Document revision date: 19 July 1999
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OpenVMS Performance Management

OpenVMS Performance Management

Order Number: AA--R237B--TE

January 1999

This manual is a conceptual and tutorial guide for experienced users responsible for optimizing performance on OpenVMS systems.

Revision/Update Information: This manual supersedes the OpenVMS Performance Management, OpenVMS Alpha Version 7.1 and OpenVMS VAX Version 7.1.

Software Version: OpenVMS Alpha Version 7.2
OpenVMS VAX Version 7.2

Compaq Computer Corporation
Houston, Texas

January 1999

Compaq Computer Corporation makes no representations that the use of its products in the manner described in this publication will not infringe on existing or future patent rights, nor do the descriptions contained in this publication imply the granting of licenses to make, use, or sell equipment or software in accordance with the description.

Possession, use, or copying of the software described in this publication is authorized only pursuant to a valid written license from Compaq or an authorized sublicensor.

Compaq conducts its business in a manner that conserves the environment and protects the safety and health of its employees, customers, and the community.

© Compaq Computer Corporation 1999. All rights reserved.

The following are trademarks of Compaq Computer Corporation: Alpha, Compaq, ACMS, Bookreader, CI, DECdirect, DECdtm, DECnet, DECwindows, DIGITAL, HSC, MSCP, OpenVMS, VAX, VAXcluster, VMS, and the Compaq logo.

The following are third-party trademarks:

Motif is a registered trademark of Open Software Foundation, Inc.

All other trademarks and registered trademarks are the property of their respective holders.


The OpenVMS documentation set is available on CD-ROM.

This document was prepared using VAX DOCUMENT, Version V3.2n.

Contents Index


This manual presents techniques for evaluating, analyzing, and optimizing performance on a system running OpenVMS. Discussions address such wide-ranging concerns as:

The manual includes detailed procedures to help you evaluate resource utilization on your system and to diagnose and overcome performance problems resulting from memory limitations, I/O limitations, CPU limitations, human error, or combinations of these. The procedures feature sequential tests that use OpenVMS tools to generate performance data; the accompanying text explains how to evaluate it.

Whenever an investigation uncovers a situation that could benefit from adjusting system values, those adjustments are described in detail, and hints are provided to clarify the interrelationships of certain groups of values. When such adjustments are not the appropriate or available action, other options are defined and discussed.

Decision-tree diagrams summarize the step-by-step descriptions in the text. These diagrams should also serve as useful reference tools for subsequent investigations of system performance.

This manual does not describe methods for capacity planning, nor does it attempt to provide details about using OpenVMS RMS features (hereafter referred to as RMS). Refer to the Guide to OpenVMS File Applications for that information. Likewise, the manual does not discuss DECnet for OpenVMS performance issues, because the DECnet-Plus for OpenVMS Network Management manual provides that information.

Intended Audience

This manual addresses system managers and other experienced users responsible for maintaining a consistently high level of system performance, for diagnosing problems on a routine basis, and for taking appropriate remedial action.

Document Structure

This manual is divided into 13 chapters and 4 appendixes, each covering a related group of performance management topics as follows:

Related Documents

For additional information on the topics covered in this manual, you can refer to the following documents:

For additional information on the Open Systems Software Group (OSSG) products and services, access the OpenVMS World Wide Web address: 

Reader's Comments

Compaq welcomes your comments on this manual.

Print or edit the online form SYS$HELP:OPENVMSDOC_COMMENTS.TXT and send us your comments by:
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How To Order Additional Documentation

Use the following World Wide Web address to order additional documentation:

If you need help deciding which documentation best meets your needs, call 800-DIGITAL (800-344-4825).


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Chapter 1
Performance Management

Managing system performance involves being able to evaluate and coordinate system resources and workload demands.

A system resource is a hardware or software component or subsystem under the direct control of the operating system, which is responsible for data computation or storage. The following subsystems are system resources:

In addition to this manual, specific cluster information can be found in the Guidelines for OpenVMS Cluster Configurations and the OpenVMS Cluster Systems.

Performance management means optimizing your hardware and software resources for the current work load. This involves performing the following tasks:

To help you understand the scope and interrelationship of these issues, this chapter deals with the following topics:

Because many different networking options are available, network I/O is not formally covered in this manual. General performance concepts discussed here apply to networking, and networking should be considered within the scope of analyzing any system performance problem. You should consult the documentation available for the specific products that you have installed for specific guidelines concerning configuration, monitoring, and diagnosis of a networking product.

Similarly, database products are extremely complex and perform much of their own internal management. The settings of parameters external to OpenVMS may have a profound effect upon how efficiently OpenVMS is used. Thus, reviewing server application specific-material is a must if you are to efficiently understand and resolve a related performance issue.

