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AAS or Average Number Of Active Sessions – The first thing to look in an AWR & its Uses.

Posted by FatDBA on January 27, 2018

Hi All,

Today’s post is all about answering the question ‘What is the very first thing that one should look out for in an AWR report ?‘. I have got this question so many times in the past about the first statistic i prefer to look at when troubleshooting a performance problem so though of answering this by writing this post with some real-time examples.

And the answer is ‘AAS‘ or ‘Average Number of Active Sessions’ is the first thing that i always look out for while reading AWR reports because It gives you a quick idea about how busy the system is and about the workload happening.

Okay so first lets understand what is an ‘Active Session’ : In simple words It is a session currently spending time in the database (i.e. from v$session where status=’ACTIVE’).
Now, what exactly is AAS – It’s the ratio or rate of change of DB time over clock time. The value of this metric is calculated by using a standard formula of (DB Time/Elapsed Time).

Lets calculate the value for one of the system.

Host Name	        Platform	       CPUs   
dixitLab1.fatdba.com	Linux x86 64-bit	16

AAS In this case : 1024.72/60.04 => 17.067 of average active sessions during the snap interval of an hour.

Let’s further decode the magical Figures of AAS.
We always use CPU Count as a standard for comparing the AAS. Few rule of thumbs while doing this comparison are give below.
– If the AAS is higher than the number of CPU you have then there is a problem. i.e In above example we have an AAS value of 17 and CPU
count 16, hence we could have performance problems and needs investigation.
– If the value is very high than the number of CPUs then there is a choke-point in the database.

You could also use the AAS to plot your graphs, lines and Manhattan’s as one of the axis to compare it with CPU consumption and quickly pin point the pain areas and time slots. Let understand and use it through a scenario.

Assume one fine day you got a call from monitoring team that they have observed huge spikes in system resource usage and many of the other metrics set on the dashboard are in red. And as usual lot’s of fingers and eyes started pointing towards you and the DBA team.

Now you as a DBA quickly generated the AWR for that specific time frame to understand the system behavior and performance and observed a huge workload is happening on the database with AAS of 305 (For a 2 Node RAC database with 128 CPUs collectively) and some huge peaks for Application class (i.e. row lock contentions etc.), User IO classified waits (i.e. DBF Sequential Reads, read by other session etc.) and some Network class waits (i.e SQL*Net message from dblink waits) in your database.

Now you want to understand the trend for wait classes for the database during last few days. Here you can use DBA_HIST_ACTIVE_SESSION_HISTORY view to collect historical statistics for the database which you will use to plot charts using excel, tableau etc.

I have collected similar stats using ASH view and have plotted a graph using few of my data representation tools to understand this transient variation in system performance.

Here you see a sudden spike in DB wait Classes (Specially User IO, Cluster, Application and Network) on March 5th with average number of active sessions (AAS) stacked for both of RAC nodes was close around 305. Which if compare it with number of total CPUs (64+64=128) is extremely high.

After further investigation you understand that it’s application class wait ‘enq: TX – row lock contention‘ which is the primary cause of this high system resources utilization.

Below graph is a representation of AAS Waiting on Application class event ‘enq: TX – row lock contention’ per Instance on the database where we can the same happening. A constant then a sudden raise in row locking contentions.

And you have identified the major sources contributing towards this row locking during the probe period of last 7 days till now. You can do a join on dba_hist_active_sess_history and dba_hist_snapshot to get this historical information — Read my previous article on how to get this past information from AWR repository.

Now when you have narrowed down the problem and have identified the problematic SQLs with their total contribution, you can now start the query optimization/tuning to fix the issue.
There are lot of other data representations you can do by using AAS as one of the graph axis i.e. AAS on CPU and Top Wait Events and will discuss in my further posts.

Hope It Helps
Prashant Dixit

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2 Responses to “AAS or Average Number Of Active Sessions – The first thing to look in an AWR & its Uses.”

  1. Ritul Rastogi said

    amazing article…thanks sir πŸ™‚ keep on sharing πŸ™‚

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