General How will SQL Sentry software help my business save money? Our customers measure real savings in several ways:
DBA productivity is increased - via a much more efficient, user-friendly interface for dealing with performance issues.
Downtime is reduced - with more reliable and informative notifications, support personnel can respond more quickly and effectively to downtime situations.
Database performance is increased - by ensuring schedules are leveled, contention issues are minimized, resource intensive queries, blocks and deadlocks are detected and reduced thus maximizing application performance and available hardware resources.
If I already have a SQL Server monitoring tool, do I need SQL Sentry software? SQL Sentry Event Manager and Performance Advisor were developed directly from our experiences managing a large SQL Server environment. Other tools didn’t provide complete and actionable information and put unacceptable load on the monitored servers. Even if you have a tool that may perform some of the features already found in SQL Sentry products, they likely do it less efficiently and with more overhead. In addition to this, there are many features not found in other products.
Performance Advisor’s unique features include: :
Real-time and historical performance analysis for any timeframe
Patent pending Disk Activity view showing real-time disk activity down to the file level
One click and automated Quick Trace functionality
Graphical deadlock analysis
Event Manager’s focus is on three primary areas:
Providing an intuitive visual interface for event scheduling and management
Performing detailed performance monitoring related specifically to jobs or tasks
Providing reliable, detailed notifications as well as a variety of other response conditions (Execute SQL, Execute Process, Kill Task, etc.) for various event types
Event Manager is the only tool of its kind, so if your needs are in one of the above 3 areas, Event Manager will add significant benefits to your operations over and above what you are currently receiving from other tools.
How is SQL Sentry licensed? Our licensing model is simple to follow. A license is required for each SQL Server instance, Task Scheduler or Oracle server that is being watched by Event Manager and/or Performance Advisor. We only require one license for a clustered instance of SQL Server.
How much does SQL Sentry software cost?
Performance Advisor for SQL Server - $1495 per server instance plus $299/year for software maintenance and support.
Performance Advisor Analysis Services - $2495 per server instance plus $499/year for software maintenance and support.
Event Manager for SQL Server - $995 per server instance plus $199/year for software maintenance and support.
Event Manager for Task Scheduler - $295 per instance plus $59/year for software maintenance and support.
Go to pricing for complete details on Quick Start Packs and other purchasing information.
What kind of automation can I perform with SQL Sentry
software? In addition to sending notifications for any condition, Event Manager and Performance Advisor can also take actions such as executing another job, executing a SQL statement, or executing a process on any server that Event Manager is watching. Certain conditions allow you to automate a Quick Trace when you are monitoring a server with both Event Manager and Performance Advisor.
Also, Event Manager provides advanced chaining functionality that
allows you to create complex, multi-level chains of jobs and tasks
across your servers, as well as queuing features to prevent multiple
jobs from running concurrently.
How can Event Manager help me optimize SQL Server performance? Server schedule issues are one of the biggest "hidden" contributors to performance degradation and a lack of reliable notifications via the native tools only compounds the issue. Event Manager provides all of the tools a DBA needs to efficiently manage complex job schedules along with Windows Task Scheduler tasks, Reporting Services reports and DTS packages, in order to minimize schedule contention and other performance problems caused by "unoptimized" schedules... and to reliably alert the DBA when there are issues requiring attention. Event Manager is not intended to replace all general performance monitoring tools and most clients use Event Manager alongside those systems since they don't provide the visual scheduling, schedule performance monitoring, and notification features that we do. The productivity benefit is that the busy DBA can reduce the time spent on mundane daily tasks and concentrate on strategic management of their SQL Server environment.
How can scheduled events impact server or application performance? Almost every event (SQL Agent job, DTS Package, Windows Task, etc.) incurs some level of overhead in the areas of CPU utilization, memory usage, disk I/O, network I/O, locking, blocking, connections, and many others. How much and what mix is of course dependent on what the events are doing. Problems often arise when events are scheduled to run at inopportune times, or when more than one event is inadvertently scheduled to run concurrently. Both of these scenarios can cause contention for server resources and cause degraded performance on the server.
