Roundup of T-SQL Tuesday #66: Monitoring

T-SQL TuesdayT-SQL Tuesday #66 was hosted by me on May 12th. The topic of the month was Monitoring. We all monitor something while working with SQL Server, and this month’s blog posts covers all kinds of topics by DBAs, developers and BI professionals.

T-SQL Tuesday #66 blog posts:
• Aaron Bertrand (@AaronBertrand) shows how you can use trace flags to babysit slow backups or restores.

• Andy Yun (@SQLBek) reminds us that monitoring in development is important too! Deal with problems before they reach your production environment.

• Angela Henry (@SQLSwimmer) tells how she became a better DBA by creating her own monitoring solution, and how having a monitoring solution in your toolbox can save you from having to look for a new job!

• Ben Miller (@DBAduck) shares his PowerShell script for monitoring tables to watch trends of growth and activity in a database.

• Boris Hristov (@BorisHristov) encourages IT managers and decision makers to ensure that teams also show how to monitor solutions, and not just implement the latest cutting-edge technologies and expect it to work immediately.

• Cathrine Wilhelmsen (@cathrinew) shows an example of a Real Time Monitoring solution developed in her company.

• Chris Sommer (@cjsommer) points out some of the most important things a DBA must monitor, and also links to his recent post about Monitoring SQL Server Agent Jobs by using PowerShell.

• Daniel Mellor ‏(@sqlsanctum) shows you step-by-step how to use the Utility Explorer to create a dashboard for monitoring and baselining SQL Server CPU and storage resources.

• Ed Leighton-Dick ‏(@eleightondick) explains how to use tables in the msdb database to monitor your backups.

• Jason Brimhall (@sqlrnnr) discusses different monitoring approaches and methodologies.

• Jason Hall (@SQLSaurus) reminds us to monitor the monitoring systems, they are also important parts of your environment.

• Jeffrey Verheul (@DevJef) writes about different solutions you can use to monitor your environments.

• Kenneth Fisher (@sqlstudent144) writes about a three tiered approach to monitoring when your company is unable to invest in monitoring solution licenses for hundreds of instances.

• Lori Edwards (@loriedwards) reminds us that effective monitoring is more than just a high number of alerts.

• Malathi Mahadevan (@sqlmal) uses a combination of third-party tools, out-of-the-box tools and custom tools to monitor environments.

• Michael Bourgon ‏(@Mbourgon) shares a PowerShell script for capturing multiple servers’ Event Logs to a database.

• Mickey Stuewe (@SQLMickey) created a custom solution to monitor all reports and shares the scripts used.

• Nicky van Vroenhoven (@NickyvV) joins the T-SQL Tuesday blog party for the first time and shares what is important for him to monitor as a SQL / BI developer.

• Richard Douglas (‏@SQLRich) writes about the sneaky Error 825 that disguises itself as just an informational message and why this should be explicitly monitored.

• Rob Farley (@rob_farley) shows how to monitor skew in PDW and how it should be tracked over time when your data changes.

• Robert L Davis (@SQLSoldier) explains how to make sense of errors in the Replication Monitor.

• Robert Pearl (@PearlKnows) writes about how important it is to monitor your systems for a healthy SQL environment.

• Robert Verell ‏(@SQLCowbell) shares how to use WMI and WQL with the native alert system to monitor security.

• Steve Jones (@way0utwest) takes a more philosophical approach to monitoring and talks about why it is important to capture and monitor specific information that is critical to you.

• Steve Thompson (@Steve_TSQL) shows how to identify potential bottlenecks by using Performance Monitor.

• Tim Peters (@tpet1433) uses the Legend of Zelda Triforce to illustrate how solutions can be both easy, helpful and cheap.

• Volker Bachmann (@VolkerBachmann) shares his step-by-step approach to implementing base monitoring.

• And finally Björn Peters (@SQL_aus_HH) joined T-SQL Tuesday with a German post: Self-Repairing-Monitoring Solution oder was einem noch so versprochen wird.

Key takeaways
Monitoring is a very wide, but also very important topic for all of us. Be proactive and monitor your databases, servers and environments (even test and development), and make it a goal to discover issues before your end users alert you. Invest in vendor solutions, use the tools available in SQL Server or write your own custom solutions, just make sure you monitor what is critical in your company. Capture data to see trends over time and use PowerShell to automate tasks. Also don’t forget to monitor the monitoring solutions!

Want to participate or read more?
Monitor the #tsql2sday hastag on Twitter the first week each month for the invitations. Steve Jones (@way0utwest) keeps an updated list of all previous T-SQL Tuesday Topics. If you ever need inspiration to write a blog post, just pick a topic and write away.

Thank you again to everyone who participated in T-SQL Tuesday #66! :)

Custom Real Time Monitoring Solution

T-SQL TuesdayThis month’s T-SQL Tuesday is hosted by me (yay, fun!) and is all about monitoring. We all monitor something while working with SQL Server, and there are so many topics to choose from. As a Data Warehouse developer I use Adam Machanic’s sp_WhoIsActive all the time, I look at the Integration Services Dashboard in SSMS to monitor SSIS package executions and I check the Job Activity Monitor for a quick overview of what’s currently running on our servers.

