Tales From A Lazy Fat DBA

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Oracle Real Application Testing (RAT) – Part 1: What it is ?

Posted by FatDBA on January 31, 2020

Hi Guys,

As committed I am back with the first edition or the post on Oracle RAT (Real Application Testing) and there be couple more follow up chapters on the same in next few days or weeks.

Alright, recently during one of our mission-critical production database migration we reached a point where we had to perform the Load Test before pushing the real-time workload on to this new system. I was asked to prepare the strategy and to pick the best possible tool to access the performance of the performance of this new system and how it will respond to the current traffic.

Received lot’s of suggestions from rest of the team, i.e. Swingbench, Loadrunner, Orion etc. but most of them are with a predefined set of Supplied Benchmarks though few are customized but are more related to the server performance and bechmarking but not at the Database or SQL level. And considering the notorious behavior of many of the custom code and legacy application modules I was more leaned towards picking a tool which covers both Database and SQL, and we finally agreed on Oracle RAT.

Oracle Real Application Testing, an option that comes with Oracle Enterprise Edition. Oracle Real Application Testing helps you to test the real-life workload after changes on the database such as database upgrades, OS upgrades, parameter changes, hardware replacement, etc. So, in short the Oracle RAT will be system stress test tool to simulate production load. Introduced in Oracle 11g Release 1. But yes, it’s not free and comes with additional cost and licenses.

There are two features “Database Replay” and “SQL Performance Analyzer” will help fine-tuning on the database before passing production.
I will cover more about the ‘Database Replay’ feature here and might cover the ‘SQL Performance Analyzer’ feature later.

When can you use RAT – “Database Replay” feature?
System Changes
– Hardware replacement such as CPU, RAM, etc.
– Database and OS upgrades
– Storage changes (OCFS2 – ASM)
– OS changes (Windows – Linux)
Configuration Changes
– Single Instance – RAC– Patch installation– Database parameter change

Which database versions are supported?
The workload capture process is supported on the Oracle Database 10g R2 ( and above versions. The worload replay process is supported on the Oracle Database 11g R1 and above versions.

How to do it, where to start and all ?
Well there are two different ways you can perform the RAT (DB Replay) testing
– Using Oracle Enterprise Manager (OEM) : This option is entirely GUI based where you select your source and target systems and by doing all those clicks performs this stress/load testing on the system.
– Using command line way (My preferred way of doing this, yes I am ‘old school’) using DBMS_WORKLOAD_CAPTURE & DBMS_WORKLOAD_REPLAY procedures.

Some High Level Steps:
– Capture workload into capture files (In the form of .rec files, are flat files)
– Copy files to test system and preprocess them (to make them machine understandable)
– Replay files on test system (play the recorded files)
– Perform detailed analysis of workload capture and replay using reports generated by Database Replay. (Reporting for bench markings)


Copy the workload files to the client system. For example: – /home/oracle/rat/test1

On TARGET System:
1. dbms_workload_replay.process_capture 
2. dbms_workload_replay.initialize_replay 
3. dbms_workload_replay.prepare_replay 
4. Run the workload client to calibrate the replay. The calibration process (mode=CALIBRATE) recommends the number of client processes required to perform the replay
5. Replay the workload using below command.

Components: The ARCHITECTURE (Simplified)

DB REPLAY “The Big Picture”

What is a Workload Client ?
The REPLAY uses wrc clients – Which are multi-threaded JAVA clients and can be started on the same machine/host or on separate hosts.
Will cover about them more in depth in future posts.

[oracle@PDIXIT:RAT]$ wrc system/XXXX mode=calibrate replaydir=/DBCapture/RAT/RAT_13DEC15_19_17
 Workload Replay Client: Release - Production on Sat Dec 16 05:50:39 2015
Copyright (c) 1982, 2011, Oracle and/or its affiliates.  All rights reserved.
Report for Workload in: /DBCapture/RAT/RAT_13DEC16_19_17
Consider using at least 13 clients divided among 4 CPU(s)
You will need at least 168 MB of memory per client process.
If your machine(s) cannot match that number, consider using more clients.
Workload Characteristics:
- max concurrency: 575 sessions
- total number of sessions: 1729
- 1 client process per 50 concurrent sessions
- 4 client process per CPU
- 256 KB of memory cache per concurrent session
- think time scale = 100
- connect time scale = 100
- synchronization = TRUE

Now how to compare/benchmark ?
At the end of both CAPTURE & REPLAY methods you need to generate few process specific report.
Few of the important files that help in benchmarking are:
AWR Reports: Generate the AWR reports for the same time interval when we have any of the two process were in progress. The BEGIN AND END Snaps can be collected from DBA_WORKLOAD_CAPTURES & DBA_WORKLOAD_REPLAYS
CAPTURE/REPLAY Reports: These reports are specific to workload capture and playing on target.
Capture Vs Replay reports.

Hope It Helps
Prashant Dixit


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