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Author's profile photo Jason Hinsperger

From the Archives: I Don’t Have Any Silver Bullets

This post was originally written by Glenn Paulley and published in May of 2008 on  While old, this question still comes up and the same answer still applies today.

I don’t keep detailed statistics about this, but I reckon that somewhere between 2 and 4 times a month I receive a request from a customer for capacity planning advice. Their questions are typically ones like these:

  • Right now my largest system handles X users, can it handle double that? Do I need a faster machine?
  • As my load increases, I’m starting to suffer performance problems. Should I purchase more memory for my system?
  • I’m developing a brand-new application on SQL Anywhere. What will the performance be like?

My usual response to these inquiries is “I don’t know”, which unsurprisingly for the customer is a disappointing answer. But capacity planning is highly workload dependent, so making any recommendations without thorough testing and analysis is ill-advised. In this I am governed from two principles that I have learned from two people for whom I have a great deal of respect:

  • There are no right answers, only tradeoffs – William Cowan, Professor, University of Waterloo.
  • All CPUs wait at the same speed – Gord Steindel, Technical Services Manager, Great-West Life Assurance Company.

I think the most important thing that customers can do to get a handle on performance evaluation and capacity planning is to do it systematically. Ivan Bowman and I recently wrote a white paper that describes the most important performance factors for SQL Anywhere applications, and describes a systematic approach to performance evaluation that permits a thorough analysis of performance and use of the conclusions of that analysis to drive planning decisions.

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