DBAs are a lot of like firefighters. You’re running around like crazy, extinguishing the latest disaster to strike your company’s SQL Server database. And with so much going on, it’s hard to even look at the forensics of why it caught fire in the first place.
A friend of mine recently moved up to the California mountains – about 6,000 feet above the clouds. And, from what I’ve heard… it is beautiful and peaceful up there.
But she knew that one danger in living in the forest is the threat of fire.
When they moved in – they, of course, had smoke detectors and fire extinguishers – doesn’t everyone? They were protected – so they thought...
Well, in the summer of their first year… there was a fire. It was close. And it was scary.
As they packed up their truck with their cat, dog, and valuables, they drove toward safety and looked in the rear-view mirror at their home, everything they had worked for, and wondered if it would still be there tomorrow.
Well, it was – and they were grateful. It was a close call. They were scared. But what did they learn?
They learned that just an alarm isn’t enough. To protect yourself from disaster and loss, you need to take preventive measures. So, they cleared any brush away from the house and encouraged neighbors to do the same. They installed sprinklers in and around the house and implemented an alert system to let them know about any local conditions that might lead to fire danger.
The reality is – once there is a fire, it’s often too late to protect your investment.
Implementing a database monitoring system is one way to stay proactive, measure your database health, and take action on smaller issues before they become larger ones. We'll walk through how to set up your database monitoring system, such as Spotlight Cloud, for success, and the basics of troubleshooting server issues once you're up and running.
Setting Up Your Database Monitoring System
Once you have your new database performance monitoring software, it’s time to get started. As your company’s database administrator, you’re sure to be excited about new settings, the shiniest new features, and smart monitoring with clear server readings.
But you may be wondering where to start. Setting up any new system can take some time, but a bit of quality onboarding will pay off greatly the longer you use your monitoring system.
First, let’s take a look at some basics:
Decide which instances need your utmost attention.
Arguably, every database needs monitoring. Unfortunately, you may not have the budget to cover all databases to start or you may need to prove the value of a monitoring and diagnostic systems to the budget holders before you can ramp up your coverage. Carefully select the first monitored instances. Look for those databases that underpin critical systems or processed in your organization that will be seen by a large and/or influential group of users.
Dedicate your efforts to making their life easier with more reliable and better-performing databases. A sales team that sees less frequent outages of faster reporting from a CRM or billing system will become your greatest evangelists for higher quality, more comprehensive monitoring, diagnostic and tuning capability.
Run through the prerequisites. Know your system requirements.
Because most diagnostic servers, such as Spotlight Cloud, is a SaaS solution, it does involve a data upload. Check the Deployment Guide for ports that are required to be open/require internet access. Consider installing your server on a computer that’s always switched on, then downloading the associated apps onto your phone and tablet for easy, on-the-go monitoring. The Spotlight Cloud Diagnostic server installs onto an operating system hosted by Microsoft Windows.
Download the installer.
Of course, you can’t get started on the nitty-gritty performance monitoring part of the equation without first downloading your database performance monitoring system’s installer. For on-premise systems, this can be quite laborious as you need to set up your data collection, your performance repositories, and your reporting repositories.
Thankfully it’s a quick and easy process for Spotlight Cloud. Because it is SaaS, we take care of the repository for you . The only thing you need to do is download the diagnostic server. The diagnostic server is an agentless data-collecting service that gathers performance metrics from your monitored connections. To do this, sign in to the Spotlight website with your Quest account and click download. That’s all there is to it!
Once the installer has finished, your next step is to add connections and configure them. For example, you’ll add connections to the SQL server, Windows server, and other connection types. For Spotlight Cloud, you’ll open a configuration tool that links to the connection manager. To start, just add your connections and start gathering data.
Later, you can come back and play with the many configuration options that are designed to make your life easier (e.g. you can marks times for planned outages so that you don't get alarms during these times, you can configure alarm thresholds or you can create alarm roles to suit your environment). The good news is that these all come pre-configured so you can get up and running almost immediately. To learn more about configuration, check out our Configuration Guide.
Now, you are ready to start monitoring and diagnosing issues.
Your database performance monitoring software should be up and running! Track your system easily and don’t hesitate to reach out to your support team with any questions you may have. Check out our introductory monitoring guide.
Monitoring all of your company’s technology so it doesn’t go out of date has probably been something you’ve been avoiding… But updating and “future-proofing” those systems can save you ample time as a DBA.
How to Efficiently Troubleshoot Your SQL Server
As a DBA responsible for your SQL server monitoring, you face the same risk – your company relies on the database you manage to support its critical applications and continue doing business. If something goes wrong, it can have a grave impact on productivity, customer confidence, and revenue.
What if you could take a proactive and preventive approach to database management and use tuning and diagnostics to resolve potential threats, preventing a disaster before it happens? The result? The ability to better ensure database uptime and stability.
Here are some ways that monitoring through mobile can help you efficiently troubleshoot any database issues:
Mobile SQL Server Performance Monitoring is Possible
Mobility is no longer a trend, it’s a reality for Today’s DBA.
Striking work life balance is even harder than ever. Today’s DBA is often asked to manage many more database instances and even participate in analytics, DevOps and cloud initiatives. Of all the ways your mobile devices give you flexibility, have you ever used them to monitor your SQL Server performance? Think of the peace of mind that would give you as a DBA.
We call that “Mobility Tranquility” – the freedom to monitor the health of your SQL Servers anytime and from anywhere using the Spotlight Cloud mobile app.
Why stop your life to monitor your SQL Server databases? It only makes sense to add your SQL Server performance monitoring duties to the long list of things you can do from a mobile device, where convenience reigns supreme.
Check out this Heatmap from the Spotlight Cloud mobile app:
We call this the “Dilbert manager screen” because you don’t need to know anything about SQL Server to understand how it works. But I’ll tell you anyway.
Use a Heatmap to Prioritize Database Monitoring Issues
We’ve put the biggest, reddest boxes at the top to show you where to focus your energy first – in this case, on the SQL Server instance named <insert name>. It’s simple but effective, because if you have tens or hundreds of instances running, your immediate question is usually, “What shall I focus on first?”
You could be camping in the mountains, taking a selfie at Disneyland or cheering on your favorite team at the stadium while checking the Spotlight Heatmap and phoning your fellow DBAs in Chicago to have them troubleshoot.
Lower and to the right in the Heatmap are the SQL Servers that don’t need immediate attention. You can examine them as well, but the iPad mobile app makes it clear how to set your priorities.
When you swipe right, you see details like color- and number-coded alarms against each connected SQL Server, with their associated severity: How cool is that? Information at your fingertips to make immediate and informed decisions.
This app offers 24x7 SQL Server performance monitoring and management capabilities, plus mobile diagnostics and issue resolution to keep your SQL Server environment humming.