How to tune SQL in a Database Object with Plan Guide for SQL Server ?

Leveraging Plan Guides in MS SQL Server can prove beneficial for optimizing the performance of a particular query within database objects like stored procedures and trigger applications. This technique allows you to enhance query efficiency without requiring modifications to the application’s source code.

Here are the steps to use Plan Guides to tune third-party applications SQL in MS SQL Server without changing the source code:

  1. Identify the SQL that are causing performance issues in the database object.
  2. Create a Plan Guide that offers an optimized execution plan for the specified query by incorporating query hints to influence the decision-making process of the optimizer.
  3. Test the Plan Guide to ensure that it provides the desired performance improvements and does not cause any unintended side effects.
  4. Deploy the Plan Guide to production and monitor the performance of the application to ensure that the Plan Guide is being used and is providing the desired performance improvements.

Before optimizing an database object’s SQL statement executed by an application program without modifying the source code, it is crucial to understand how the SQL statement matches the one specified in the Plan Guide, which includes whitespace and comments. Additionally, it is important to match the database object that execute the SQL statement.
Below is an example that demonstrates how to optimize a SQL statement from a database object called getRD2. The SQL statement is selected and highlighted by the user.

Creating a plan guide may initially seem complex, but it is a valuable method for improving SQL performance without modifying the source code or lacking the necessary permissions. The most time-consuming part involves finding the best query hint for the SQL statement using the @hints = N’OPTION(query_hint [ ,…n ]) parameter in the sp_create_plan_guide system procedure. If you don’t have extensive knowledge of SQL tuning techniques or enough time for experimentation, a solution is available that simplifies the process. It captures SQL, identifies the SQL source type, automatically optimizes query hints, and facilitates easy deployment of plan guides. The following product automatically identifies a Plan Guide, as depicted in the accompanying screenshot, which can enhance SQL performance by 75.81%.

After identifying the optimal Plan Guide, we can proceed to deploy it along with the stored procedure to the SQL Server database. This deployment will result in improved performance for the stored procedure named getRD2, all without requiring any modifications to the source code of the stored procedure.

You also have the option to manually create the Plan Guide using the system procedure sp_create_plan_guide once you have obtained a suitable hint solution for the SQL statement.

For detailed information, kindly visit our website and take a look at our demo video.

Tosska DB Ace Enterprise for SQL Server – Tosska Technologies Limited
DBAS Tune SQL PG Object – YouTube

How to analyze the performance impact of a database environment change using what-if analysis ?

To properly evaluate the impact of a set of SQL statements during a database environment change, it’s crucial to have a thorough understanding of how SQL query performance can be impacted. There are two primary types of performance changes that can occur in SQL queries. The first type, which I refer to as “progressive change,” is typically caused by changes in statistics, such as fluctuations in data volume in relevant tables or index pages. If the statistics change is not significant enough to trigger a new query plan, the query plan will remain the same, and the performance of the SQL query will not be significantly altered compared to the original statistics.

The second type of performance change, which I refer to as “quantum change” occurs when a new query plan is introduced due to a significant change in statistics or schema. This type of change can have a major impact on performance, occasionally resulting in performance disasters.

When making changes to the database environment, it is essential to closely monitor the performance of SQL queries and take appropriate measures to optimize the affected statements. To track critical SQL statements before and after environment changes, there are some general steps you can follow :

  1. Extract the SQL statements along with their query plan and performance statistics from SGA or AWR.
  2. Apply the environment changes to the database, such as creating new indexes, gathering statistics, upgrading the database, or forecasting the performance of a software deployment in the production database.
  3. Obtain the query plan from the changed database environment.
  4. Compare the query plan for each SQL statement to identify any differences.
  5. Look for potential issues such as unused indexes, high-cost SQL changes, etc.
  6. Benchmark the query plan for the modified SQL statements to detect any degraded performance.

