Oracle databases are the beating heart of many companies, supporting mission-critical online transactions and analytics. Monitoring Oracle database health and proactively identifying bottlenecks can help avoid slow or unresponsive applications that impact users’ productivity and could affect sales, revenue, and brand image.

Why is Oracle database performance tuning important?

Keeping data flowing and users happy is what Oracle database performance tuning is all about. It’s a vital step in optimizing your overall database system to ensure application responsiveness, quick data retrieval, and high availability. The overall goal is to accelerate SQL query response times so that users can more efficiently access, manipulate, and modify data contained in the database.

Oracle offers many supportive tools to help optimize database performance. Even so, Oracle database performance tuning and troubleshooting remains a critical element in eliminating performance issues across various workloads. Database administrators (DBAs) need to proactively eliminate common performance roadblocks through ongoing monitoring, diagnostics, and maintenance.

What happens if you don’t proactively address Oracle database tuning on a routine basis? You end up with slow, inefficient application performance or even unavailable services caused by avoidable factors like inefficient database queries, improper indexing, and poor memory utilization.

Why is Oracle database performance tuning a challenge?

Oracle database performance tuning takes significant skill and experience. Many factors can influence database performance issues. When users report poor application response times, what is the root cause? Is it the way SQL queries are coded? Is the physical server running out of memory? 

It can be hard to know where to start. But checking system-level parameters first is usually advisable, as other tuning steps won’t help much if CPU or disk utilization is the problem. Another recommended early step is analyzing Oracle Optimizer settings and statistics. The Optimizer does its best to decide the most efficient execution plan for queries, but it is not perfect.

A best practice is to establish a performance baseline from historical data. You can see variations and issues more easily when you have context for how metrics are changing. Some baseline statistics to gather include application transaction and response time data, as well as utilization and performance statistics for the virtual operating system, network, and storage. Of course, database performance and utilization statistics are key as well.

What steps are required for Oracle database performance tuning?

Oracle database tuning involves an open-ended set of activities that DBAs perform across both hardware and software to improve database performance from multiple angles. Some common performance-tuning steps include improving indexing, optimizing query efficiency, clustering database servers for better performance and availability, reconfiguring system parameters, and more.

For example, DBAs can find ways to improve Oracle database performance by examining CPU, memory, and disk metrics on the physical servers running your virtualized database workloads. Faster CPUs, more physical memory, and more available disk space will often improve database performance. If you’re seeing overload warning signs like lots of page faults per second, that indicates a chronic out-of-memory condition that will slow query responses.

Another factor to analyze with Oracle database performance tuning is connection pooling. You need to ensure that an application’s database connection is sized appropriately, especially as usage increases. The more connections to a database open and close, the more computing resources are required. Database connection pooling is a technique to reduce the load on the CPU by passing open connections between database operations, instead of closing them and opening new ones. The degree to which connection pooling can help increase database performance depends on multiple factors, such as network latency and database utilization. Considerable fine-tuning may be required to arrive at the ideal connection sizing.

Many DBAs also include data defragmentation as part of their Oracle database performance tuning efforts. Grouping associated data elements together accelerates disk input/output operations so queries can execute faster.

And no Oracle database performance tuning effort would be completely examining the SQL statements that retrieve data. The way SQL queries are written can have a huge impact on database performance. The more an SQL statement is called, the more tuning it can help if it is performing poorly. 

What’s next?

If your business would benefit from improved Oracle database performance, reliability, and scalability, Buda Consulting has expert DBAs and a proven approach that can help. Contact us for a free “database discussion” to explore your Oracle database performance issues, questions, and requirements.