1.1 System Performance Management Guidelines

Even if you are familiar with basic concepts discussed in this section, there are some details discussed that are specific to this process, so please read the entire section.

1.1.1 The Performance Management Process

Long term measurement and observation of your system is key to understanding how well it is working and is invaluable in identifying potential performance problems before they become so serious that the system grinds to a halt and it negatively affects your business. Thus, performance management should be a routine process of monitoring and measuring your systems to assure good operation through deliberate planning and resource management.

Waiting until a problem cripples a system before addressing system performance is not performance management, rather it is crisis management. Performance management involves systematically measuring the system, gathering and analyzing the data, evaluating trends, and archiving data to maintain a performance history. You will often observe trends and thus be able to address performance issues before they become serious and adversely affect your business operations. Should an unforeseen problem occur, your historical data will likely prove invaluable for pinpointing the cause and rapidly and efficiently resolving the problem. Without past data from your formerly well-running system, you may have no basis upon which to judge the value of the metrics you can collect on your currently poorly running system. Without historical data you are guessing; resolution will take much longer and cost far more.

Upgrades and Reconfigurations

Some systems are so heavily loaded that the cost of additional functionality of new software can push the system beyond the maximum load that the system was intended to handle and thus deliver unacceptable response times and throughput. If your system is running near its limit now during peak workload periods, you want to ensure that you take the steps necessary to avoid pushing your system beyond its limits when you cannot afford it.

If your system is anything but a finely tuned, well-running machine, you are advised to use caution when considering changes to anything. If you have observed users complaining about slow response times, erratic system behavior, unexplained system pauses, hangs, or crashes, your system is already being pushed to, or beyond, its original designed capacity. If this is the case, you need a performance audit to determine your current workload and the resources necessary to adequately support your current and possibly future workloads. Implementing changes not specifically designed to increase such a system's capacity or reduce its workload can degrade performance further. Thus, investing in a performance audit will pay off by delivering you a more reliable, productive, available, and lower maintenance system.

Remember that there are likely many factors involved in upgrades and reconfigurations that will contribute to increased resource consumption. Keep in mind that future workloads that your system will be asked to support may be unforseeable due to changes in the system, workload, and business.

Blind reconfiguration without measurement, analysis, modification, and contingency plans can result in serious problems. Significant increases in CPU, disk, memory, and LAN utilization demand serious consideration, measurement, and planning for additional workload and upgrades.

1.1.2 Conducting a Performance Audit

A number of steps should be carried out to evaluate whether your systems are viable candidates for proposed changes, identify modifications that must be made, if any, and assure that changes, planned for and implemented, deliver expected results. Those steps are outlined here.

Characterizing CPU, disk, memory, and LAN utilization on the systems under consideration before reconfiguration is as important as, if not more important than, measuring system activity after installation. Adding segments and redistributing load may be critical to successful implementation with minimal impact. Without scientific measurement before installation and modification, as well as after, you will not acquire the data necessary to understand, plan for, and resolve potential problems in the immediate as well as distant future.

  1. There are no hard and fast rules other than this: measure, plan, understand, test, and confirm. Measurements should be done for one week, if not longer, before installing your network to understand how system workloads vary.
  2. Workloads follow business cycles which often vary predictably throughout the day, the week, the month, and the year. Planners should take into account these variations which may be affected by financial and legal deadlines as well as seasonal factors such as holidays and other cyclic activity.
  3. Seek to identify periods of peak heavy loads (relatively long periods of heavy load lasting approximately five or more minutes). Understanding their frequency and the factors affecting them is key to successful system planning and management.

Peak Workloads and the Cyclic Nature of Workloads

You must first identify periods of activity during which you cannot afford to have system performance degrade and then measure overall system activity during these periods.

These periods will vary from system to system minute to minute, hour to hour, day to day, week to week, and month to month. Holidays and other such periods are often significant factors and should be considered. These periods depend upon the business cycles that the system is supporting.

If the periods you have identified as critical cannot be measured at this time, then measurements taken in the immediate future will have to be used as the basis for estimates of the activity during those periods. In such cases you will have to take measurements in the near term and make estimates based on the data you collect in combination with other data such as order rates from the previous calendar month or year, as well as projections or forecasts. But you must keep in mind that factors other than CPU may become a bottleneck and slow the system down. For example, a fixed number of assistants can only process so many orders per hour, regardless of the number of callers waiting on the phone for service.

1.2 Strategies and Procedures

This manual describes several strategies and procedures for evaluating performance, evaluating system resources, and diagnosing resource limitations as shown in the following list:

1.3 System Manager's Role

As a system manager, you must be able to do the following:

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