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Don't Build a Monitoring System Expand / Collapse
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Posted Monday, September 14, 2009 7:10 AM
SSChasing Mays

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Working for a development house, we understand that our clients may not have all the tools of our choice, and that we need to be able to understand what is going on with SQL Server given the native utilities. If you don't understand the anatomy, it's hard to prescribe the cure.
Post #787423
Posted Monday, September 14, 2009 7:28 AM
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A comparison of a number of products could be very useful - but would also be pretty difficult to produce as by their nature these products really need to be installed and used in an enterprise environment to see their real potential (and weaknesses).

Maybe more realistic would be an article about what features to look for in such tools - and have this a a fluid document for a bit so that it can be enhanced with other requirements etc from comments in these forums - the various vendors could then be encouraged to provide their response to how their tools match the collaboratively acquired list of features - and as their responses would be "branded" there is no problem with the content looking like a masquerading advert





James Horsley
Workflow Consulting Limited
Post #787441
Posted Monday, September 14, 2009 8:29 AM
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I can't speak for all those at are looking at building rather than buying a system but here are the two main reasons that we are currently building a system after using a purchased product for 3 or 4 years.

The cost per server for a purchased solution is a tough sell to managment, especially recently, however a backburner project is very low cost and can be used for all our current production, test and development servers plus any new server that are brought online without having to plea for funds for additional licenses. Not to mention with a home grown solution you don't have yearly "maintenance" fees.

Some of the tools are a bit of a chore to configure and updating to a new version will start the configuration process all over again. With a home grown solution we can focus on the metrics that we are most concerned with and store the data in a repository that fits our corporate standards so we can more easily generate performance reports for the business units to show what we are doing to enhance their server performance or to justify repacing or updating hardware.

Since all these comercial systems use SMO and WMI and the like to build there systems it isn't too much of a chore to tap into the same components to get the data we need. I have liked the system I have been using for several years but it isn't always everything I had hoped for and the licensing and fees are getting to be a tougher sell to managment every year.
Post #787503
Posted Monday, September 14, 2009 8:32 AM
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Build or Buy, good question. I believe that building is a great way to really learn a lot about SQL server and is great for small companies that are money tight. Even after saying that a 3rd party tool is the way to go. There are so many to pick from cheap to very expensive.

What if members here post a document and/or video as how each of this products work or pick a specific task that the product does really well. Who cares which is the best, as long it helps you get to where you need to do/go/fix/troubleshoot/etc. After all isn't that what we are trying to do?

Cheers,

Rudy



Post #787505
Posted Monday, September 14, 2009 8:40 AM


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Rudy Panigas (9/14/2009)
Build or Buy, good question. I believe that building is a great way to really learn a lot about SQL server and is great for small companies that are money tight. Even after saying that a 3rd party tool is the way to go. There are so many to pick from cheap to very expensive.

What if members here post a document and/or video as how each of this products work or pick a specific task that the product does really well. Who cares which is the best, as long it helps you get to where you need to do/go/fix/troubleshoot/etc. After all isn't that what we are trying to do?

Cheers,

Rudy


I agree. I'm not interested in which one is "best" because, fact is, best for you is not going to be best for me or best for the next person. Not to mention you're only going to be able to say "best for price x" because I might sacrifice a bit of functionality to save tens of thousands of dollars.

As you say, it's not which product is best, but if you're using Product Z, what's the best way to implement it? Are there gotchas to watch for, ways around them, etc. Those would make great presentations if there was a way to give them in an agnostic fashion.


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Post #787511
Posted Monday, September 14, 2009 1:18 PM


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I'm on board with Marcus... cost is a major, major factor. It's hard enough to sell a few hundred bucks for a monitoring package - but then multiply that by the number of servers in your environment, and if you're in a medium-to-large shop, it just becomes prohibitive. In most cases, we're really not all that interested in the deeper stats... we just need something that gives us a heads-up on four or five key items.

I'd love to find a relatively inexpensive SQL monitor (or a general-purpose monitor that we could write our own stats-post into) that we can buy once, and tie in to any number of servers. Or one that has a minimal cost variance depending on tiers of servers... 1-10, 11-50, 50-200, and 200+ - something like that. I could probably 'sell' $2000 for the 11-50 tier... but could never sell $30,000 just to get basic monitoring for 20 SQL Server Express boxes that we paid... $0 for. We could just as easily hire someone, and have a multi-purpose entry-level DBA trainee.

I find myself in a loop, though - I need better monitoring than I have today, I could write something basic if I wanted to take time away from other projects, but the price tag on the out-of-the-box ones that are worth the expense just keeps us away. So I just keep dragging along with mediocre monitoring and reactive corrections, and start the loop all over...
Post #787710
Posted Monday, September 14, 2009 1:26 PM
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I find it depends on the enviroment and how large/varied it is on if i would want to use 3rd party tools. I have tested numerous tools out where i work and have yet to find one that is better then rolling my own solution. I think if i was in a smaller enviroment it would be easier to rely on a 3rd party solution but we have a large number of SQL servers on many different versions so it makes it hard to gather all relavant info across 1000+ servers. Also I have found that every 3rd party tool has its pro's and con's and i don't think there could be an overall winner unless it is for a specific task. Maybe something that compared these different tools against each other on a task by task basis and also included a couple ways to do it with default MS tools would be the way to go.
Post #787716
Posted Monday, September 14, 2009 1:32 PM
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I would agree on the buy decision and I've often wondered why anyone would build their own monitoring system. And if I couldn't buy a solution I would look at several free or low cost monitoring tools before rolling my own.

I've seen Ops Mgr (SCOM) 2007 presentations at the SQL PASS Summit even though Ops Mgr isn't "free". So, perhaps as long as its a Microsoft monitoring products its OK

My local SQL user group has a no vendor product demo policy. Some of our user group attendees are from small shops that lack any tool funding and feel, rightly so, the product demos are of little value to them. I on the other hand, find the product demos useful, but I guess that's what vendor exhibit halls are for.




Post #787720
Posted Tuesday, September 15, 2009 2:41 AM


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IMO the single biggest reason why enterprises do not go down the 3rd party SQL monitoring software route is cost. Some of these performance monitoring tools are close to $1000 a server. When you have 100s of servers the incentive to build your own is high. Large enterprises already have a global monitoring solution so any additonal monitoring tools need to be motivated for and also have to intergrate seemlessly with the enterprise monitoring solution.

Any DBA worth his salt needs to be able to collect and analyse peformance data using native tools.

Having said that I would always welcome articles, sessions and reviews on monitoring products provided that the licensing and ongoing support costs are clearly listed in the article as well as associated infrastructure costs in implementing the software.


thanks

SQL_EXPAT
Post #787985
Posted Tuesday, September 15, 2009 3:05 AM
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It seems to me we have a forum here with lots of people rolling their own solutions - surely this would be an ideal open source project to harness that work into a collaborative alternative to the big money solutions that so many cannot afford or justify




James Horsley
Workflow Consulting Limited
Post #788001
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