What is a "schedule conflict"? Event Manager considers a schedule conflict to be when more than one
event is scheduled to run concurrently. This can also be referred to as
a "runtime overlap" or "schedule collision" condition. Event Manager
automatically highlights existing conflicts in orange on the calendar,
and they can be easily resolved via drag-and-drop.
In addition to jobs, what other kind of events can Event Manager monitor? Following is a list of event sources Event Manager currently monitors:
SQL Server Agent Jobs
SQL Server Maintenance Plans (SQL Server 2000)
SQL Server Agent Alerts
DTS Packages (SQL Server 2000)
Reporting Services Reports
SQL Server Agent Log
Legacy DTS Packages
How can Event Manager help prevent resource contention? The tools a DBA has traditionally had at his or
her disposal for SQL Server schedule management have made it very
difficult or impossible to avoid scheduling issues that lead to resource
contention, and ultimately application performance issues. Event Manager
dramatically increases the ability for DBA's to:
View the current state of schedule activity on any server
Capture the full impact an event or combination of events are having on server and application performance
Quickly assess contention levels across a "shared resource" such as file storage areas, tape libraries, etc.
Easily make scheduling changes to minimize issues caused by resource contention.
How can SQL Sentry software help me in relation to Sarbanes-Oxley compliance? There are several things we do that can help an organization with SOX
compliance with regard to their SQL Server environment, including:
The "Notes" feature allows team members to store and share detailed resolution steps, escalation procedures, and other critical information related to any object managed by Event Manager (Jobs, Tasks, DTS packages, Maint Plans, etc.)
Audit trails for various activities, including adding/deleting/changing scheduled events.
Consolidated, detailed logs for all Event Manager conditions and actions (General, Failsafe, and Audit).
Chaining feature enables defining and enforcing relationships and workflow processes between jobs and tasks.
Detailed reports of all Event Manager configuration settings.
Does SQL Sentry software support monitoring of clusters and how would I monitor the clusters? Event Manager and Performance Advisor fully support clusters and only need to know the virtual name of the clustered SQL Server instance. Performance Advisor can also notify on Cluster Failover.
Installation and Setup How long does it take to install SQL Sentry software? Event Manager and Performance Advisor are simple to install and configure. Small to medium sized installations (1-50 SQL Servers) can typically be installed within an hour. Larger enterprises with hundreds of SQL Servers can be up and running within a few hours.
Does Event Manager or Performance Advisor require installing "agents" on every SQL Server? No, SQL Sentry does not utilize agents. Instead it uses a lightweight polling architecture which actually incurs less server and network overhead than most agent-based systems…and without all of the installation and ongoing management overhead of agents.
Is SQL Sentry software dependent on SQL Mail or MAPI? No, the software utilizes a robust SMTP-based notification system which can completely eliminate SQL Mail and MAPI from most environments.
Does Event Manager or Performance Advisor require their own server hardware? Not usually. The SQL Sentry Server service can typically be installed side-by-side on servers running other applications or monitoring systems.
Do I have to recreate all of my servers and groups? No, the SQL Sentry Console mirrors your existing Management Studio environment, dramatically reducing setup and configuration time.
Does Event Manager replace SQL Server Agent’s job scheduler? Not currently. For the most part SQL Agent’s scheduler itself does a fine job, and so we let it do what it does best -- schedule jobs. Event Manager effectively acts as a wrapper around SQL Agent, providing many new features and functions SQL Agent doesn’t, including an intuitive visual calendar, comprehensive job performance monitoring, and reliable, detailed notifications. We also provide these same features for Windows Task Scheduler and SQL Server Reporting Services, and will provide them for other schedulers in the future.
Will I still need to use SQL Server Management Studio for any job management functions? Not always, but in some cases yes. Many aspects of job management can be handled from the SQL Sentry interface. For the items that do require Management Studio, you will be prompted to open it when needed. In these few cases, SQL Sentry actually handles talking to Management Studio for you.
