Sunday, June 3, 2007

PerfDat at this year's BootCamp: Another time-saving approch to performance

One of the big treats for me at this year's bootcamp was learning more about the latest versions of the powerful PerfDat performance tool. Even more special was that the developer, Dr. Wolfgang Burger (HP Austria), was there to present it in person in what I considered a virtuoso performance - demonstrating dozens of features and capabilities in a few short hours.

If you care about performance on OpenVMS, and if maintaining performance that meets your service level objectives and requirements is essential, then I believe you will want to learn more about this exceptional and wide-ranging piece of software and consider adding it to your repetoire.

That's exactly what I plan to do myself. I see PerfDat as another tool to complement my growing arsenal of tools that I can then use individually or in combination to tackle the toughest performance challenges.

In particular, it looks like PerfDat is going to play extremely well together with T4. This stands in contrast to what might be considered similar performance tools on the market that do not integrate as well with T4.

For example, PerfDat make it possible to easily upload any T4-style history data you have created into its internally managed database. This means that you can apply PerfDat's powerful database capabilities for selecting data from a long term history. Then use its excellent trend graphing features, easily creating charts that show weeks and months of history.

If you are a fan who appreciates the benefits of the T4 approach, I believe that you will find PerfDat very much to your liking. Within the single tool, it includes features and functions that make it look like a combination of the T4 Collector in History mode, major portions of TLViz' ease of looking at trend data, and significant parts of CSVPNG's ability to manipulate CSV files.

PerfDat will further integrate with the T4 approach since it is possible to select data and then output that data as a 2 dimensional table in T4-style format. These could then be fed into TLViz or CSVPNG so as to take advantage of the continuing strengths of these tools for handling data that is local to your PC.

If you would like more information, a great place to start is this PerfDat - OpenVMS Technical Journal Article. Trial versions of the software kit for OpenVMS, the GUI that runs on Windows, and a full set of documentation can be downloaded from

You'll notice when you get to the download page that the headline is:
HP PerfDat - for people whose time is precious !

So, you won't be surprised why someone who has been talking about the time-saving T4 approach for so many years might be interested. In my eyes, PerfDat, is a new generation in a growing line of Time-saving Trend Tracking Tools that will prove extremely helpful in situations where maintaining proper performance is of mission critical concern.

T4 Sessions at BootCamp - The Many Faces of T4 continued

Thanks to Pat McConnell (OpenVMS Engineering) for orchestrating and organizing the two half- day T4 sessions at this year's OpenVMS Technical BootCamp.

Bootcamp attendees were able to see and hear examples of different ways of applying a T4 approach to their particular performance problems.

Here's a list some highlights of these two sessions. If you would like more information about any of these topics, you can contact me here.

  • Pat McConnell demonstrated how easy it is to install T4 and get it up and running
  • Kevin Jenkins walked us through a series of challenging examples and showed us how he uses TLViz to dig into the toughest problems.
  • Tom Cafarella gave us an update on the latest developments with T4 V4.2
  • Melanie Hubbard brought us up to date on the latest developments with OTLT - the Oracle Time Line Tool including how to acquire the most recent version from Oracle Metalink
  • Bart Lederman shared his system manager experience of putting T4 into practice in a very large computer center with literally dozens of OpenVMS systems. He focused on how he step by step augmented the out of the box capabilities of T4 by customizing the DCL scripts, adding automation to avoid repeating the same steps on each system, and adding a series of very useful new T4-style collectors.
  • John Fisher illustrated how he used the most advanced features of both TLViz and CSVPNG to tackle really complex problems involving OpenVMS and EVA storage.
  • Steve Lieman presented on the latest improvements to TLViz and CSVPNG and how these are focused on saving our time.
  • While we ran out of time to present it, BootCamp attendees were able to download a copy of Pat McConnell's excellent presentation showing what is required to create new T4-style CSV files that will work well with TLViz and CSVPNG.
Summing up the T4 Experience at This Year's BootCamp
The first main thought that came across to me after watching all these individual segments (not to mention the additional material from the special T4 projects workshop) was the ease at which the T4 universe of tools could be readily adopted to the strengths and interests of the person using these tools and the type of problem they are trying to solve.

Each person's approach was both different and effective. I am hoping that those attending the bootcamp were able to come away with a number of new ideas for a mix of styles that they can add to their personal T4 repertoire.

