ExtraHop Adds DB2 to Database Performance-Tracking Repertoire
March 22, 2011 Alex Woodie
The capability to track the performance of a database in real time can be a critical success factor, particularly for enterprise applications and large e-commerce websites. One company that’s carving itself a niche in this department, ExtraHop Networks, recently added support for IBM‘s DB2 database management system–including the IBM i variant commonly known as DB2/400–giving the Seattle startup coverage of the most popular types of databases.
ExtraHop was founded four years ago to serve the market for performance management tools. The founders, who hailed from networking product developer F5 Networks, started with the vision that the best way to tackle the application delivery assurance problem was to analyze everything going across the wire–from level 2 to level 7 on the OSI (Open Systems Interconnection) stack–and to do so passively and in real time. Only then could organizations get a complete picture of the state of their networks, applications, databases, and storage devices.
ExtraHop has been selling its appliance-based ExtraHop Application Delivery Assurance offering for just more than two years. Officials there claim that its full-stream reassembly approach to dissecting and analyzing the contents of TCP/IP packets at speeds up to 10 Gbps is unique in the industry and fills a gap left by more traditional tools, including agent-based monitors, SNMP polling tools, TCP-header inspection tools, and NetFlow collection tools.
While ExtraHop’s roots are in the networking space, its focus is primarily on applications. Today’s high speed networks place huge demands on applications and the underlying infrastructures they depend on. To that end, tracking database performance is one of the most important things that ExtraHop does, along with tracking and identifying storage-related performance problems.
Many organizations have blind spots when it comes to tracking the performance of production databases, says ExtraHop senior product manager Tanya Bragin. “When there’s a problem with the database, a database profiler can give you very specific, very deep information about what exactly is happening with the database. However, it also has a lot of impact on a running system,” she tells IT Jungle.
“Our customers have database profilers in development, QA, and test, but at some point they turn them off,” Bragin continues. “They may have agents in production, which are lightweight compared to profilers, but still take up resources. It’s not that people are flying blind, but the coverage in production is spotty, especially in high-scale systems.” Similarly, the method of dumping database transactions to a hard-disk for post-hoc examination is not practical with the volume of data being processed these days, she says.
The software that ExtraHop delivers with its 1U and 2U appliances enable administrators to dig deep into the transaction-level communication occurring between a database server and a client. While other products simply test the speed at which SQL queries are returned over a port, ExtraHop’s full-stream reassembly and content-awareness allow it to look at things like database tables, user names, and SQL statements as ways to help pinpoint the source of problems when they occur, Bragin says.
This approach makes ExtraHop “the ultimate triaging tool,” says marketing director Justin Baker. “We have a client that’s trained 75 people on it. Their database team has it; their storage team has it; and their network team has it,” he says. “Every time there’s a problem, instead of everybody scampering to their own discrete tool, like a database profiler for instance or an SNMP profiler, everyone now goes immediately to ExtraHop. They drill down and say, ‘Oh, it is a database problem. OK, database team, you deploy and go fix it, and everybody goes back to their everyday schedule.'”
Earlier this month, ExtraHop unveiled support for IBM’s DB2 database management system. Previously, the vendor supported other major RDBMs, including Oracle, SQL Server, MySQL, PostgreSQL, and Sybase. The addition of DB2 support gives ExtraHop coverage of 90 percent of the database market, the company claims.
ExtraHop can also analyze the performance of DB2/400 (officially known as DB2 for IBM i), Bragin says. ExtraHop gets access to DB2/400 and DB2 for Linux, Unix, and Windows (DB2 for LUW) via the Distributed Relational Database Architecture (DRDA) protocol. “That’s the protocol that we analyze on the wire,” she says. “It doesn’t mater whether that protocol is coming from a server or a mainframe.”
Any type of enterprise application that is database-dependent can benefit from ExtraHop’s capabilities. Any company that runs a high-volume e-commerce website with volatile loads is a potential customer. ExtraHop currently has about 100 paying customers, including Alaska Airlines, REI, the Seattle Times, Microsoft, and Nucor.
Pricing for the 1U version of ExtraHop’s appliance, which can handle network speeds up to 1 Gbps, starts at $59,000. For more information, see www.extrahop.com.
This article has been corrected. Tanya Bragin’s name was misspelled. IT Jungle regrets the error.