T-SQL Tuesday: Giving back to the community

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This month’s T-SQL Tuesday from Riley Major (b|t) asks us to figure out a way to give back to the community and then write about it. I’m going to go with the option to write about how and why I got started since I am already heavily involved with the community.

My first involvement with community was in 2004 at PASS Summit. At that conference, I attended two sessions that would change my life forever. One was about volunteering for PASS, and the other was titled something like ‘How to make a name for yourself’ – basically how to become well known in the community and possibly become an MVP. I decided to volunteer for PASS and signed up before leaving Orlando. I was also about to complete my master’s degree, so I knew I would have some extra free time which I could fill with writing articles. It took me two months to get that first article written and published to SQLServerCentral, but I was hooked.

Initially, I didn’t think about volunteering and writing as ways to give back exactly. I was just looking for interesting things to do. I really didn’t think about the fact that my efforts would help people all over the world learn more about SQL Server. I also didn’t realize that so many opportunities would open up for me or that I would make so many friends in the community.

If I have to narrow down what I’m most proud of, I’d have to mention two things. The first is my book Beginning T-SQL, now in its 3rd edition. The second is teaching in the CoderGirl program for LaunchCode. I have been teaching T-SQL and SSRS to women who want to make career changes as well as developing the curriculum for this class. I’m hoping that the curriculum can be used by LaunchCode in other cities around the country. It’s a lot of work, but very rewarding.

By giving back to the community, be that writing, presenting, teaching, or leading a user group, I’m making a difference in the world. My life has been enriched beyond my wildest dreams. I highly recommend taking the initial step by writing that first blog post, speaking at your local group, or just reaching out to some of us for advice on how to get started. You’ll be glad you did!

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Configuring SQL Monitor

I got to meet with the team who creates SQL Monitor today. (Yes, I have a very cool job!) Since I’m kind of new to SQL Monitor, they wanted to know what I didn’t like about it. Well, I had a hard time coming up with anything because I found it so easy to use. Once I had watched a couple of videos, I was able to find my way around easily. The tool seems very complete as well. Everything that I could think of that I wanted to monitor was either there by default or a script to add it as a custom metric was available.

Finally, I thought of something. I wanted to create an exception list for the ‘Database Unavailable’ alerts. When I went to the to the configuration page, I was hoping to see a way to add a database name that was set offline on purpose. This is what I saw:

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I didn’t see any way to set up an exception list. It would get annoying really fast to be alerted about an offline database that was purposely offline.

I knew that it could be set across the organization, group, and instance. I didn’t realize, however, that it could also be set at the database level. Just by drilling down, I could turn this alert off for an individual database!

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By default, settings are inherited from the organizational level. Below that, you can customize at the SQL Monitor group, server, instance and database level. For example, there are probably some metrics that are important for production servers that you don’t care about for development servers.

I’m back trying to think of something I don’t like about SQL Monitor. I’ll keep you posted about that. If you want to play with SQL Monitor, check out this live demo.  It’s actually monitoring Redgate’s live SQL Server instances. Enjoy!

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My First Look at SQL Monitor

I’ve used other tools for monitoring SQL Server, but this was my first look at SQL Monitor made by Redgate Software.

The first step was just to download the software and install it. It comes as part of the Redgate SQL Toolbelt, so I just had to make sure I selected the right tool from the bunch.

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After installing, I had to point it to an existing SQL Server where a database would be created, and two services would be set up. Next, I just had to supply the instance that I wanted to monitor.

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Since I was just setting all this up on a VM for a SQL in the City Streamed session, I installed everything on the same box. In a real production environment, you would probably set up a dedicated server for SQL Monitor. SQL Monitor is made to scale to hundreds of instances, so you don’t want it affecting any instances that you intend to monitor, and I also found that it needs to have enough memory to function properly.

One of the nice things about SQL Monitor, is that you do not need to install any client software. It’s completely web based. I tried it in Edge, IE, and Chrome and found no issues.

After launching the web page, I saw that it had already picked three problems with my instance! I saw those notifications less than five minutes after downloading the software. I was already impressed!

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I spent some time watching videos on the Redgate site and YouTube to learn more about the tool. In this case, since I would be presenting, I wanted to feel confident and not stumble around. I found that once I understood the layout, finding my way around was easy.

If you count the Availability Group alerts, there are about 40 alerts built-in, and you can decide which merit an email notification.

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Depending on the alert, you can configure them to meet your own requirements. For example, the “Log Backup Overdue Alert” can be configured for three thresholds. You may want to set different alert levels depending on how long since a transaction backup was performed.

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Another very cool feature is the ability to add custom metrics. Many of these were contributed by members of the Friends of Redgate program. I started out with a list of things I want to see in this type of tool. Between the built-in alerts and the available custom-built alerts, I found everything I needed.

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For those of you managing large SQL Server estates, be assured that this tool has a fantastic interface for viewing the status of hundreds of instances at once. Here is a look at our demo site which is running live against Redgate’s own production servers. You can play with this all you wish without breaking anything.

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Once an alert has been raised, drilling into it gives you quite a bit of information. You’ll see the performance metrics during that time period and a description of the problem. The description will get you started solving the issue.

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Overall, I was really impressed with SQL Monitor. It’s simple to install and use. You’ll spend some time making changes to the configuration, but it will start working immediately even if you don’t get to that right away.  

Posted in Database Administration, SQL Server Administration | 2 Comments