However, I decided to write about a custom Real Time Monitoring solution we use in my company (Storebrand) that my coworkers in Lithuania created. I couldn’t resist this opportunity to show one of our cool solutions that I get to use and to brag about how talented my coworkers are :)

Storebrand Real Time Monitoring
There are many great monitoring solutions available out there. In my department we actually use several solutions from vendors to monitor our SQL Servers and Business Intelligence environments, but we also had some very specific monitoring requirements. None of the vendor solutions available at the time were able to provide all the functionality we needed, so we built a custom real time monitoring solution:

• Easily create and edit personal projects, or collaborate on shared projects
• Web-based interface to access projects from any computer in the network
• Pick and choose specific files, databases, cubes, jobs and even job steps to monitor in each project
• Create status and quality checks, and subscribe to get alerts via e-mail or SMS if the checks fail

Continue Reading →

Invitation to T-SQL Tuesday #66: Monitoring

T-SQL TuesdayWelcome to T-SQL Tuesday #66! My name is Cathrine Wilhelmsen (@cathrinew) and I’m very happy to be your host for the T-SQL Tuesday coming up on May 12th.

Much Monitoring in the Month of May
The topic of the month is monitoring. We all monitor something while working with SQL Server: Maybe you’re a DBA who monitors database performance, an SSIS developer who monitors job and package execution, an application developer who monitors queries or a BI analyst who monitors report usage? Do you use T-SQL or PowerShell scripts? Have you created your own monitoring reports or applications? Have you invested in a complete monitoring solution from a vendor? What is monitored manually and what is automated with alerts? If a brand new SQL Server professional in your role asks you for advice, what do you say is the number one most important thing to monitor? Have you ever stayed awake for a week solving a problem that could have been avoided with proper monitoring? Did you implement a monitoring solution that saved your company?

Be creative! There are so many topics to choose from, and you can of course write about anything you want as long as it is related to SQL Server and monitoring. It doesn’t matter if you’re new to SQL Server or have decades of experience, whether your blog post is short or long, an introduction or a deep dive, if you include scripts or screen shots… Just join the party and have fun while you share your knowledge. (And if you joined the #SQLNewBlogger challenge in April, this is a great way to keep blogging!)

What is this T-SQL Tuesday thing?
T-SQL Tuesday is a monthly blog party started by Adam Machanic (@AdamMachanic) back in 2009. The concept is simple: The host of the month picks a SQL-related topic and writes an invitation on the first Tuesday of the month. All bloggers are welcome to join in, they have one week to write a blog post about the chosen topic and publish their post on the second Tuesday of the month. The host then writes a summary of all the participating blog posts.

How do I participate?

  1. Write a blog post about Monitoring
  2. Include the T-SQL Tuesday logo and link it back to this invitation blog post
  3. Publish your blog post on Tuesday, May 12th between 00:00 and 23:59 GMT
  4. Leave a reply below with the URL to your blog post (if you don’t see a pingback to it)
  5. Tweet about your blog post using the #tsql2sday hashtag (and if you really want to make sure I see your post you can also add my Twitter handle @cathrinew)

That’s it! I can’t wait to read your blog posts and learn something new :) Ready… set… blog!

Preparing for and taking exam 70-463 (Implementing a Data Warehouse with Microsoft SQL Server 2012)

One of my goals is to become a Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert: Business Intelligence. I decided to start from scratch and take the three exams required for Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA): SQL Server 2012 to learn as much as possible. I passed exam 70-461 (Querying Microsoft SQL Server 2012) in January and decided to take exam 70-463 (Implementing a Data Warehouse with Microsoft SQL Server 2012) next. I passed in April :)

Preparing for the exam
I work in a Business Intelligence department and mainly focus on Data Warehouse and SSIS development. Most of my preparation has been working on real projects for over five years and it is by far the best learning experience. I focused mainly on learning the new features in 2012/2014 and features I haven’t used as much in projects: SSISDB, Project Deployment, Environments, Parameters, Data Quality Services (DQS), Master Data Services (MDS), Data Mining, Change Data Capture (CDC), Transactions, Checkpoints and Fuzzy transformations.

My plan was to work my way through each chapter in the Training Kit book, but I skimmed through half of it and skipped the exercises and practices that I already felt comfortable with. I answered all the quick check questions, lesson review questions, and case scenarios out loud to myself. The practice tests that came with the book were great for identifying knowledge gaps.

I completed the Implementing a Data Warehouse with SQL Server Jump Start on Microsoft Virtual Academy and I watched this prep video:

Finally, I went through the list of skills measured and made sure that I felt comfortable with everything mentioned there.

Taking the exam
The exam itself was 50 questions that I had to answer in 120 minutes. Some were simple questions with one correct answer, some were multiple-choice, some were drag-and-drop where you had to choose a certain number of code snippets or steps and place them in the correct order, and some were questions where you had to interact with a GUI and select the correct settings and options.

The different kinds of questions made the exam very interesting, but some questions were actually more difficult than I expected. The questions I found the most difficult were about installing, maintaining, backing up and restoring because this is not something I have a lot of practical experience with – I mainly use features after they have been installed. Make sure you know most of the things in the list of skills measured, focus on the new features in 2012/2014, and get some hands-on experience.

As soon as you end your exam you will see your score and if you pass or fail. Good luck on your exam! :)

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