Why using SQLTXPLAIN
Every so often I see on a distribution list a posting that starts like this: “I upgraded my application from database release X to release Y and now many queries are performing poorly, can you tell why?”
As everyone else on a distribution list, my first impulse is to make an educated guess permeated by a prior set of experiences. The intentions are always good, but the process is painful and time consuming. Many of us have seen this kind of question, and many of us have good hunches. Still I think our eagerness to help blinds us a bit. The right thing to do is to step back and analyze the facts, and I mean all the diagnostics supporting the observation.
What is needed to diagnose a SQL Tuning issue?
The list is large, but I will enumerate some of the most important pieces:
- SQL Text
- Version of the database (before and after upgrade)
- Database parameters (before and after)
- State of the CBO Statistics (before and after)
- Changes on Histograms
- Basics about the architecture (CPUs, memory, etc.)
- Values of binds if SQL has them
- Indexes compare, including state (visible?, usable?)
- Execution Plan (before and after)
- Plan stability? (Stored Outlines, Profiles, SQL Plan Management)
- Performance history as per evidence on AWR or StatsPack
- Trace from Event 10053 to understand the CBO
- Trace from Event 10046 level 8 or 12 to review Waits
- Active Session History (ASH) if 10046 is not available
I could keep adding bullets to the list, but I think you get the point: There are simply too many things to check! And each takes some time to collect. More important, the state of the system changes overtime, so you may need to re-collect the same diagnostics more than once.
SQLTXPLAIN to the rescue
SQLT or SQLTXPLAIN, has been available on MetaLink (now MOS) under note 215187.1 for over a decade. In short, SQLT collects all the diagnostics listed above and a lot more. That is WHY Oracle Support uses it every day. It simply saves a lot of time! So, I always encourage fellow Oracle users to make use of the FREE tool and expedite their own SQL Tuning analysis. When time permits, I do volunteer to help on an analysis. So, if you get to read this, and you want to help yourself while using SQLT but feel intimidated by this little monster, please give it a try and contact me for assistance. If I can help, I will, if I cannot, I will let you know.
It is fun to guess WHY a SQL is not performing as expected, and trying different guesses is educational but very time consuming. If you want to actually find root causes before trying to fix your SQL, you may want to collect relevant diagnostics. SQLT is there to help, and if installing this tool is not something you can do in a short term, consider then SQL Health-Check SQLHC.