Thursday, August 14, 2008

How to Clear the Application Server Cache Without Shutting it Down

Updated 4.9.2008: It is often necessary to clear the physical cache files on the PeopleSoft application server. You would think that after all the length of time that PeopleTools has been around, that development would have sorted out the problems in object version numbering. Sometimes, recently migrated changes do not take effect until the cache is cleared. Global Support will nearly always ask you to clear the cache if you are experiencing any kind of problem in the PIA. Normally, you would shut down the application server, delete the physical cache directories and restart the application server. From PeopleTools 8.48, each Application server process can only use one dedicated set of physical cache files that is in a directory whose name includes the name and ID number of the server, (previously the server process could use any unlock set cache directories). This allowed PeopleSoft to add an option to the psadmin utility to trigger each PSAPPSRV process to clear out its own physical cache (my thanks to the anonymous question asked after the original version of this posting that reminded me). This option also causes each server process to recycle. It is the recommended and supported way to clear the physical cache files. This can also be invoked from the command line
psadmin -c purge -d <domain> [-noarch | -arch <archive_directory>] [-log <"log_comments">]
where 'domain' specifies domain name in PS_HOME and
   'archive_directory' specifies location to which to quarantine the purged cache,
   'log_comments' specifies any comments to be added to the purge cache log entry
However, even in previous versions, there has always been a way to invalidate all physical cache files. Any cached object older than the value of LASTREFRESHDTTM on the table PSSTATUS (it was on a different table prior to PeopleTools 8) is purged from the cache when the process that references that cache starts. Therefore, if that value is updated to the current time, the entire cache will be purged.
Sometimes, developers also have to clear the physical cache on their clients used by Application Designer. Updating PSSTATUS also clears two-tier client caches. In fact, this behaviour is left over from the days when PeopleTools was a two-tier application, and it was necessary to clear cache files on users' desktop computers.
  • If you have multiple Application Servers on a single database, then you can shut each one down in turn without any loss of server. The users will fail over to the surviving servers. However, this can result in the load being unevenly distributed and could overload one server.
  • In small environments, and this includes most development and test systems, there is only a single application server. Shutting down an application server requires downtime and can be disruptive.
If an application server has at least two instances of a server process then each process can be recycled one by one, and there is no loss of service because the other processes can handle incoming requests. You could do this manually by entering the stop and boot commands in tmadmin (I discussed this in Chapter 13 of PeopleSoft for the Oracle DBA, but didn't combine it with the idea of clearing the Application Server cache). I have produced a script, (available from the Go-Faster website) that uses the Tuxedo command line interface utility, tmadmin, to find out which PSAPPSRV processes are running, and then sequentially recycles each of them. I don't think I would completely automate these two operations into a single process, nor would I run them unattended, but you can now clear cache files without taking a system away from users or developers. Remember, that users will experience a reduction in performance after clearing the cache because it needs to be rebuilt by querying the PeopleTools table. The Process Scheduler, Master Process Scheduler, Distribution Server, and Application Engine processes also have physical caches. These are also cleared when LASTREFRESHDTTM is updated and the processes restarted. However, you should not shut down the Process Scheduler while processes are executing. The server process will shutdown and the Application Engine will be killed if using an Application Engine server process (PSAESRV). Any stand-alone processes, including psae, will be killed by the Process Scheduler when it is restarted.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Serious fault with PeopleSoft Performance Monitor fixed in PeopleTools 8.49.14

Regular readers of my ramblings will know that I spend a lot of my time working with the PeopleSoft Performance Monitor (PPM). It is an extremely valuable source of performance metrics that are mostly not available, or if they are just difficult to obtain and process.

In PeopleTools 8.49, PPM has a serious fault. It is very similar to scenario reported for PeopleTools 8.44 in GSC Solution 200769188: PerfMon: Too many httpd processes spawned/sockets opened when using PerfMon.

"When a 404 is returned from the monitor server the calling agent code only checks the HTTP return code but does not flush the input stream. This causes the connection to remain open until the GC finally closes the input steam which closes the open connection. This is easily detected by the increasing list of sockets in CLOSE_WAIT state [, as reported by netstat]. On NT there is no hard limit on file descriptors and therefore a crash is not noticed. On Unix platforms this can cause the process to run out of file descriptors before the JVM GC has a chance to run and free up the sockets."

Hence, when running the application server on Unix, you will reach a point where JSH processes cannot open new ports and PIA users can receive the 'Application Server is Down' message. So, this can cause the system to become unavailable until the application server is rebooted. To prevent this occurring, the PPM must be deconfigured. The Monitor URL should be set to 'NONE'.

According to PeopleSoft Global Support this problem will be resolved in PeopleTools 8.49 patch 14.