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  SQL Server Tips by Robin Schumacher

24 x 7 Monitoring

Ad-hoc monitoring works great when used as intended, but it loses traction under certain circumstances. Certain critical databases require special attention, which normally equates, among other things, to around-the-clock supervision. Often, the sheer number of databases that require monitoring can present problems and require that a specialized set of monitoring software be used.

For these scenarios, an enterprise database monitor or homegrown process is needed. An enterprise monitoring setup is designed to manage the performance of 24 x 7 applications as well as handle the unique needs of large SQL Server database farms. With the features of cursory and intelligent client-side monitoring components, enterprise 24 x 7 monitoring will also sport these key capabilities:

  • Provides constant, unattended monitoring of assigned databases.

  • Offers scalability features for large database farms.

  • Supplies proactive notification and correction mechanisms to minimize database downtime.

  • Provides historical analysis of performance metrics.

To be truly effective for critical databases, a database monitoring system needs to be on duty at all times. This means the monitoring system needs to be working even when the database or operations staff is not. Such a capability implies functionality far beyond the graphical user interface (GUI) normally used for assessing the performance of a database.

The 24 x 7 monitoring system polls its assigned database without the use of any visual interface and enforces predefined limits in terms of what it will accept as proper activity. To avoid downtime and large performance dips, the enterprise monitoring system must offer robust notification and automated correction mechanisms that detect performance exceptions as far in advance as possible, notify responsible parties immediately, and take action when it is instructed to do so.

The sheer size of an SQL Server database installation can be a challenge in its own right. Traditional manual ad-hoc database monitoring breaks down when the number of staff members is greatly outpaced by the number of key databases that need monitoring. Only an automated scalable approach can be confidently used to guard the availability and performance of a large database installation.

When scalability is mentioned in the context of database monitoring, it can mean many different things. However, the following is a “must have” list of capabilities that have to be present in the enterprise monitoring system for it to be effective in terms of scale:

  • Handle Increasing Monitoring Load – The monitoring system must be able to add, subtract, and handle assigned databases easily, while maintaining consistent operation.

  • Offer Intelligent Enterprise Views – The monitoring system should provide ways to quickly summarize performance across all monitored databases, and should give an idea of what is up, what is down, and what needs attention. This is not an easy thing to do in many circumstances.

The above book excerpt is from:

High-Performance SQL Server DBA
Tuning & Optimization Secrets

ISBN: 0-9761573-6-5
Robin Schumacher  


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