Performance analysis via the PAL tool

The PAL (Performance Analysis of Logs) tool is a powerful tool that reads in a performance monitor counter log and analyzes it using best practice type thresholds. The tool generates an HTML based report that graphically charts important performance counters and throws alerts when thresholds are exceeded.

The PAL Tool is a helper tool for BizTalk performance testing. Out of the box BizTalk ships with 294 performance counters. So, if you have two servers, you will already have 588 performance counters to analyze. The PAL tool simplifies the analysis effort and uses best practices.

After installing the PAL tool the first step is to export the so-called PerfMon template file. The PerfMon template file contains a number of performance counters which can be used as the input for creating a new performance monitor log in PerfMon. The PerfMon template file can be created via the PAL tool. You can for instance select the template Microsoft BizTalk Server 2006/2009/2010. This template file includes the System Overview template (memory usage, CPU usage), but also the IIS template, DotNet template, VMWare template and SQL Server template. See the screen shot below.


The treshold file can be exported and copied to the BizTalk Servers and the BizTalk SQL Servers. Using these PerfMon template files, performance monitor logs can be created via PerfMon. Create a new user defined DataCollectorSet. PerfMon must be run during the test period only.

After collecting the performance test data, copy the PerfMon logs to the installation directory of the PAL tool. Start the PAL tool again and specify the path to the PerfMon log (= Counter Log Path). The PAL wizard will further guide you through the process. You can specify a date/time range to restrict the analysis to. You can select an output file and output options. Also you can select an analysis interval (that is: calculate counters per quarter, hour or AUTO (preferred)). Finally you can directly execute the analysis or queue the analysis for execution over lunch or overnight.

The report generated by the PAL tool is simply an interpretation of the perfmon log data using generalized thresholds. The PAL report is separated by categories and in each category is a collection of analyses. Each analysis focuses on a specific performance counter. If any of the thresholds are exceeded, then an alert is raised. The analyses in the report contain content describing the purpose of the analysis, why the thresholds are there, and references to more information. To learn more about interpreting the PAL report for BizTalk analysis, then read the following article:

Using the Performance Analysis of Logs (PAL) Tool