If you only have a small number of SQL statements to track in terms of performance before and after environment changes, the above steps can be done manually. However, it can be challenging if you have hundreds of SQL statements to monitor without a tool. Tosska DB Ace for Oracle is equipped with a robust tool that can assist you in tracking the performance differences of SQL statements between two databases.

DBAO SQL Performance Tracker – YouTube
Tosska DB Ace Enterprise for Oracle – Tosska Technologies Limited

How to Tune SQL with IN Subquery with Intersect for Oracle?

Here is an example SQL that retrieves data from EMPLOYEE and DEPARTMENT table with the employee’s grade code in the GRADE table.

SELECT emp_id,
       emp_name,
       dpt_name
FROM   employee,
       department
WHERE  emp_dept = dpt_id
       AND emp_grade IN (SELECT grd_id
                         FROM grade
                         WHERE grd_min_salary < 200000)
and emp_dept < ‘D’

Here the following is the query plan of this SQL, it takes 8.3 seconds to finish. The query plan shows a Hash Join with GRADE and EMPLOYEE and then hash join to DEPARTMENT. It looks like Oracle gave up any Nested Loops operations after the actual number of rows is returned from the GRADE table in this adaptive plan.

In order to ask Oracle to consider the Nested Loops operations, I added an extra Intersect operation in the subquery to rapidly narrow down the result set of grd_id returned from the GRADE table first.

SELECT emp_id,
       emp_name,
       dpt_name
FROM   employee,
       department
WHERE  emp_dept = dpt_id
       AND emp_grade IN (SELECT grd_id
                         FROM   grade
                         WHERE  grd_min_salary < 200000                          INTERSECT SELECT e1.emp_grade
                                   FROM employee e1
                                   WHERE emp_dept < ‘D’)
       AND emp_dept < ‘D’

The rewritten SQL generates a query plan that is entirely different from the original query plan, The new plan is using “Nested Loops” from DEPARTMENT to EMPLOYEE as the first steps and then Hash Join to the GRADE table. The new plan now takes 0.81 seconds only.


This kind of rewrite can be achieved by Tosska SQL Tuning Expert Pro for Oracle automatically, it shows that the rewrite is more than 10 times faster than the original SQL.

https://tosska.com/tosska-sql-tuning-expert-pro-tse-pro-for-oracle/

How to Tune SQL Statement with LCASE function on index field?

Some business requirements may need to compare the lower case of an indexed column to a given string as a data retrieval criterion.

Here is an example SQL that retrieves records from the EMPLOYEE table employee if the lower case of the name is equal to the string ‘richard’.

select  *
  from employee
where LCASE(emp_name)=‘richard’

Here the following are the query plans of this SQL, it takes 17 seconds to finish. The query shows a “Full Table Scan Employee”  

You can see that this SQL cannot utilize index scan even if the emp_name is an indexed field. Let me add a “Force Index(emp_name_inx)“hint to the SQL and hope it can help MySQL SQL optimizer to use index scan, but it fails to enable the index scan anyway, so I add one more dummy condition “emp_name >= ””, it is an always true condition that emp_name should be greater or equal to a smallest empty character, it is used to increase the cost of not using emp_name_inx index. There is another condition added “emp_name is null” to correct this condition if emp_name is a null value.

select  *
from   employee force index(EMPS_NAME_INX)
where  LCASE(emp_name) = ‘richard’
     and ( emp_name >=
        or emp_name is null )

Here is the query plan of the rewritten SQL and it is running much faster. The new query plan shows that an Index Scan is used now and takes 2.79 seconds only.

This kind of rewrite can be achieved by Tosska SQL Tuning Expert for MySQL automatically, it shows that the rewrite is more than 6 times faster than the original SQL.

https://tosska.com/tosska-sql-tuning-expert-tse-for-mysql-2/

How to use ROWID to improve an UPDATE statement for Oracle?

