CSX Upgrades 400 Databases More Than 2x Faster and Avoids Business Disruption with Quality Management Solutions
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CSX Upgrades 400 Databases More Than 2x Faster and Avoids Business Disruption with Quality Management Solutions

CSX, based in Jacksonville, Florida, is a premier transportation company. It provides rail, intermodal, and rail-to-truck transload services and solutions to customers across a broad array of markets, including energy, industrial, construction, agricultural, and consumer products. For more than 185 years, CSX has played a critical role in the nation's economic expansion and industrial development. Its network connects every major metropolitan area in the eastern United States, where nearly two-thirds of the nation's population resides. It also links more than 240 short-line railroads and more than 70 ocean, river and lake ports, with major population centers and small farming towns, alike.

CSX has a very large Oracle Database footprint—with more than 400 databases supporting critical commercial, off-the-shelf and proprietary business applications, including payroll, dispatching, and a customer-facing order entry system. To ensure high performance, maintain business continuity, and take advantage of new functionality, CSX decided to upgrade to Oracle Database 11g.

The transportation company wanted to minimize business impact and downtime during the migration, as well as reduce the time required to migrate all 400 databases. The IT team understood that a successful database upgrade initiative, like any major infrastructure project, requires extensive planning and testing. CSX used Oracle Real Application Testing to help streamline the process and ensure flawless execution. It completed the database upgrade in just 24 months, less than half the time required for the company’s previous database upgrade cycle—which took five years, even though it involved a database footprint that was 30% smaller. In addition, the company is seeing performance improvements with the new environment as well as 7x data compression rates thanks to Oracle Advanced Compression, an option for Oracle Database 11g.

Oracle Real Application Testing enabled CSX to fully assess the effect of infrastructure changes and fine tune queries in a test environment before deploying the change in production—reducing risk, avoiding disruption and rework, and accelerating the overall process. “We used Oracle Real Application Testing to capture real production workloads, replay them in the 11g development environment, identify poor performing queries, and fine tune them in a test environment—allowing us to mitigate post-upgrade performance issues,” said Maritza Gonzalez, technical director, data management, CSX.

CSX used Oracle Real Application Testing’s SQL Performance Analyzer to evaluate the impact of an upgrade to Oracle Database 11g on both prepackaged and custom SQL queries in its Oracle E-Business Suite environment. The feature enabled CSX to capture all SQL queries for a specified time period and create a comprehensive collection of target SQLs. The team then simply copied the SQL tuning sets from the Oracle Database 10g production environment to the 11g development environment to quickly identify problematic queries. “Before, we could spend days looking for the cause of a bottleneck. We cut that down to hours with Oracle Real Application Testing,” said Duane Lupinski, database administrator (DBA), data management, CSX.

“The ability to proactively identify potential query regression provided a great deal of value during the migration project,” Lupinski said. “By performing comprehensive query analysis, we reduced upgrade testing time and issues post upgrade.”

In addition, the team used Oracle Real Application Testing to test multiple replays of the Oracle Database 11g version of the enterprise data warehouse to assess potential impact before migrating. “The ability to replay was critical to the success of our initiative, which involved simultaneously upgrading to 11g and migrating to a new Linux-based Oracle Real Application Clusters operating system from an IBM AIX platform. DBAs and back-end storage and UNIX teams could compare performance between the old and new environments based on real workloads,” said Majumdar Nirupam, DBA, data management, CSX.

A word from CSX Corporation

  • “Oracle Real Application Testing was a major factor in our successful upgrade of 400 databases to Oracle Database 11g. We ensured a very smooth upgrade with no business disruption, and we completed the project in half the time of our last upgrade.” – Maritza Gonzalez, Technical Director, Data Management, CSX Corporation