Database administrators have a lot of responsibilities, from general database management to capacity planning to ensuring high availability and disaster recovery. With so many irons in the fire, DBAs should embrace proactive database monitoring to help them maintain their sanity (and their database performance).
Proactive database monitoring is the practice of tracking database metrics so performance issues are identified early—before they cause major problems. Proactive monitoring takes some of the stress out of maintaining databases because DBAs don’t have to live in reactive mode, constantly putting out fire after fire.
With the wealth of tools on the market today, setting up proactive database monitoring isn’t difficult, and the time gained from having identified and addressed performance issues early more than makes up for the initial effort.
If you are tired of being at the mercy of your databases’ performance needs, it’s time to take advantage of these five benefits of proactive database monitoring.
Proactive Database Monitoring Reduces the Need for Emergency Troubleshooting
When you are constantly having to drop everything to fix database performance problems, it’s easy to lose sight of what is causing the problem in the first place. Getting and keeping your system online is always a DBA’s first priority. If your databases are constantly throwing alerts, there is little time left to drill down and address the root cause.
Implementing a proactive monitoring strategy provides DBAs with data that shows changes in database functions as they happen so DBAs can correct problems early before they negatively affect performance.
By tracking these metrics over time, DBAs can more easily see where repeat problems originate, which decreases time spent blindly poking around looking for the cause.
Proactive Database Monitoring Frees up Time to Work on High-Value Projects
When DBAs aren’t putting out performance fires, they have many responsibilities that are integral to a business’s success. DBAs not only work behind the scenes to ensure internal operations run uninterrupted, but they also maintain database security and integrity among other critical tasks.
Proactive database monitoring lets DBAs automate repetitive but time-consuming tasks so they are free to work on other, higher-value work that directly benefits the organization’s business objectives.
Proactive Database Monitoring Identifies Growth and Improvement Opportunities
Tracking performance metrics over time shows which areas of the database need tuning. Long wait times, slow queries, and excessive resource usage are just a few examples of performance metrics that can be proactively monitored to pinpoint problems within the system.
Once problematic functions are identified, performance tuning can optimize the system to run more efficiently, which will improve the overall quality of the user experience both internally and outward-facing.
Conducting regularly scheduled health checks as part of a proactive database performance monitoring strategy is another way DBAs maintain awareness of SQL Server performance issues so they can prioritize and fix the most critical problems first.
Proactive Database Monitoring Provides Early Alerts for Availability and Resource Consumption Changes
One of the best ways to proactively monitor your databases for performance issues is to make sure you are taking full advantage of your monitoring tools’ alarm options.
Customized alarms let you decide when and how you will receive alerts. The best tools let you define the severity level and thresholds that trigger an alarm. You also have the option to disable alarms, require manual acknowledgment of certain alarms, or exclude alarms for certain values.
Smart alarms are available with select monitoring tools. These alarms not only tell you there is a problem but also offer possible solutions. With an intuitive, easy-to-interpret interface, smart alarms show you what happened just before and after the alarm was triggered to help facilitate diagnosis and remediation.
Tracking your system’s alarm history provides a comprehensive overview of recurring performance problems or of events that trigger false alarms so they can be addressed.
Proactive Database Monitoring Creates a Throughput Baseline
Proactive database monitoring provides value beyond identifying performance issues as they happen. Proactively tracking data creates a baseline against which all operations can be measured.
Setting a normal operation baseline will let you know when everything within the system is running well, which is especially important after updates and significant maintenance events. Baseline data can also be used to pinpoint unexpected deviations that may indicate a system failure is imminent.
Knowing what "normal" looks like for your databases makes it easier to set realistic alert thresholds to minimize false alarms and unnecessary triage efforts.
In almost every situation, when given a choice, proactively addressing a problem is preferable to having to react in the moment. When it comes to database performance monitoring, creating a proactive monitoring strategy will help prevent issues that cause slow load times, system failures and unavailability, and other performance killers that will eventually negatively affect external users, internal operations, and possibly even company revenue.