SuperAgent and Siebel

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1 SuperAgent and Siebel Executive summary Siebel Systems provides a comprehensive family of multichannel ebusiness applications services, all within a single architecture. The Siebel architecture is an n-tier (multi-tiered) application system, consisting of several service and access components on a central database management system. The distributed nature of n-tier systems allows for a powerful collection of application services to be delivered to end-users. This is accomplished by committing explicit resources to important processes and applications. Typical traffic flow in an n-tier system consists of clients that access services on one system, which then requests services from one or more other systems. These systems may be on different physical servers, on different LANs, or may be at remote locations connected by WAN links. The distributed nature of n-tier systems increases the difficulty of troubleshooting performance problems because issues can be related to any number of entities that span the enterprise network. Given this complex architecture, IT departments can benefit from a toolset that can identify and isolate performance problems as well as assist in implementing and supporting n-tier systems such as Siebel Systems applications. This paper will explore the components of Siebel s n-tiered application suite, the intricacies in identifying response time issues within n-tiered architectures, and an approach to identifying and resolving response time problems using SuperAgent. Siebel in the enterprise The Siebel architecture is pictured in Figure 1. Typical of n-tier architectures, it is a system of interlocking application and management modules that span a heterogeneous environment of server platforms (such as Windows NT, Unix) and client models (such as Thin Client for Windows, HTML Thin Client, and Java Thin Client). Figure 1. Example Siebel Architecture Page 1

2 The major Siebel architecture components are described below. Siebel Gateway: The Siebel Gateway Server manages access to the Enterprise Server and provides enhanced security, load balancing and high availability. The two services that operate within the Gateway Server are the Name Server and Connection Brokering. The Gateway Server provides name services and load balancing (when the optional Resonate patch is installed) for the Siebel Enterprise Server. Siebel Enterprise Server: A logical collection of Siebel component services consisting of the Siebel Gateway Server, the Siebel Name Server, the Siebel load balancer (Resonate), and the Siebel Server(s). Servers in this collection share the same database (DB) and table owners. Siebel Server: Provides interactive and batch mode processing to Siebel clients via management of the Siebel application. A Siebel Server may be contained within the same physical server as the Siebel Gateway or may stand alone and be connected to the Gateway Server via a TCP/IP connection. Siebel Database Server: The central data store of the Enterprise Server. The DB Server maintains customer data table sets, and responds to queries made by Siebel Servers or end user Siebel Clients. Siebel File System: Contains literature, documents, and attachments that are not efficiently stored within DB tables. The Siebel File System can run on the same physical box as the DBMS or a Siebel Server, or may be installed on stand-alone hardware. Siebel Web Server Extension: Provides HTML access to Siebel HTML clients via the Siebel Web Extension. The Siebel Web Server should run on the same box as the web service. Typical data flow in a Siebel environment occurs when a Siebel client makes an application request to the Siebel Name Server. The Siebel Name Server stores information about all the parameters that determine the configuration and operation of the Enterprise Server. It also keeps track of the availability of the components throughout the Siebel enterprise. The Siebel Name Server will assign the task to a Siebel Server that is running the requested application. The Siebel Server may spawn a query to a database server to retrieve information for transmission to the end user. The network topology traversed by such a request may involve one or more WAN links, several LAN switches and links between gateways and servers, and the additional processing time of secondary and tertiary requests to task-specific servers. Multi-tier systems and performance problem identification Three main issues can make it difficult to predict, identify, isolate, and troubleshoot performance problems in n-tier application suites such as Siebel: The distributed and interdependent nature of multi-tier systems span heterogeneous network technologies such as WAN links and routers, LAN links and switches, load balancing servers, application servers, database servers, web servers, and file servers. Problems can occur in any of these segments. IT departments can have separate teams responsible for each of the network technologies identified above. Efforts to isolate n-tier application problems are hampered by logistical, communication, technical, and administrative problems. Current performance analysis tools are difficult to deploy and maintain. Few tools exist that can isolate the application response times of the various network, server, and application components. The scope and location of the problem are hard to determine. Page 2

