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Chapter 3. System View > Start at the Beginning

Start at the Beginning

One of the challenges facing new DTrace users is where to begin. DTrace is an extremely powerful and potentially complex tool; it’s up to you to decide what to do with it. Given that DTrace can examine the entire operating system plus applications, simply picking a starting point for analysis can be daunting. This is especially true when DTrace is used to troubleshoot application and performance problems in production environments, where time is of the essence.

The basic approach to any problem starts with the same first step—defining the problem in terms of something that can be measured. Examples in the domain of performance include transaction response time and time to run batch jobs or other workload tasks. The commonality here is time, a primary metric for quantifying performance issues. Other metrics such as high CPU utilization, low network bandwidth, high disk utilization, and so on, are not performance problems per se; they may be contributing to the actual problem, but first and foremost the problem needs to be defined in the context of what the workload is requesting and how long it is taking, not in terms of the utilization of the components that service it.


  

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