Here the following is an Update SQL with a subquery that updates the EMPLOYEE table if the emp_dept satisfies the records returned from a subquery.

update  employee
   set  emp_name = ‘testing’
 where  emp_dept IN (select dpt_id
            from department
          where dpt_name like ‘A%’)
and emp_grade>2000

You can see Oracle uses a Hash join of the DEPARTMENT table and EMPLOYEE table to execute the update process. This query plan takes 1.96 seconds to complete and no index is used even though emp_dept, dpt_id, and emp_grade are indexed columns. It looks like the most expansive operation is the Table Access Full scan of the EMPLOYEE table.

Let’s rewrite the SQL into the following syntax to eliminate EMPLOYEE’s Table Access Full operation from the query plan.  The new subquery with the italic Bold text is used to force the EMPLOYEE to extract records with emp_dept in the DEPARTMENT table with the dpt_name like ‘A%’. The ROWID returned from the EMPLOYEE(subquery) is to make sure a more efficient table ROWID access to the outer EMPLOYEE table.

UPDATE  employee
SET   emp_name=‘testing’
WHERE   ROWID IN (SELECT  ROWID
          FROM   employee
          WHERE  emp_dept IN (SELECT  dpt_id
                      FROM   department
                      WHERE  dpt_name LIKE‘A%’))
     AND emp_grade > 2000

You can see the final query plan with this syntax has a better cost without full table access to the EMPLOYEE table. The new syntax takes 0.9 seconds and it is more than 2 times faster than the original syntax.

This kind of rewrite can be achieved by Tosska SQL Tuning Expert Pro for Oracle automatically, there is another SQL rewrite with similar performance, but it is not suitable to discuss in this short article, maybe I can discuss it later in my blog.

https://tosska.com/tosska-sql-tuning-expert-pro-tse-pro-for-oracle/

How to build indexes for multiple Max() functions for SQL Server?

For some SQL statements with multiple Max() functions in the select list and nothing in the Where clause, we have different methods to create new indexes to improve the SQL speed.

Here is an example SQL, it is to retrieve the maximum name and age from the employee table.
select   max(emp_name),
     max(emp_age)
from  employee

The following is the query plan that takes 9.27 seconds.

The SQL cannot be tuned by SQL syntax rewrite or hints injection, and the SSMS cannot recommend any index to improve the SQL.

For this kind of SQL that we can consider building a composite index or two individual indexes for emp_name and emp_age. A new composite of these two columns (emp_age, emp_name) can improve the SQL around 7 times. The following is the query plan shows that the new composite index is used, but it has to scan the entire index for these two stream aggregate operations before getting the max(emp_name) and max(emp_age).

How about if we build two individual indexes for emp_name and emp_age. The following is the result and query plan of these two indexes created. A Top operator selects the first row from each index and returns to the Stream Aggregate operation, and then a Nested Loops join the two maximum results together. It is 356 times much faster than the original SQL.

This kind of indexes recommendation can be achieved by Tosska SQL Tuning Expert Pro for SQL Server automatically:
Tosska SQL Tuning Expert Pro (TSES Pro™) for SQL Server – Tosska Technologies Limited

How to build indexes for slow first execution SQL – SQL Server?

You may suffer from SQL statements with a slow first execution time due to the long data cache process. The following SQL is simple that retrieves records from the EMPLOYEE table that if EMP_SALARY < 500000 and the result set is ordered by EMP_NAME.

Select emp_id,
    emp_name,
    emp_salary,
    emp_address,
    emp_telephone
from    employee
where  emp_salary < 500000
order by emp_name;

The following is the query plan that takes 9.51 seconds for the first execution and takes 0.99 seconds for the second execution without data cache.

The SQL cannot be tuned by SQL syntax rewrite or hints injection for both the first execution and the second execution, it is because SQL Server has selected the best query plan for this simple SQL statement. But the problem is that if the condition “where emp_salary < 500000” is changed; say from 500000 to 510000 or the EMPLOYEE data is flushed out from the memory, the execution time will then be prolonged up to 9.51 seconds.

