Oracle Session Tracing Part I

This is the first in a series introducing some of the new
tracing concepts and options within Oracle. This installment focuses on the new
CLIENT_IDENTIFIER environment variable that can be assigned to sessions.

The goal of
this series is to inform DBAs on how to track and trace connected sessions so
that they can properly determine where sessions are experiencing performance
problems. This article presents the very important concept of assigning a
client identifier to a session. This client identifier will be used in future articles,
as this will be one way to initiate traces. This article first presents the
issue of why we should use the client identifier and then how we can utilize it
when looking at sessions as they are connected in real time.

To begin, we must first come to grips with the simple concept
of the globalization of sessions within Oracle that occurs. The days of single dedicated
server connections and one connection uniquely identifying a single user are
long gone. Now many middle-tier applications make use of pooling mechanisms
that hide the identity of a connected user or session that does not allow you or
me to adequately track and trace effectively because of the reuse of session
ids. This is where you need to start thinking of defining your own client
identifier for the users that use your database systems. This is just what
Oracle now has and using a client identifier allows you to either further
segregate or consolidate sessions by assigning an identifier that describes the
connection for a particular user or set of users. For example, suppose you have
a development environment where everyone logs in as a particular schema user
and because of the connection mechanisms employed, users will reuse the same
session id sometimes when they connect. Well, if you ever wanted to trace these
sessions to determine who was consuming vast amounts of resources or was
issuing particular SQL, you would be very hard pressed to run a trace and
filter for that user since the high activity would not guarantee any one user
was on a particular session id. This is where you could employ the use of a
client identifier since Oracle now lets us trace and report on a unique client
identifier. To get this going all you need to do is invoke the
DBMS_SESSION.SET_IDENTIFIER procedure when the session logs in. Figure 1 gives a very simplistic method
through a logon trigger, to set the client identifier. You can use anything to
distinguish the session, such as IP address, computer / host name, o/s user, or
a predefined application name. I have made use of the DBMS_CONTXT calls for
user environment information.

Figure 1

Logon trigger to set client_identifier

v_user_identifier varchar2(64);
INTO v_user_identifier
FROM dual;

Now when we look at the V$SESSION view, we can see this
CLIENT_IDENTIFIER set for various sessions. Listing
gives this type of output. Now, if we had the same database user
connect through some polling mechanism, and if we set our client identifier
properly, we have the potential to see a different client identifier. In
addition, if we want to set the same client identifier for a group of users, we
could do that also. There are also methods of setting the client identifier from
within OCI and JDBC.

Listing 1

V$SESSION output

1 SELECT sid, client_identifier,
2 service_name, action, module

———- ——————– ————- ———— ———–
145 jkoopmann: k101 msqry32.exe
146 jkoopmann: k101 mmc.exe
147 jkoopmann: k101 SQL*Plus
156 jkoopmann: k101 slplus.exe

We will get to actually tracing in a future article, but the
columns supplied in the SQL select statement in Listing 1 allow for filtering
of trace statistics. I hope that you can see that by setting
a client identifier, we have just added great power in determining the unknown
users of our database. Through extra tracing options, we can now determine whom
and what is causing problems in our database. Also, note that because this
field can be changed at will, there is nothing to limit you to keeping the same
CLIENT_IDENTIFIER for the life of the session. This may come in handy if your
session actually performs different tasks that distinguish it from other
sessions that originally had the same identifier.

After setting this client identifier, we have already seen
that you may view this setting by a query to the V$SESSION view. You may can
also see the statistics around a particular CLIENT_IDENTIFIER from the
gives a query that we would typically issue to see the historical wait activity
for sessions in the last 30 minutes. Notice that we have the same client
identifier (CLIENT_ID) for each of the rows displayed. This
is fine if you are concerned with only tracking down one session that might be
experiencing high wait times but sometimes you are concerned aboutthe
accumulated wait time that is caused by an application. To answer that question,
we can group on the CLIENT_ID column now to get a summation for a particular
client identifier. This does assume you have set your client identifier to
something more than what I have set mine to, and that it is set to something in
line with the application area of interest. Listing
shows just such a query you might issue to sum total waits for an
application area or in my case user connections across multiple sessions.

Listing 2

Looking at individual session wait activity

select session_id, client_id, event,
sum(wait_time + time_waited) ttl_wait_time
from v$active_session_history active_session_history
where sample_time between sysdate – 60/2880 and sysdate
group by session_id, client_id, event
order by 2;

———- ——————– —————————— ————-
145 jkoopmann: SQL*Net message to client 3
145 jkoopmann: db file scattered read 111167
145 jkoopmann: db file sequential read 59003
145 jkoopmann: direct path read temp 93314
145 jkoopmann: direct path write temp 2
156 jkoopmann: SQL*Net message from client 243192681
160 jkoopmann: db file scattered read 18657
160 jkoopmann: db file sequential read 28141
160 jkoopmann: direct path read temp 4887
160 jkoopmann: direct path write temp 24

Listing 3

Accumulated wait activity for an application area or user
defined area

select client_id, event,
sum(wait_time + time_waited) ttl_wait_time
from v$active_session_history active_session_history
where sample_time between sysdate – 60/2880 and sysdate
group by client_id, event
order by 1;

——————– —————————— ————-
jkoopmann: SQL*Net message from client 243192681
jkoopmann: SQL*Net message to client 3
jkoopmann: db file scattered read 129824
jkoopmann: db file sequential read 115553
jkoopmann: direct path read temp 98201
jkoopmann: direct path write temp 26

In addition, if you ever
find yourself wanting to know what your CLIENT_IDENTIFIER is set to, so that
you can monitor or take some form of logical action within an application, you
need only issue the following SQL.



If you ever wish to clear out the CLIENT_IDENTIFIER for a
session, you need only execute the following procedure.


The use of a CLIENT_IDENTIFIER can come in handy for many
situations where monitoring individual sessions or a group of sessions is
required. It does not matter if those sessions connect to the same session id
or different ones. If you choose your client identifier properly for groups of
applications or users, you can generate true wait related information that
tells you exactly what they have been doing. Stay tuned for more session
tracing in the next part of this series.


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James Koopmann

James Koopmann
James Koopmann
James Koopmann has fourteen years of database design, development and performance tuning experience. In addition, he has extensive database administration experience in Oracle and other relational databases in production environments, specializing in performance tuning of database engines and SQL based applications. Koopmann is an accomplished author with several technical papers in various Oracle related publications such as Oracle Magazine, Oracle Professional and SQL>UPDATE_RMOUG. He is a featured author and database expert for DatabaseJournal, a member of the editorial review committee for Select Journal (The Magazine for the International Oracle Users Group), an Oracle Certified Professional DBA and noted speaker at local Oracle User Groups around the country.

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