The second major thought from watching all these different approaches was that in each case, the T4 tool set had directly unlocked significant time-savings for doing the performance work at hand. This of course is consistent with the design center for the T4 approach which has always been and still remains focused on saving our time. T4 always treats our time as the scarcest, most precious resource.

T4 Special Topic Session at BootCamp - The Many Faces of T4

On Friday, May 18th, we assembled, at the last minute, a wide-ranging ensemble of mystery guest speakers for an all day, pre-bootcamp T4 special topics workshop. We were blessed to have a wide range of speakers who helped reveal the many faces of T4 and the many different ways it can be used and how it can be a helpful asset when carrying out important performance projects.

Speakers included:
  • Hein van den Heuvel - showing the ways that he magnifies the out of the box capabilities of T4 through cleverly programmed use of DCL, PERL, and CSVPNG to take on a range of different customer problems.
  • Kevin Jenkins - covering a wide range of examples showing step by step exactly how he has used T4 and TLViz to zoom in on the most challenging customer performance problems arriving at his desk in OpenVMS Sustaining Engineering.
  • Tom Cafarella and Pat McConnell updated us on the latest developments for T4 V4.2 and TLViz.
  • Colin Butcher gave us an advanced look at the Talk he is going to give at the upcoming CMG UK conference about how he approaches performance problems and then showed how he used T4 & TLViz to dig into the performance problems that he has face.
I thank all of these special mystery guest speakers for responding to the call for participation in this event at such short notice. Thanks also to the terrific group of attendees who had sped through the Porting to Integrity Workshop thereby freeing up their Friday for attendance at the T4 session. And of course, special thanks to Sue Skonetski for finding this additional venue for presenting this extra T4 material. There was just not enough time to fit all the T4 content and all the T4 speakers who were interested into the two half day slots that were already planned for the BootCamp week.

Rounding out the day and complementing the guest speaker presentations, I presented three segments:
  • the first demonstrating the powerful new features that Pat McConnell has added to TLViz and in particular focusing on how these new features could save us time during analysis,
  • the second laying out the case for why it is so useful to build new T4-style collectors and how easy it is to integrate such new data into the existing T4 framework, and
  • the third wrapping up the day with a short talk on PAL - the performance audit litany - (which nicely complemented Colin's talk) and how the PAL approach could be used to to insure that we avail ourselves of proper and full context before we begin to dig into any T4 or other performance data we have collected.
If you missed out on this last minute event and want to learn more about the topics that were only covered that day, please drop me a line.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Boot Camp Performance Track Abstracts

To complement the OpenVMS Technical Boot Camp Performance Track Schedule we recently posted, here's the link to the corresponding Performance Track Abstracts for just those sessions that focus exclusively on performance or those sessions that are likely to have some significant performance related content.

You may find this a convenient way to figure out which of these many performance related sessions is going to prove most helpful to your needs.

For those interested in OpenVMS performance, the Boot Camp May 20-25 is definitely going to be the place to be. Hope to see you there.

Breaking News: Special T4 Workshop Friday May 18th

For those arriving early for the boot camp, an additional T4 & Friends session has been scheduled as a full day, hands-on workshop.

Date: Friday May 18th

Place: HP's ZKO-3 facility, Spitbrook Road, Nashua NH

For full details, please check out the session abstract


Extending T4 Beyond OpenVMS - Audio Tip #7 now available

The newest edition of the VMS Audio Update (VAU #9) is now available from This editions includes a new segment with the latest T4 Audio Tip (#7) focusing on how to easily and profitably extend the T4 approach beyond OpenVMS by designing and building new collectors.

The full collection T4 Audio Tips are available individually for listening or for download from Trends That Matter — Audio Downloads.

Latest version of CSVPNG now available

Version 1.0-123 of CSVPNG (09-MAY-2007) is now available for download from the Trends that Matter Tools Download Page.

This includes the latest improvements and bug fixes as documented in the csvpng_changelog.txt document included in the kit.

The most recent version of TLViz and the TLViz started kit are also available from the same download page.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Extending the T4 Approach to New Territory

Here's the link to the second T4 related session (Extending-T4-beyond-OpenVMS) that I recently delivered at the Decus Conference in Nuremberg, Germany.

This session focused on what was required to extend the T4 approach beyond OpenVMS to deal with the complexity of other system elements. It included a partial listing of the more than 20 T4-style collectors that have already be created and showed the straightforward step by step approach required to build and benefit from even more new T4-style collectors.

The session also included answers to the question of why extending the T4 approach makes sense and pays off with radical time-saving and productivity enhancements and with much improved ability to integrate data from multiple sources to handle the most complex problems.

