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Monitoring Report Execution Performance with Execution Logs

SQL Server 2005
 

Stacia Misner

August 2006

Applies to:
   SQL Server 2005 Reporting Services
   Execution logs

Summary: This article presents an excerpt from the book, Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Reporting Services Step by Step, by Stacia Misner and Hitachi Consulting. Learn how to monitor reporting services by implementing an execution logging database and reviewing reports that query that database. (12 printed pages)

Contents

Introduction
Managing Execution Logging
Initializing an Execution Log Database
Using an Execution Log Report
Adding Current Data to the Execution Log
Conclusion
Related Books

Introduction

This article presents an excerpt from the book, Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Reporting Services Step by Step, by Stacia Misner and Hitachi Consulting. Learn how to monitor reporting services by implementing an execution logging database and reviewing reports that query that database. Get the Reporting Services project demonstrated in this article by downloading the sample project and related database. Be sure to attach the database to your SQL Server 2005 instance before you begin.

You can monitor report execution performance using execution logs. Execution logs differ from trace logs because the latter are stored in a set of files, whereas execution logs are stored in the ReportServer database. Because execution logs are intended for continual analysis, the data is stored relationally. The information that is stored in the ExecutionLog table of the ReportServer database isn't the best format for general reporting and analysis, but you can create your own logging database to which you can export logging records on a periodic basis. Reporting Services supplies you with the following tools to facilitate reporting on the logs:

  • A script to create tables in your own database.
  • A SQL Server 2005 Integration Services (SSIS) package to load logging records into this database.
  • Reports that allow you to review the execution information loaded into the new database.

You will work with these tools later in this article. You can schedule the SSIS package to perform periodic extracts from the ExecutionLog table to keep your logging database current and to allow you to delete rows from the log tables.

Managing Execution Logging

You can use the Site Settings page in Report Manager to start or stop execution logging at any time. You must be assigned to the System Administrator role in SQL Server to be able to change this setting. By default, execution logging is enabled, and log records will be kept only for 60 days. You can increase or decrease the number of days as desired to limit the amount of logging history that accumulates in the ExecutionLog table in the ReportServer database. Logging records that exceed the specified number are removed each day at 2:00 AM (local time for the Report Server). Alternatively, you can remove this limitation if you want to allow logging records to accumulate indefinitely. If you use the SSIS package mentioned earlier to copy the logs to a reporting database, you can delete logs as soon as they are copied to the logging database by adding an additional package step.

Review Current Execution Log Settings

In this procedure, you'll open the Site Settings page in Report Manager to review the current execution logging settings.

  1. Open Report Manager in Internet Explorer at http://localhost/Reports.
  2. Click the Site Settings link to review the settings shown here:

       

    Click here for larger image

    Figure 1 (Click on the image for a larger picture)

If you want to disable execution logging, you can clear the Enable Report Execution Logging check box. Notice that you can type a different number of days to change the frequency with which logging records are removed from the ExecutionLog table. To make the changes take effect, click Apply.

Initializing an Execution Log Database

Reporting Services provides the tools you need to effectively report and analyze information related to report processing. To get started, you will need to create a SQL Server database, and then you can use a supplied script to build the necessary tables in your new database. After creating the tables, you can use the SSIS package supplied by Reporting Services to load the new tables with data from the ExecutionLog table.

Create and Load the Execution Log Database

In this procedure, you'll create the RSExecutionLog database in which you'll create tables using a script, and then use a SSIS package to load data into the tables.

  1. Open Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio and connect to the Database Engine.
  2. Right-click the Databases folder, and then click New Database.
  3. Type a name for the database in the New Database Properties dialog box: RSExecutionLog.
  4. Click Options, set the Recovery Model to Simple, and then click OK.
  5. Click Open File on the toolbar, navigate to the folder to which you extracted the sample project, open the createtables.sql file, and connect to the Database Engine.
    Note   The createtables.sql file is included for your convenience in the practice files. Reporting Services supplies this file in the SQL Server 2005 samples. After you install the samples, you'll find this file in the C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\90\Samples\Reporting Services\Report Samples\Server Management Sample Reports\Execution Log Sample Reports folder.
  6. Click RSExecutionLog in the Available Database list box.
  7. Click the Execute button (or press F5) to run the createtables.sql script. The results of the query execution are displayed in the Messages tab on the Results pane:

    Aa964131.rsmnrptexpf02(en-US,SQL.90).gif

    Figure 2

  8. In Windows Explorer, double-click RSExecutionLog_Update.dtsx file in the folder to which you extracted the sample project. The Execute Package Utility dialog box is displayed:

       

    Click here for larger image

    Figure 3 (Click on the image for a larger picture)

  9. Click Execute to start running the package.
    Note   As with the script file you just used, the RSExecutionLog_Update.dtsx file is also included for your convenience in the practice files. You can find this file if you installed the SQL Server 2005 samples section in the C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\90\Samples\Reporting Services\Report Samples\Server Management Sample Reports\Execution Log Sample Reports folder.

    When package execution is complete, your screen looks like this:

       

    Click here for larger image

    Figure 4 (Click on the image for a larger picture)

  10. Click Close. Leave the Execute Package Utility open because you'll use it again in a later procedure.

Using an Execution Log Report

To help you review the information extracted to the RSExecutionLog database, Reporting Services supplies several sample execution logging reports. The practice files supplied with this book include several more reports to review execution log information. You can use the reports with or without modification, or add your own reports to use the execution logging information in different ways.

Deploy Execution Logging Reports

In this procedure, you'll deploy the execution logging reports, review the Average Report Execution Times report, and then deploy reports for comparing execution times.

  1. Using Visual Studio, open the ExecutionLog solution in the folder to which you extracted the sample project. The Solution Explorer window looks like this:

    Aa964131.rsmnrptexpf05(en-US,SQL.90).gif

    Figure 5

    Note   The shared data source in this solution assumes that you have named the new database RSExecutionLog, as described in the previous procedure, and that the database is on the local server.
  2. Right-click the ExecutionLog project, and then click Deploy.
  3. When the project successfully deploys, open the Home page in Report Manager.
  4. Click the Example Reports folder link, click the Execution Log Reports folder link, and then click the Average Report Execution Times report link. The top of the report looks similar to this:

       

    Click here for larger image

    Figure 6 (Click on the image for a larger picture)

    You'll see report names and metrics in this report that correspond to your usage of Reporting Services, but the speed of your computer might result in times different than those shown in this report. You'll need to scroll horizontally to see all averages calculated for a report. Notice the report parameters to select a start and end date for the report. The default values for these report parameters are calculated from the earliest and latest dates in the RSExecutionLog database tables.

    In the sample report shown here, the Product Sales and Profitability report has the longest rendering time. Your computer might render faster or slower. As you review the details of this report, you can see that the reports are listed in descending order of average total execution time. This execution time includes data retrieval, processing, and rendering time, which are displayed in separate columns for comparison.

  5. Using Visual Studio, open the Filter vs Parameter solution in the folder to which you extracted the sample project.
  6. On the Build menu, click Deploy Filter vs Parameter.

    The two reports in this solution use identical queries. You will execute these reports to compare the difference between the time to execute a report that uses a dataset filter, Product Profitability Filter, and the time to execute a report that uses a query parameter, Product Profitability Query Parameter.

  7. When the project successfully deploys, switch from Visual Studio to Report Manager, and then click the Execution Log Reports link.
  8. Click the Product Profitability Filter report link to execute the report.

    The execution time required for this report includes data retrieval, report processing, and rendering time, because this is the first time the report has been executed since deployment to the Report Server.

  9. In the Category drop-down list, select Accessory, and then click View Report.

    Since this report uses a dataset filter, there is no execution time for data retrieval or report processing when you change the category value. Only rendering time will be required to display Accessory data in this report.

  10. In the Category drop-down list, select Bike, click View Report, and then repeat this step for the Clothing category.
  11. Click the Execution Log Reports folder link.
  12. Click the Product Profitability Query Parameter Report link to execute the report.
  13. In the Category drop-down list, select Accessory, and then click View Report; repeat this step for the Bike category, and then again for the Clothing category.

    This report is created with query parameters, so each time you click View Report, execution time includes data retrieval, report processing, and rendering time.