Where is SQL Sentry software installed? The SQL Sentry Console, SQL Sentry Server service, and database can all be installed on the same computer, or they can be distributed on separate computers. In a typical installation, the console will be installed on your workstation computer(s), the database installed on a SQL Server 2000, 2005 or 2008 instance on your local area network, and the server service installed on the same computer as the SQL Sentry database, or another non-production server in the same LAN. The console(s) and server service(s) are each configured to point to the same SQL Sentry database during setup.
Is SQL Sentry software difficult to configure? SQL Sentry software is now easier than ever to configure with the Quick Start Wizard, which runs the first time you open the SQL Sentry Console. The wizard incorporates most of the steps documented in the Quick Start Guide in a simple and easy to follow process.
Alerting Can SQL Sentry software handle all notifications and alerting for my SQL Servers? Yes, Event Manager and Performance Advisor provide notifications for over 100 conditions. In fact there are 13 conditions for SQL Agent jobs alone! Also, if you are using xp sendmail or xp send dbmail (SQL Server 2005/2008) you can use our interface compatible replacements, sp sentry mail or sp sentry dbmail.
Can SQL Sentry software tell me when events are running long? Yes. This is easily accomplished with Event Manager by enabling the Runtime Threshold Max
conditions for SQL Agent jobs, Windows tasks, Reporting Services
reports, or any other event types that have duration. Event Manager
continuously monitors running events and generates alerts based on
specific minimum or maximum runtime thresholds, either explicit or
percentage-based. With "global" runtime thresholds you can be alerted
whenever any event in your enterprise exceeds a runtime threshold. The
global settings can then be easily overridden at the server or event
object level. In addition to sending email or pager notifications, Event
Manager can also be set to automatically terminate a long-running event.
Additionally, Performance Advisor can detect and notify any long running queries, as well as blocking beyond a defined threshold. Those thresholds can be set globally as well as at the server level.
Performance How scalable is SQL Sentry software? SQL Sentry products have been built to handle the largest SQL Server environments. You can monitor any servers with just Event Manager, just Performance Advisor, or both. The integration of both products within the same console provides additional functionality not available through either product alone. Utilizing multiple SQL Sentry Server services provides scalability and fault tolerance.
What performance impact will SQL Sentry software have on my network and servers? The last thing you want is for a monitoring system to cause more performance problems than it solves, and we understand that. The light-weight polling architecture utilized by SQL Sentry incurs the minimum possible overhead on your network and servers. SQL Sentry retrieves only the data it needs, and only as often as it needs it, no more. As a result the server and network overhead is significantly lower than other popular monitoring tools for SQL Server, and is typically at or less than the overhead incurred by SQL Server Agent itself. You can also easily adjust all polling frequencies to suit your particular needs.
The only way to get the absolute truth about impact is to test it for yourself, in your own environment, using your hardware, data, network, usage patterns, etc. However, we realize that customers may not have an environment yet, or may not have a suitable replica of their production environment. To help, we've created an in-depth analysis of SQL Sentry's Overhead to show, in our simulated environment, roughly how much additional load is placed on a single monitored server, and the total load placed on the monitoring servers when they are watching 1, 10, 25, 50 and 100 SQL Server instances.
How reliable are the notifications generated by SQL Sentry? Even a single SQL Sentry Server service can provide a higher level of reliability for notifications than SQL Mail, and this is due in no small part to the fact that SQL Sentry doesn't depend on MAPI and is not distributed across all servers. You can easily cluster multiple SQL Sentry Servers, and if any fail the others will automatically pick up the load, ensuring notifications are always sent.
Reporting What types of reporting does SQL Sentry provide? SQL Sentry offers an expansive list of reporting options for most features such as Performance, Disk Activity, Top SQL, configuration and others. SQL Sentry reports are generated using SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) technology. Each SQL Sentry Console includes Reporting Services Report Viewer 2010 to view them from any SQL Sentry Console. They can also be deployed to a Reporting Services 2005 and above server for distribution. In addition, event runtime graphs (aggregate and historical), performance graphs, event history, conflict reports, and many more are available from Event Manager.