A highlight of this for me was the all too brief Put Me on the Spot portion that wrapped up the session by asking the attendees: what one performance challenge are you currently facing that's giving you a hard time? and then discussed specific ways in which the full range of the T4 approach might be brought to bear to uncover and visualize the currently invisible patterns that might hold the key to the solution.

We will be covering much of this material in the T4 sessions planned for the upcoming OpenVMS Technical Bootcamp in Nashua, NH, May 20th-25th. Hope to see you there. We've found that the best way to understand the T4 & Friends approach is to see it live and in action.

I invite you to bring your hardest problem and take a Put Us on the Spot challenge. Over the course of the Boot Camp week, there should be plenty of opportunity and time for the T4 team to to help you discover the ways that T4 can help you the most with your specific issues.

If you would like to get started early, you can contact me via email here.

Latest T4 Enhacements presentation at German Decus Conference

Here's a link to my recent presentation on the latest T4 enhancements from the just completed German Decus Conference held in Nuremberg.

Attendance at the OpenVMS track sessions was strong and there seems to be a continuing interest in the T4 & Friends approach to performance.

At the upcoming OpenVMS Technical Bootcamp set for May 20th-25th in Nashua, NH, there will be another chance to learn about these most recent improvements to the T4 & Friends suite of tools during the two planned T4 sessions set for Monday and Tuesday morning. Hope to see you all there because the best ways to understand the enhancements in tools such as TLViz and CSVPNG is to see them in action.

If you would like to have copies of the latest versions of TLViz and CSVPNG, you can download them here.

As we noted in this earlier post, this year's bootcamp is going to be awash in a wide variety of great performance sessions. I'll be updating the performance track write up soon and posting it here to take into account the latest adjustments in the agenda, bios and abstracts.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

VPN - The VMS Podcast Network

Here's the link to the main page of's VMS Podcast Network or VPN.

If you have suggestions for future T4 & Friends podcast topics, please let me know.

I'll be updating the Audio Download page at with the title of each T4 & Friends episode to make it easier for you to find the podcast you want.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Amazing Performance Track Set for the Upcoming OpenVMS Boot Camp

The 2007 OpenVMS Technical Boot Camp is set for May 20th through 25th.

There are going to be an amazing number of performance sessions and sessions with significant performance content at this year’s boot camp. For those interested in OpenVMS performance, I have created an abbreviated agenda that shows just the performance track sessions.

You can find the performance track agenda as a pdf at:


or here as a Word doc


I hope you find this useful for helping you navigate through all the available sessions. This way, you can plan your week so you don’t miss out on any of the performance sessions that are going to be most helpful to you.

If you haven’t already signed up for the boot camp, this is your chance to get to listen to an array of legendary speakers covering more than a dozen different ways to look at OpenVMS performance. Take a quick scan of the speaker name column and the session titles and you will see what I mean.

If you are interested in OpenVMS performance and especially if you are interested in learning more about the T4 & Friends approach to performance, I am looking forward to meeting you during the week. You can find me as one of the co-speakers in the two T4 sessions given early in the week and at the Partner’s Roundhouse.

Best regards,

Steve Lieman

Note: This performance track document was created from the full and complete preliminary boot camp agenda which can be found here. Changes will happen. The final agenda will be published as soon as possible. Please check the Bootcamp Home Page to keep up with the latest changes. Here are some other links you might find handy.

» All session abstracts

» All speaker bios

Updated: 27 April 2007 with link to Pdf version. Hat tip to Colin Butcher for this suggestion

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Audio Segments on T4 & Friends

Since the beginning of the year and starting with Episode 3, I have been contributing regular audio segments on a variety of T4 & Friends subjects to the new VMS Audio Update (VAU) published at OpenVMS.ORG where you can find all the full VAU episodes and program notes. Each one runs about 30 minutes and the T4 segments are typically about 6-10 minutes long.

If you are interested in T4 and in leveraging the power of your most important system performance trend data, I hope you will find this audio approach fun and informative.

If you would like to listen to the T4 segments again or several segments all at once, you can now find these as standalone MP3 audio sessions at:'s Audio page.

If you have suggestions for future sessions, please let me know.

You can find more information about the professional performance and trend analysis services offered by at our home web page.

We will be using this Trends That Matter blog for the latest news and updates in the world of T4 & Friends, and for related developments of tools and methods for making the best use of trend data.