Two Essential Tools for Diagnosing E-Business Suite Network Issues

Network problems seem to be on the rise again, either due to the increase in service demands, integration of different technologies such as Voice Over IP (VoIP), and the inevitable increases in uptake of technologies at new locations. Not only do network administrators have to concern themselves with various WAN optimization techniques, but they also have to deal with ad-hoc problems as they occur. As we all know too well, intermittent problems are the most difficult and resource intensive to address.

Network Diagnostic Tools for Oracle E-Business Suite

There are two diagnostic tools available in the Oracle E-Business Suite:
  • The Network test Form - available in all versions
  • The Client Analyzer - introduced in 11.5.10
Commonly, many people have found it difficult to understand the output of these tools and how they can be used to troubleshoot network problems. The Oracle E-Business Suite Network Utilities white paper explains:
  • How these two utilities work - they actually test a "form round trip"
  • How to understand the figures and what they tell you 
  • How end-users can help narrow down the source of problems and even identify which part of the system is not performing
Getting Into the Details

This last point needs a little more explanation, as this previously underused form now becomes an additional tool in a holistic approach to system performance troubleshooting. The techniques in the paper show the following:
  • How end users can gather diagnostic information saving the time and expense of deploying specialized personnel
  • How to compare the E-Business Suite measurements with standard network utilities such as ping
  • How to interpret the information to isolate a problem to the network, middle tier, or other system component.
The techniques do not require specialized skills and therefore much progress can be made towards identifying the root cause of the problem by junior system administration staff and suitably experienced end-users. Understanding the purpose of the tools and how to interpret their output enables end-users to collect the requisite diagnostic information and perform rudimentary diagnosis when performance problems occur. Inevitably, this means that this reduces the load on the support infrastructure as well as freeing up having to wait for hours for a problem to occur.

In addition to showing example usage of the tools, the paper presents sample output for users to compare with their own measurements, and thereby draw conclusions more quickly and effectively.

The chart below shows an example of how the Network Test form measurement maps to the network ping time.

Form Measured Latency Chart: Chart showing simulated Forms Measured Latency vs Actual Network Latency

By comparing the Network Test form measurement with the network ping time, you can identify:
  • If there is a problem in the network
  • If there is a problem in the middle tier
  • If there is a problem in the network and middle tier
  • Or Whether there is a problem in another system component
A couple of important points ......
  • Understand the limitations of these tools
  • Know which figures to use and how much they can be expected to fluctuate in a given scenario
  • If ping (ICMP) traffic is blocked for security reasons, the paper describes two Linux utilities that could be used to measure the network ping time
References
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