  14. Click the Execution Log Reports folder link.
  15. Click the Average Report Execution Times report link.

    Notice that neither the Product Profitability Filter report nor the Product Profitability Query Parameter report is displayed in this report. The execution log reports are dependent on the data that currently exists in the RSExecutionLog database, which was extracted before you executed the product reports. You need to update the RSExecutionLog database to append records for the execution logging for the product reports.

Adding Current Data to the Execution Log

The RSExecutionLog is not designed to stay synchronized with the execution logging data in the ReportServer database. You need to determine a reasonable frequency for updating the RSExecutionLog database with new execution logging records, and then schedule the SSIS package to execute with this frequency. (Refer to SQL Server Books Online for more information about scheduling an SSIS package.)

Update the Execution Log Database

In this procedure, you'll update the RSExecutionLog database by executing the RSExecutionLog_Update package.

  1. Switch to the Execute Package Utility, and then click Execute.
  2. Click Close twice. The SSIS package appended new records to the RSExecutionLog database.
    Note   Rather than append records to the logging database, you might want to remove records for older data. You can use the cleanup.sql script in the folder to which you extracted the sample project. This file is also located in the C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\90\Samples\Reporting Services\Report Samples\Server Management Sample Reports\Execution Log Sample Reports if you installed the SQL Server 2005 samples.
  3. Close the Execute Package Utility.

Compare Execution Performance

In this procedure, you'll use execution logging reports to compare the performance of the Product Profitability Filter and Product Profitability Query Parameter reports.

  1. In Report Manager, return to the Execution Log Reports page, and then click the Average Report Execution Times report link.
  2. If necessary, replace the values in the Start Date and End Date boxes with the current date and time in the End Date box, and then click View Report. You might need to scroll through the report to find the product reports. The averages for the product reports should look similar to this:

       

    Click here for larger image

    Figure 7 (Click on the image for a larger picture)

    Note   The report shown in this example was exported to Microsoft Excel and reformatted to better display all data for these two reports. You might need to scroll horizontally to view the values in each column in Report Manager.

    The averages shown in your report will differ because of variations in server configurations. Using the report illustrated here, you can see that the relative performance of the two reports is similar. The average rendering time of the two product reports in the previous illustration is nearly the same, because rendering was required when each report was opened and each time View Report was clicked. The processing time and data retrieval time is greater for the Product Profitability Filter report, even though the query executed only once. However, the query retrieved data for all categories, which increased the data retrieval time as well as the processing time of the report. In the case of the Product Profitability Query Parameter report, the use of query parameters to retrieve a smaller dataset actually resulted in faster performance overall compared to the other report.

    As indicated in the Average Report Execution Times report, the times displayed in the report are milliseconds, so any delay experienced by the user in executing these reports is not particularly noticeable. However, when you are working with reports including production data, you can use the information in the Average Report Execution Times report to help you discover bottlenecks so you can take appropriate action to resolve report problems. For example, if you see that data retrieval is consuming a considerable amount of the overall processing time, you might try to improve the performance of the SQL query. If, on the other hand, you see processing is taking a long time, you might look for ways to reduce the complexity of the report.

  3. Click the Execution Log Reports folder link, and then click the Report Parameters report link.
  4. Expand Product Profitability Filter, and then expand Product Profitability Query Parameter. The top of the report looks similar to this:

       

    Click here for larger image

    Figure 8 (Click on the image for a larger picture)

    This report lets you compare and contrast the average total execution time by report parameter. This average is computed by dividing the total execution time for the report by the number of report executions.

  5. Click the Execution Log Reports folder link, and then click the Report Source Types report link.
  6. Expand Product Profitability Filter, and then expand Product Profitability Query Parameter. The top of the report looks similar to this:

       

    Click here for larger image

    Figure 9 (Click on the image for a larger picture)

    Here, you can see execution times by source type. Possible source types are Snapshot, Live, Cache, and History. Because the source type can affect execution times, you should review this report when evaluating the performance of a report.

Conclusion

With an execution log, you can monitor the duration and success rate of report executions, identify bottlenecks by examining execution times, and optimize report executions by using request frequency, execution times, and user information to help you choose an appropriate execution method for each report. In this article, we showed you how to create an execution logging database, how to execute an Integration Services package to load execution logging data into the database, and how to use reports to review execution log information.

Related Books

Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Reporting Services Step by Step

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