Analysis Services in High Data Volume Business scenarios

Performance Issues with Sequential Processing

Inspite of usage of partitions it was found that given the time window of 2 hours for processing the dimensions and cubes was not sufficient as the volume of data was fairly large (often 40 million rows for Payments, Sales cubes) due to back dated updates for Payments and Sales based fact tables.It was found that with sequential processing the time taken to process the backdated transaction related cubes was exceeding two hours. Hence the cube processing SLA was not being met.
The average data volumes processed across different manufacturing projects in the daily runs for the dimensions and cube and the time taken to process is given in the table below –

Dimension/Cube

Daily Refresh Strategy

Object Type

Processing Time

Data Volume

Item

Full

Dimension

6 seconds

21593

Time

Full

Dimension

5 seconds

22286

Factory

Full

Dimension

2 seconds

450

Supplier

Full

Dimension

2 seconds

780

Payments

Full

Cube

1 hour 05 minutes

37,123,254

Receipts

Full

Cube

1 hour 20 minutes

46,187,562

Total time taken for Cube Processing = 2 hours 25 minutes (sequential processing)

The average data volumes processed across different retail projects in the daily runs for the dimensions and cube and the time taken to process is given in the table below –

Dimension/Cube

Daily Refresh Strategy

Object Type

Processing Time

Data Volume

Product

Full

Dimension

7 seconds

22978

Time

Full

Dimension

4 seconds

22286

Outlet

Full

Dimension

2 seconds

566

Supplier

Full

Dimension

2 seconds

963

Waste

Full

Cube

1 hour 15 minutes

44,123,254

Sales

Full

Cube

1 hour 25 minutes

52,187,562

Total time taken for Cube Processing = 2 hours 40 minutes (sequential processing)
The diagram below shows the problems with sequential processing can be resolved by utilizing the Parallel Processing Utility in Analysis Services 2000.

Performance Gains from Parallel Processing

The Parallel Processing Utility from Microsoft helps in processing cubes in parallel. It achieves this by using DSO calls and optimum utilization of CPU’s. The PPU can process cubes, partitions and dimensions in Analysis Services databases on local or remote servers. It includes two executable files namely ParallelProcess.exe and ProcessPartition.exe. ParallelProcess.exe is a Microsoft Windows program that enables a user to specify and process multiple cubes, partitions and dimensions on a server. Unlike Analysis Manager this program executes requests in parallel. ParallelProcess.exe calls the auxiliary executable file, ProcessPartition.exe to perform the actual processing of cubes, partitions and dimensions.

The basic rationale of parallel processing is explained by understanding the cube processing holistically. Processing partitions is a two-stage operation.  In the first stage, data is read from the relational database into AS, grouped into segments and saved to disk.  CPU usage in this stage is largely dependent on how fast data arrives from the RDBMS.  Generally less than one CPU is occupied at this time.  The second stage requires reading the data back from disk and computing aggregations and indexes for the data.  This operation is performed in multiple threads, and can be very CPU intensive.  Multiple processors may be fully utilized.

The PPU was integrated with the existing DTS jobs for the cubes and based on benchmark testing in the given environment it was observed that 2 partitions could be run in parallel and the processing time came down by around 25 %. This was a substantial gain and helped in meeting the cube processing SLA. The table below shows the data volumes and execution time for the dimensions and cubes with parallel processing of the cubes in manufacturing and retail domains –

Dimension/Cube

Daily Refresh Strategy

Object Type

Processing Time

Data Volume

Item

Full

Dimension

6 seconds

21593

Time

Full

Dimension

5 seconds

22286

Factory

Full

Dimension

2 seconds

450

Supplier

Full

Dimension

2 seconds

780

Payments

Full

Cube

47 minutes

37,123,254

Receipts

Full

Cube

57 minutes

46,187,562

Total Time to Process the cubes – 1 hour 44 minutes (parallel processing of 2 partitions).
Gain in Time from use of PPU – 41 minutes
Percentage Gain in Processing from Use of AS PPU– (41/145 ) * 100 = 28%

Dimension/Cube

Daily Refresh Strategy

Object Type

Processing Time

Data Volume

Product

Full

Dimension

7 seconds

22978

Time

Full

Dimension

4 seconds

22286

Outlet

Full

Dimension

2 seconds

566

Supplier

Full

Dimension

2 seconds

963

Waste

Full

Cube

50 minutes

44,123,254

Sales

Full

Cube

1 hour 10 minutes

52,187,562

Total Time to Process the cubes – 2 hours (parallel processing of 2 partitions).
Gain in Time from use of PPU – 40 minutes
Percentage Gain in Processing from Use of AS PPU– (40/160 ) * 100 = 25%

Hence a substantial performance benefit was found with the use of Parallel Processing Utility (PPU). The gain percentage will however vary depending on available hardware and data volumes. With the given environment it is recommended to process two partitions in parallel without causing memory issues or excessive load on CPU’s.

Recommendations about the use of PPU

The recommendations for parallel processing stem from the basic tenet that “All partitions CANNOT be processed in parallel”. This basically means that increasing parallelism does not imply performance gains.

The recommendations based on CPU sizes are as follows:

# of CPUs    Optimum # of parallel executions
———         —————————————————-
4                      2-3
8                      4-5
16                    4-6

Considering the above it is recommended that:

  • Dimensions are processed in serial order. Since dimension processing in the current scenario takes negligible amount of time, this will not impact the processing times.
  • Process partitions of a SINGLE cube parallely. Since with the current design, for Sales and Waste at the most two monthly partitions need to be processed it will be recommended to process these two monthly partitions parallely. Hence at any given time not more than 2 partitions should be processed. However in cases where additional memory and processors are available more number of cube partitions could be processed in parallel.

Don’ts for the usage of the Parallel Processing Utility

  • Do not parallelize processing of dimensions and facts. For example, do not process the TIME dimension in parallel with the Sales cube.
  • Do not increase the degree of parallelism in the Utility to a number greater than the number of CPU’s in the machine plus one. Thus, if the server has two CPU’s the degree of the parallelism should NOT exceed 3. A number greater than 3 will not give significant performance gains. Moreover, a high degree of parallelism will consume entire CPU resources and might create memory issues.
  • Expect the Process Buffer Size to reflect the buffer allocations for each single thread. In other words, if the Process Buffer Size is set to 600 MB and the parallelism is set to 3, it is recommended that the RAM in the server at least provides for 1800 MB (600*3)

Continues…

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