SQL Monitor 2.0 – stress-free involuntary DBA on-the-go

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Technology has changed a lot, and so have our expectations of it. What I mean by this is that with every month we get more data, more databases, more instances, more servers, more server farms and respectively more companies which feel the need for a DBA.

In the process of filling the gap between a well performing stable system and a tremendous amount of money spent on maintenance, a company will inevitably need to use some external tool.

Microsoft itself has been trying to bring automation, performance data gathering and ease of monitoring into SQL Server since ‘medieval’ times, and with every version of SQL Server the performance data is a tad more accessible. But still, in order for a DBA to put together a good picture of historical performance data for N number of servers it will take correlating data from a few different tools (for each one a specific skillset is required!), many sleepless nights, coding, studying, (hopefully not, but also maybe) a few thoughts about a career change…

And here is where the Red Gate SQL Monitor comes in to save the day / month / year.

Is the Red Gate SQL Monitor 2.0 any good though?!

This is a valid question. Let’s take a quick overview of its features and then let’s dive into details. Screenshots

Alert inboxGlobal overview

SQL Monitor features include:

Intuitive overviews at global, cluster, machine, SQL Server and database levels for up-to-the minute performance data
-Intelligent SQL Server alerts via email and an alert inbox in the UI, so you know about problems first
-SQL Monitor’s web UI means you can check your server health and performance on the go with many mobile devices, including tablets
-Comprehensive historical data, so you can go back in time to identify the source of a problem fast
– Generate reports via the UI and with SQL Server Reporting Services
– Investigate long-running queries, SQL deadlocks, blocked processes, and more, to resolve problems sooner
– Fast, simple installation and administration
– Works right out of the box with sensible default settings for alerts that can be easily configured

So, here are the detailed Pros and Cons of the product – after that, you do the math. Pros:

-Almost ridiculously easy to install and setup – I am saying this, because before I started writing this article I installed the product on 3 different machines, just to test it, and I could not believe that in a few minutes and about 5½ clicks the system would be ready to use. (I wish some other programs were so easy to install, huh.)
– Intuitive easy to use interface – the segregation between the different monitoring levels is clear and self-explanatory
– Support of SQL2000 SP4 and up
– Easy hops between the server, instance, database and performance counter levels
– Historical data overview, reporting and tooltips help the user in analyzing the data in seconds
– Explanation and guidelines are built in
– Possibility to comment on alerts and events
– Support for mobile devices as well as email notifications
– Rich ground for add-ons and near future improvements

Cons:

– Currently there is only one admin / user login – I would like to see the system having the capability of bearing several different levels of users, who can view delimited number of servers and related information.

Conclusion:

In my opinion, the Red Gate’s SQL Monitor 2.0 system represents a robust, comprehensive, seamless approach to simplify the life of an (in)voluntary DBA. It is the single place for gathering performance information, analysis, and reports.

Additional on-demand alerts can be setup to further assist the DBA in performing the task of system monitoring. Furthermore, due to the easy to use interface as well as the comprehensive explanations of terms and built-in collection of guidelines, the product saves the users time and effort and helps them concentrate on solving the problem.

I would call this product “stress-free involuntary DBA on-the-go” because it works 24/7, outlines important tasks and counters to look into, sends notifications around the clock and the data is available from anywhere by using virtually any mobile device.

And think about this: the tool can be used as a common ground and communication language between different operational levels within a company: system admins, DBAs, management personnel when discussing performance issues or improvements.

As of the time of writing of this article the product does not have an announced price, so I cannot include any comments on this subject.

Review Summary:

I have divided my review of the Red Gate’s SQL Monitor 2.0into the following categories and rated it on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being poor and 10 being best):

DescriptionRatingComments
Installation10Very simple and standard installation.
Documentation7The product is still in Beta, but whatever documentation is available on the site is rich and well structured.
Product Stability7The product is still in Beta, however I did not encounter any serious stability issues.
Usability10Easy access flow – at any given time the user is maximum 3 clicks away from the information a DBA needs
Feature Set6It is a new product, however it is well stabilized on a rich ground for future add-ons and improvements
Performance10No issues, the system is light-weight, using SMO, WMI, Remote registry etc technology to gather information in the most efficient way.
Support10Outstanding support, great support forum.
Value10Simplifies the life of the DBA hundreds of times by automating the most daunting and tedious daily tasks, freeing up time to hands-on work on solving problems
Average8.75 Product is very close to excellent.

/Feodor Georgiev