Nowadays, many businesses are run by applications that are automated.  "Most of the transactions run by companies have little to no human intervention, and in fact, machine performance is a factor in business performance," says Mark Kremer, the CEO of Precise, a transaction performance management solution vendor. "And therefore it’s very important for applications to deliver the service at the service levels you’ve designed.” And now, more than ever, organizations must ensure their applications are running correctly and with the best performance possible, or else risk losing their customers to businesses who do just that. "In this economy, where the customers are pretty nervous, you don’t want your website to show a 'Sorry, please visit us later' note," explains Kremer.

And if that wasn’t enough to worry about, DBAs are also being expected to do more with less money and less staff, because of the current state of the economy, and still achieve a high-level of performance. “We know that our customers are worried about performance," says Kremer. "But today they \[worry about\] it in economical terms—they want to run more transactions over the same infrastructure. They know that they have to do the next business cycle without upgrading to the next technology cycle." That’s where transaction performance management comes in. I spoke with Kremer to get his take on the current transaction performance management market and to discuss Precise 8.5, the vendor’s first major product release since becoming an independent company. (Precise was previously part of Symantec, and its product was previously branded Symantec APM.)

So what exactly is transaction performance management and why is it important to DBAs? "Transaction performance management is the ability to track transactions across tiers and basically detect transaction performance glitches," says Kremer. "But then once you detect them, \[you\] have the ability to dive deep into the offending tier in order to resolve the problem at the best MTTR (mean time to repair) you can. This is how the strength of the transaction performance management solution is measured. Precise offers its customers transaction views across tiers and deep dives into tiers with an unprecedented MTTR."

According to Kremer, customers have told Precise that they need to be able to manage their transaction environment using one management product. "TCO is a top of mind issue. Budget cuts usually mean staff cuts, and you’re left after to handle more stuff. Therefore, you need to automate and simplify administration to improve TCO," Kremer says.

In the past, it would take hours or days to troubleshoot performance problems, says Ayad Shammout, the lead technical DBA for Precise customer CareGroup Healthcare System. But his company is now 99 percent proactive using Precise. "We can detect and find some issues and degradation problems with performance even before the end users experience this problem," says Shammout.

Precise 8.5 has been extended to the storage tier and notifies you if moving applications around will cause storage problems. "We can tie a physical device to a logical unit, a logical unit to a database file, a database file to a table, a table to a Java object, a Java object to a URL, a URL to a transaction and then we can tell you up front that you are now clashing with a certain transaction and should move the other application to another unit," explains Kremer. "Or better yet, by looking at our screens you can see who else is sharing the device and not put it there in the first place."

This product lets you manage the transaction performance of composite applications and includes an automated and simplified migration path. Also, Precise will transfer existing Symantec APM support contracts to Precise free of charge under the Precise APM Migration Program. This program also offers new license and upgrade options.

Precise for MSSQL 8.5 supports SQL Server 2000 SP3 and later. Kremer stressed that you don’t have be a SQL Server expert to view the performance of an application running on SQL Server. Precise 8.5 is also the first transaction performance management tool for DB2. For more information about this product, visit Precise’s website