Will Event Manager let me see Maintenance Plan history logs? For SQL Server 2000, maintenance plan log information is correlated with the associated jobs, and this information is included in all calendar popups, the event history log and in notifications. For newer versions of SQL Server, you can enable advanced logging using the SSIS logging options for maintenance plan jobs. Security What security does SQL Sentry use?
The SQL Sentry Console uses the authentication method and credentials defined for each registered server, so it is effectively the same security that Management Studio uses.
The SQL Sentry Server service runs in the context of a domain account which must have sysadmin privileges on each "watched" SQL Server. If watching Windows Task Scheduler or using Performance Advisor, the account must also be a domain administrator or local administrator on each monitored Windows computer.
SQL Sentry also provides role based security on its own repository to secure different functionality for different users.
Miscellaneous Does Event Manager support SQL Server’s multi-server job administration features? Yes, it does. Event Manager interfaces seamlessly with Master (MSX) and
Target (TSX) servers, and provides a powerful multi-server calendar and
job history viewer which consolidates job history data from all target
servers into a single view.
Does SQL Sentry software work with SQL Server 2008? Yes, it does. Event Manager provides our complete Visual Schedule Management and Notification features for SQL Server 2008. Performance Advisor also fully supports SQL Server 2008 performance analysis. Additionally, we currently support SQL Server 2008 Reporting Services, as well as "legacy" SQL Server 2000 DTS Packages on upgraded SQL Server instances.
Does SQL Server 2008 eliminate the need for SQL Sentry software? No. As a matter fact SQL Server 2008 creates an even greater need for Event Manager in many cases, since it offers even more powerful and flexible features related to job scheduling, including the ability to create reusable schedules. Also, SQL Server 2008's new features like Resource Governor makes an efficient and robust performance monitoring tool like Performance Advisor even more valuable.
What is chaining and queuing? The primary difference between chaining and queuing is that each event that is represented as a node in the chain is not scheduled but started if the conditions specified are met. The only objects that might be scheduled are the ones that start the chain. Also, chaining may involve windows tasks as well as jobs and can contain links across watched servers. You would commonly want to use a chain when you have several events that must occur in the right order based on certain conditions. Queuing pertains only to SQL Agent jobs on the same SQL Server instance. Also, all jobs must be scheduled in order to be queued. The primary reason for queuing is not to start other jobs, as in chaining, but to delay the start of other jobs so that the queuing job does not conflict with any other jobs that may contend for the same resources while it is running.
Event Chains support Task Scheduler Tasks as well as SQL Server Jobs, and Oracle database jobs. Event Chains also support multiple conditions and branches to the same chain. For example, two jobs must succeed before the next job is started. Finally, Event Chains allow the same job to be involved in multiple links in the chain without creating a circular reference through the concept of nodes. More explanation and examples of those types of chains are shown in the user guide.
Click here for more info.
Why should I consider SQL Sentry software before I install SQL Server 2008? SQL Sentry will save you
considerable time if you install it before you install
SQL Server 2008. The notification system in SQL Server
2005 and 2008, Database Mail, requires roughly the same
level of configuration as MAPI & SQL Mail did, even more
in some cases. To configure Database Mail you will still
need to touch every SQL Server, and every job and alert
on every server. With Event Manager you can quickly
configure notifications across all SQL Servers at once,
whether you have 2 or 200 servers. So installing Event
Manager today will save you the considerable time and
effort of configuring, activating, and testing Database
Mail on each and every SQL Server 2008 instance. In
addition, you will end up with a more comprehensive,
flexible, and robust notification system. See our
What technologies does SQL Sentry use? SQL Sentry software is developed entirely with .NET 4.0 using C#.
Check out Greg's blog and our videos for what's new in SQL Sentry v7! Download Performance Advisor, Event Manager, and Fragmentation Manager together.