort of configuration to address on-line configuration and performances issues.

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