Let’s see if we can build indexes to improve this situation. There is a common perception that a good index can help to improve both the first execution time and the second execution time. So, I use a tool to explore a lot of indexes configurations, but none of them can improve both executions’ performance. Here the following is the performance of the second execution with data cached for different indexes proposed by the tool. You can see the performance of “Index Set 1” is close to the original SQL performance with a little performance variation due to the system’s loading status and all other indexes sets are worse than the original SQL. Normally, we will give up the tuning of the SQL statement without even trying to see whether those recommended indexes are good for the first execution time.

I did a test for those recommended indexes to see whether they are helpful to improve the first execution time, it surprises me that the “Index Set 1” is tested with a significant improvement and improves the first execution time from 9.51 seconds to 0.65 seconds. It is a 14 times improvement that can make my database run more efficiently. So, you should be very careful to tune your SQL with new indexes that may not be good for your second execution with all data cached, but it may be very good for your first execution without data cached.

This kind of indexes recommendation can be achieved by Tosska SQL Tuning Expert Pro for SQL Server automatically.

Tosska SQL Tuning Expert Pro (TSES Pro™) for SQL Server – Tosska Technologies Limited

How to index SQL with aggregate function SQL for Oracle?

Here the following is an example SQL shows you that select the maximum emp_address which is not indexed in the EMPLOYEE table with 3 million records, the emp_grade is an indexed column.

select max(emp_address) from employee a
where emp_grade<4000

As 80% of the EMPLOYEE table’s records will be retrieved to examine the maximum emp_address string. The query plan of this SQL shows a Table Access Full on EMPLOYEE table is reasonable.

How many ways to build an index to improve this SQL?
Although it is simple SQL, there are still 3 ways to build an index to improve this SQL, the following are the possible indexes that can be built for the SQL, the first one is a single column index and the 2 and 3 are the composite index with a different order.
1. EMP_ADDRESS
2. EMP_GRADE, EMP_ADDRESS
3. EMP_ADDRESS, EMP_GRADE

Most people may use the EMP_ADDRESS as the first choice to improve this SQL, let’s see what the query plan is if we build a virtual index for the EMP_ADDRESS column in the following, you can see the estimated cost is reduced by almost half, but this query plan is finally not being used after the physical index is built for benchmarking due to actual statistics is collected.

The following query shows the EMP_ADDRESS index is not used and the query plan is the same as the original SQL without any new index built.

Let’s try the second composite index (EMP_GRADE, EMP_ADDRESS), the new query plan shows an Index Fast Full Scan of this index, it is a reasonable plan which no table’s data is needed to retrieve. So, the execution time is reduced from 16.83 seconds to 3.89 seconds.

Let’s test the last composite index (EMP_ADDRESS, EMP_GRADE) that EMP_ADDRESS is placed as the first column in the composite index, it creates a new query plan that shows an extra FIRST ROW operation for the INDEX FULL SCAN (MIN/MAX), it highly reduces the execution time from 16.83 seconds to 0.08 seconds.

So, indexing sometimes is an art that needs you to pay more attention to it, some potential solutions may perform excess your expectation.

The best index solution is now more than 200 times better than the original SQL without index, this kind of index recommendation can be achieved by Tosska SQL Tuning Expert for Oracle automatically.

https://tosska.com/tosska-sql-tuning-expert-pro-tse-pro-for-oracle/

How to use FORCE INDEX Hints to tune an UPDATE SQL statement?

improve performance of sql query

We used to use FORCE INDEX hints to enable an index search for a SQL statement if a specific index is not used. It is due to the database SQL optimizer thinking that not using the specific index will perform better.  But enabling an index is not as simple as just adding an index search in the query plan, it may entirely change the structure of the query plan, which means that forecasting the performance of the new Force Index hints is not easy. Here is an example to show you how to use FORCE INDEX optimization hints to tune a SQL statement.

