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    Top Features to Look for in a SQL Server Monitoring Tool

    By: Spotlight Cloud

    Effective SQL Server performance monitoring is critical to maintaining optimally functioning database systems, no matter how large or small the organization.

    If you are reading this, there’s a good chance you are looking to implement or update a SQL Server performance monitoring tool. Perhaps you are launching a new startup or your large enterprise is migrating its databases from an on-premises environment to a cloud server. Or maybe your organization provides mission- or life-critical services, so undiagnosed performance issues could be catastrophic.

    Whatever your reasons for wanting to maintain high-availability, high-performance databases and fix problems fast, it’s important to understand that not all SQL Server performance monitoring tools are created equal. Be sure to do your due diligence and select a solution that meets your organization’s unique needs.

    Here are some of the top features to consider when researching a new or updated SQL Server monitoring tool.

    Alarm Management

    For DBAs, alarms are both boon and bane. It’s impossible to effectively maintain high-performing databases without the help of alarms, but failing to configure them properly can result in almost nonstop interruptions and alarm fatigue.

    When selecting a performance monitoring tool, look for one that comes with pre-configured thresholds so you are ready to respond to issues immediately after launching. 

    Your tool should also allow you to customize alarms so you can change default thresholds based on your needs and preferences, as well as define priorities so you can isolate critical issues and skip the noise.

    Another valuable alarm management feature to look for is smart alarms. This feature, which is only available with select monitoring tools, tells you what was happening immediately before and after the alarm, what may have triggered the alarm, and what you can do to diagnose and start fixing the issue immediately.

    Cloud Capabilities 

    The cloud has reached mainstream acceptance in most spheres; however, there is still reticence from some of the more highly regulated industries when it comes to moving databases and performance monitoring to a cloud environment.

    One of the main sticking points has always been uncertainty about data security in the cloud. But the reality is that today’s cloud services providers have implemented security measures that surpass those of many on-premises monitoring solutions. 

    Cloud-based SQL Server monitoring tools are easily scalable to accommodate changing workload requirements. They also offer a high level of flexibility because they can be deployed in on-premises, cloud, and hybrid SQL Server database environments.

    Workload Analysis

    One of the most important functions of any SQL Server monitoring tool is to monitor and track workload data. This information helps DBAs troubleshoot performance issues and pinpoint their root causes quickly. 

    Look for a performance monitoring solution with robust workload analysis capabilities. At a minimum, the tool should dissect workloads across dimensions, be able to determine what resources are most impacting workload for a given time range, and identify how a specified user, database, host, or SQL statement affects workload.

    Mobile Monitoring

    In our app-driven culture, there is no excuse for a performance monitoring tool provider not providing mobile monitoring capabilities.

    Today’s users demand on-the-go access to everything from music to restaurants, and professional technical services are no exception. The days of DBAs being tethered to their workstations in case of a failure or system outage are over.

    The best SQL Server performance monitoring tools come equipped with mobile monitoring capabilities, so there is no need for a DBA to sacrifice work/life balance.

    Mobile monitoring apps provide all the information you need to start troubleshooting and triaging performance issues from anywhere at any time. 

    For example, Spotlight Cloud’s mobile monitoring app provides an easy-to-interpret heatmap that prioritizes your servers so you know what issue to tackle first. It also uses smart alarms that show the severity of the problem, details about the issue, and possible solutions. Many issues can be resolved remotely in just a few minutes.

    Every business—from giant corporation to two-person start-up—benefits from having a database performance monitoring solution in place. From identifying the cause of slow queries and removing deadlocks to minimizing downtime and tracking excessive CPU usage, the right monitoring tool will help you keep your databases functioning at optimal levels.

    Whether you are in the market for your first performance monitoring solution or you want to replace an out-of-date tool with one that has all the latest bells and whistles, keep these four features top of mind as you evaluate the different options in the SQL Server performance monitoring marketplace.

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    February 25, 2020 8:00:00 AM PST
    Spotlight Cloud

    Written by Spotlight Cloud

    Understand your SQL Server infrastructure health at a glance by monitoring SQL Server's relational engine, Analysis Services, Windows, VMware ESX and SQL Azure with Spotlight.