SQL Server Monitoring: Moving from Reactive to Proactive Database Monitoring and Management

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Introduction to SQL Server Monitoring

SQL Server database monitoring and management is something that not only aids businesses in keeping data secure and available, but it is a process that allows businesses to scale and move towards their enterprise goals. Database monitoring is the collection and analysis of SQL Server performance and usage of data. With monitoring, performance optimization can be performed for a data platform. Monitoring your SQL Server instances also provides the analytics needed to perform a root cause analysis (RCA), which in the long-term, will help to alleviate, if not diminish, downtime. For any enterprise seeking to engage with a database managed service provider for SQL Server, or if the business is seeking to have their monitoring and management done in-house, it is important to know the difference between reactive and proactive monitoring, and why you should solely look to engage with a managed service provider (MSP) who performs proactive database monitoring.

Reactive SQL Server Monitoring vs. Proactive Monitoring

Reactive SQL Server monitoring may sometimes consist of manual checks and does not include the use of automation. With this type of monitoring, DBAs on the team are not utilizing tools that highlight problem areas, and because of this, issues tend to be solved after they have occurred, instead of being prevented. This essentially leads to increased costs for the business – funds that can be used elsewhere – and it slows the growth of the company.

When a database managed service provider connects their monitoring tools to a business’s database to begin their proactive monitoring, a throughput baseline is established. The baseline is created for all other operations to be measured against which is highly important when updating, and for any maintenance events. Proactive SQL Server monitoring consistently checks whether databases are online at regular intervals during core business hours and non-core business hours. These checks are done through automation that will alert you of an outage. Poor performance can come from bad database design, non-existing indexes, unmanaged database statistics, and other various factors. With proactive monitoring, the technical team is actively troubleshooting the database performance to prevent issues that can derive from poor performance. Additionally, changes happening within the databases are also being tracked in the case that database function, views, or tables are dropped because of a modification.

The Importance and Goals of SQL Server Database Monitoring and Management

There are numerous benefits of having a proactive method of database monitoring. With active monitoring and management, there is an ability to solve and prevent urgent problems. If the method of SQL Server monitoring is reactive, when an issue occurs, there is a need to replicate the issue which can be difficult and costly. Another benefit of proactive monitoring is that it provides insight into bottlenecks, “noisy neighbors”, and peak utilization which can result in a few issues occurring. With fewer issues, there is a reduction in the risk of downtime, and it is no secret that downtime can be costly to a business due to services not being available to the customers, and loss of productivity from the team since the team is now focusing on bringing the databases back to optimal availability.

To provide a high-level view, here are the greatest benefits that come from proactive monitoring:

  • Reduces the need for troubleshooting when a database begins to have performance issues, as proactive monitoring allows DBAs to correct problems early
  • DBAs can work on bigger priority business functions as there is no need for the team to be putting out fires when they occur as the systems become predictable
  • Database managed service provider gets to know your systems and provides consulting on where improvements can be made such as consolidations, upgrades, etc.
  • Health checks are performed so that an awareness of the SQL Server is maintained, and the most critical issues can be addressed first
  • Alerting for any crucial issues such as consumption changes; these issues become easy to diagnose and correct to avoid extended downtime or a slow server

Essentially, with proactive monitoring from a database managed service provider, a business can free the team from the task of monitoring and managing which then will allow them to focus on supporting business growth and other important internal tasks, rather than solving database issues that will arise with only reactive monitoring in place.

SQL Server Metrics Monitored with Database Monitoring and Management

Proactive monitoring and management are not only about putting out fires but can provide insights and metrics that are important to understanding how your databases are functioning. These metrics are important to have because it will allow for an establishment and review of baseline performance and a deeper look into the resources being used by the database.

Here are some of the metrics that are monitored:

  • Dynamic Management Views (DMVs) – determines what is occurring on a particular SQL Server instance
  • Network Traffic and Activity – shows how users are interacting with the server and are reviewed to look for issues interfering with the performance
  • Storage – insight into file access, storage capacity and performance, and storage allocation
  • Query Processor – analysis of the queries being processed, the length of time to process, and what resources are being used

Database Monitoring and Management in Database Managed Services

Having your systems monitored and managed by a database managed service provider is an investment that will provide your business with great ROI. These benefits consist of:

  • Allowing your business to control costs internally
  • Gaining access to expert resources who are handling the legwork of maintaining your databases
  • Monitoring for security so that your data stays available, identifiable, and secure which is especially important for databases containing personal data
  • Getting access to database consulting services to identify areas for business growth

Also, by engaging with a next-generation SQL Server or other database technology managed service provider, you may be provided with unique access to tools and updates to databases that are created, housed, and developed by that specific managed service provider. At Fortified Data, we are actively rolling out new tools for our managed service clients that will allow them to view their databases like our skilled team currently does and be kept up to date with any changes and health checks.

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