A simple example SQL that updates EMP_SUBSIDIARY if the emp_id is found in EMPLOYEE with certain criteria.

update EMP_SUBSIDIARY set emp_name=concat(emp_name,'(Headquarter)’)
where emp_id in
(SELECT emp_id
  FROM EMPLOYEE
WHERE  emp_salary <1000000
   and emp_grade<1150)

Here the following is the query plan of this SQL, it takes 18.38 seconds. The query shows a Full Table Scan of EMPLOYEE and then Nested Loop to EMP_SUBSIDIARY with a Unique Key Lookup of Emp_sub_PK index.

We can see that the filter condition “emp_salary <1000000 and emp_grade<1150” is used for the full table scan of EMPLOYEE. The estimated “filtered (ratio of rows produced per rows examined): 3.79%”, it seems the MySQL SQL optimizer is failed to use an index to scan the EMPLOYEE table. We should consider forcing MySQL to use either one of emp_salary or emp_grade index.

Unless you fully understand the data distribution and do a very precise calculation, otherwise you are not able to tell which index is the best?

Let’s try to force the index of emp_salary first.

update   EMP_SUBSIDIARY
set    emp_name=concat(emp_name,‘(Headquarter)’)
where emp_id in (select  emp_id
         from    EMPLOYEE FORCE INDEX(`emps_salary_inx`)
         where  emp_salary < 1000000
           and emp_grade < 1150)

This SQL takes 8.92 seconds and is 2 times better than the original query plan without force index hints.

Let’s try to force the index of emp_grade again.

update   EMP_SUBSIDIARY
set    emp_name=concat(emp_name,‘(Headquarter)’)
where emp_id in (select  emp_id
         from    EMPLOYEE FORCE INDEX(`emps_grade_inx`)
         where  emp_salary < 1000000
           and emp_grade < 1150)

Here is the result query plan of the Hints FORCE INDEX(`emps_grade_inx`) injected SQL and the execution time is reduced to 3.95 seconds. The new query plan shows an Index Range Scan of EMPLOYEE by EMP_GRADE index, the result is fed to a subquery2(temp table) and Nested Loop to EMP_SUBSIDIARY for the update. This query plan’s estimated cost is lower and performs better than the original SQL. It is due to the limited plan space in the real-time SQL optimization process, so this query plan cannot be generated for the original SQL text, so manual hints injection is necessary for this SQL statement to help MySQL database SQL optimizer to find a better query plan.

This kind of rewrite can be achieved by Tosska SQL Tuning Expert for MySQL automatically, it shows that the Hints injected SQL is more than 4.6 times faster than the original SQL.

https://tosska.com/tosska-sql-tuning-expert-tse-for-mysql-2/

How to build indexes for multiple Max() functions for SQL Server?

For some SQL statements with multiple Max() functions in the select list and nothing in the Where clause, we have different methods to create new indexes to improve the SQL speed.

Here is an example SQL, it is to retrieve the maximum name and age from the employee table.

select max(emp_name),
     max(emp_age)
from  employee

The following is the query plan that takes 9.27 seconds.

The SQL cannot be tuned by SQL syntax rewrite or hints injection, and the SSMS cannot recommend any index to improve the SQL.

For this kind of SQL that we can consider building a composite index or two individual indexes for emp_name and emp_age.  A new composite of these two columns (emp_age, emp_name) can improve the SQL around 7 times. The following is the query plan shows that the new composite index is used, but it has to scan the entire index for these two stream aggregate operations before getting the max(emp_name) and max(emp_age).

How about if we build two individual indexes for emp_name and emp_age. The following is the result and query plan of these two indexes created. A Top operator selects the first row from each index and returns to the Stream Aggregate operation, and then a Nested Loops join the two maximum results together. It is 356 times much faster than the original SQL.

This kind of indexes recommendation can be achieved by Tosska SQL Tuning Expert Pro for SQL Server automatically.

Tosska SQL Tuning Expert Pro (TSES Pro™) for SQL Server – Tosska Technologies Limited