I ran across a post the other day from someone that was trying to find out why their maintenance plan failed. This person had received a failure notice from SQL Agent, which is good. We should all be aware of failed jobs from some sort of monitoring system. Like any good DBA, this person checked the job history, saw an error, couldn't figure it out and posted a question at SQLServerCentral, looking for help. That's a good plan for most anyone ;)
Experienced DBAs know that to debug this issue, you need to look at the maintenance plan log, which has more details. The job history contains a minimal amount of information and usually doesn't help. If you examine the maintenance plan log, it's usually easy to determine which part of the plan failed since the plans are fairly simple constructs. The really exceptional DBAs don't use maintenance plans and instead would rely on some sort of tool or well known script instead to handle their maintenance.
However why do we need to go to the maintenance plan's log? SQL Server includes the job history. It includes maintenance plans. Why doesn't the job understand there is a maintenance plan, read it's log, and return the information? Or give us a button on the job history that loads up the maintenance plan log? That's a simple thing to do, and isn't the job of software to make tasks easier?
This is one of those places where SQL Server feels a bit immature and unrefined. I understand the complexity of the entire product and the limited resources that are devoted to enhancing and growing the product. However, where are the resources that make SQL Server easier for the average and accidental DBAs to use? Those are the majority of the people using the platform.
SQL Server led the industry in producing tools that made it easy to manage and use. Other platforms are quickly catching up, however, and if SQL Server can't continue to improve its toolset, in addition to its features, people will consider other platforms. The cost of SQL Server has risen, but so has the revenue. Do us, and yourself, a favor, Microsoft. Put a team of 50 people to work on usability and improving the tooling. It will be a great investment for the future.
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