3 Because of the complex architecture, an initial dilemma in solving n-tier performance problems involves the efficient assignment of the appropriate IT team to identify and resolve the problem(s). As each IT team has a different view into the network, correlating problem symptoms with likely culprits can be difficult and time consuming. Often, the performance problem analysis may pass through several IT teams before causal elements are identified. Senior IT managers report they regularly dispatch teams of 5-10 people for multiple weeks just to identify the source of the problem. The delay involved in passing the problem from IT team to IT team wastes valuable time, resources, and money while decreasing end user satisfaction. The complex nature of the data flow from end-to-end requires the use of a toolset capable of tracking the information path and differentiating the key bottleneck areas or network, server, and application. SuperAgent a passive, server-side response time analyzer SuperAgent is a passive server-side monitor that analyzes response-time behavior for TCP applications, such as Siebel. As a passive monitor, it measures real user behavior with no additional load on the network or servers. As a server-side monitor, there is no need to deploy agents at the client sites greatly reducing management headaches. SuperAgent mitigates the issues of problem identification and IT team assignment by providing immediate empirical information as to the nature of the problem. It helps answer an initial troubleshooting question is it the network, server or application? The answer is provided by SuperAgent s unique ability to separate response times into discrete components and reporting them in easy-to-read graphs. The component times SuperAgent identifies are: Server response time the time it takes for a server to initially respond to a request from a client Data transfer time the total time it takes a server to fill a client request Network round trip time the time it takes for data to travel between the client and the server on the network Retransmission delay the amount of time data must be retransmitted due to packet loss By breaking down the network delay into these four categories, IT departments can quickly identify the nature and location of the performance problems associated with Siebel or other monitored applications. The ability to isolate the scope, type and location of the problem can save enterprises valuable time and thousand of dollars on each occurrence of performance problems. SuperAgent s intelligent performance algorithms were written explicitly to take the traffic on a network and perform this complex analysis. This analysis enables IT departments to baseline their networks, implement SLAs, set alarm conditions, and build application performance reports across multiple scenarios. Page 3

4 Using SuperAgent to assess the Siebel environment Overview In Siebel s multi-tier architecture, a SuperAgent appliance can be placed next to the Siebel Enterprise Server. It can analyze the response times between Siebel servers and end-use clients, as well as between Siebel component servers and database servers. SuperAgent can instantly provide the following information about the Siebel architecture: Connection setup time to identify how long it takes for a client to initiate a TCP session with a server Differentiated client region response times between diverse servers to assist in isolation of affected regions and network elements Response times between component servers to identify latency contribution per server Response times between a server and the DBMS system to measure the efficiency of communication between processes Response times between dedicated clients, the DBMS, and Siebel File Systems to identify common problem areas Transaction response times to correlate transaction size with latency Load balancing efficiency between different physical Siebel Servers The above information can be used to identify how each component of the Siebel architecture is interacting with the other components in the Siebel environment across the network and their contribution to performance problems. Pre-deployment testing A key to the successful rollout of new applications is the ability to test, measure, and predict the behavior of the application once it has been implemented within a production network. SuperAgent can be used to assist IT departments in determining the best architecture for the rollout of Siebel applications by measuring application performance over given scenarios in test environments. Such measurements can directly show the optimum network topology and server placement. As the application is published into the production network, SuperAgent can confirm the data points and measure the actual end user response times. Siebel production environment monitoring The following graphs are an example of an actual customer installation where SuperAgent is monitoring a problem in the Siebel application environment. The monitored environment includes a WAN link between remote users and Siebel servers. The graphs demonstrate how SuperAgent can isolate whether delays are due to the network or application. Page 4

5 The first graph (Figure 2) details the network round trip time (the amount of time it takes for data to travel between the client and the server on the network). The graph shows that the typical network round trip time is just more than 225 milliseconds. Figure 2. Network round trip time When the data transfer time graph (Figure 3 below) is analyzed (the total time it takes a server to fill a client request), it shows the amount of latency due application processing and interaction with the network. Figure 3. Data transfer time delay A comparison of the two graphs shows the majority of response time issues as seen by the end users are due to latency in the network versus Siebel application processing time. Traffic prioritization with Weighted Fair Queuing (WFQ), with precedence given to the Siebel traffic, is one way of addressing the performance problem and overcoming the slow WAN link without having to perform an expensive upgrade of the circuit. SuperAgent can be used to set network and application performance baselines. After baselines are done, thresholds of acceptable response times across the Siebel environment can be set. If such thresholds are exceeded, SuperAgent can send alarms and traps to notify IT teams of possible performance problems before they impact end users. Such a proactive approach can greatly increase productivity and end user satisfaction. Analysis can be done over a user-defined period of time using customized reports. Standard reports contain daily, weekly, and monthly views of component performance times. It is important to note, however, that SuperAgent stores historical performance data. The historical data allows current performance to be compared to performance for customer specified periods. This analysis can help establish if the problem being experienced is a recent problem or part of a performance degradation trend. Conclusion SuperAgent provides key metrics that allow IT departments to successfully implement, support, and troubleshoot the multi-tiered nature of Siebel. SuperAgent provides empirical, non-intrusive data that distinguishes and reports response time components that are critical to successfully maintaining a Siebel environment. Page 5 NETWORKSUPERVISION Fluke Networks P.O. Box 777, Everett, WA USA Fluke Networks operates in more than 50 countries worldwide. To find your local office contact details, go to Fluke Corporation. All rights reserved. Printed in U.S.A. 10/ A-US-N Rev A

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