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Monitoring Servers Using SQLCentric

By Satya Shyam,

SQLCentric Review

High Level Definition

Product: SQLCentric

Version: 2.0.1

Price: Refer to http://www.pearlknows.com

Audience: Database Administrators & Developers

Introduction

Using Server Monitoring software to manage the Enterprise-wide network is a common task for every Database Administrator and Systems Administrator; in fact this type of monitoring offers extra time to optimize other aspects in their day-to-day tasks. You might come across web referring Would you like to reduce network downtime? Know about failure immediately? If you would like to use such type of monitoring software without your intervention and avoid time spending chores, then you need SQLCentric from Pearl Knowledge Solutions Inc. This application monitors servers such as database servers, processes, memory usage etc. During the year 2004 SQL Server Magazine has awarded this application naming Best Alerting or Notification software and Best database monitoring software award.

 

Installation Options

The solution is easy with a simple installation of SQLCentric application. In order to download the software the user has to fill up few details on the web http://www.pearlknows.com/id10.html link, which is used for information purpose and send the application updates and will not be used for any third-party business purpose. Once you have downloaded the Evaluation software, when you extract the file you will be presented with a default welcome screen selection: application:

On the next screen the user will be presented with 3 options, they are Install SQLCentric version 2.0, Upgrade to SQLCentric version 2.0 from previous versions that will be useful for SQLCentric version 1.23 users and Install client component only that can be used from a Workstation remotely:

 

After Next button click the user needs enter License Keys that will be emailed when the user has filled up the details on the initial evaluation download webpage.

Only if the details are entered correctly on above screen, they will be able to advance further to install the SQLCentric application. At this stage if the user is worried about missing this information, you can drop an email to techsupport@pearlknows.com in order to get the above details; this email address can be used for customer feedback purpose as well. I feel this is a good option to get in touch with Vendor in any case if the user has any such reservations about the Application.

Once the above License details information are obtained and entered then the default End User License Agreement (EULA) will be presented to the user, which in turn must be agreed for further proceedings.

The above 2 screens are self-explanatory information for the user where the Application-components and web-components destination path must be provided. The default location of Application components is under \Program files\ directory and for web components it is \Inetpub\WWWRoot\ directory.

Now the installation comes to the important factor, where the user must select the Master SQL Server that installs the SQLCentric-master database such as monitoring tables and objects. These objects will be used as run-time modules while the monitoring is continuing. I can confirm that the user need not worry about the size of this application-master database sizes. Please note the Application Server must have IIS as a pre-requisite that installs server extensions. Occasionally the user might get Unable to create a web for the URL because its root directory 'C:\Inetpub\wwwroot\SQLCentricWeb\' falls below the root of another web in the directory 'C:\Inetpub\wwwroot' error. In order to resolve this error refer to http://www.pearlknows.com/id18.html#third link on Vendors website that refers one of the Frequently Asked Questions topics.

 

Once the master SQL Server information is provided the user has to select the Authentication mode used to connect the SQLCentric application to master SQL Server and the default Authentication mode is Trusted.

This is the last user awaiting screen to install the SQLCentric application, and then the wizard will proceed further to install the application. Once the application is installed then the user can refer to SQLC_ReadME_AfterINstall text file that will be presented on end-screen.

The user can find 2 user programs that are pertained to SQLCentric application usage as above.

Usage & Monitoring

On the first use of application the user is presented with the following screen that refers about configuring the SQLCentric application using SQLCentric_ADMIN tool.

 

SQLCentric Administration tool initial screen is as follows:

On the initial lookup at this ADMIN tool I have chosen Get Servers button to define the SQL Servers that are to be monitored by this application. This Get Servers option is uses initially the default OSQL L option, that collects the information about SQL Server broadcasts its existence on the network. It is up to users discretion either to use this default option or add the detail of each server to be monitored.

I would like to add a snippet about an Update on Monitoring SQL Servers on SAN from the Vendor as follows:

Pearl Knowledge Solutions Update: SQLCentric can and does monitor and alert on ALL logical drives/volumes. I have clients with clusters and SAN that have 8 volumes, for example, and it show status for all of them. See the image below:

 

I have joined both the screens as 1 screen above that provides error if Get Servers is failed to obtain details about SQL Servers on the network. The Server Detail screen is self-explanatory where the user can enter the required information such as Email Alert when any uneven event has occurred on the server that is enabled for SQLCentric monitoring.

The Application can be configured as a run-time with additional options; on the above screen you can see Configuration Parameters such as Max number of job alerts, Auto-enable new servers etc. The DBA can set a privilege to configure the application by entering the under Master SC Admin & SC Admin Password text boxes. By default the Cluster Support on is enabled by the Application that helps to monitor the Clustered SQL Servers automatically without defining the active node in such cases. I would like to suggest enabling Historic Reporting On option that provides the reporting information for back dates, where the DBA can assess the changes happened on a particular server that is affected with spurious errors and performance issues lately.


Lastly, in this review I would like to display the Main Monitoring Page for the SQLCentric Application Admin that gives a traffic-lights situation of servers as a whole.

The above web-page on the SQLCentric master-server can be used as an overview screen for status-monitor purpose. If the user clicks on the Server Name option the page features overview screen about version of SQL Server used & server configuration information. Obviously the Green light indicates the individual service status of that server. For instance to check whether application is monitoring or not, on the above screen I have stopped SQLAgent service of ProjectDBA SQL Server deliberately and near-instantly this Red light is displayed on the master monitoring page. This gives the user to react to the problem without any delay. Also if one of the scheduled jobs has failed the SQL Agent status will be displayed as Red, and only clicking on further the web page allows to drill further down to check whether it is a service or job failure. This sometimes may force instant reaction of the Admin to check the status and Vendor has explained this feature as that jobs disabled do not show up as a failure on the main status page,nor is the user alerted. This did not seem to be something that many testers wanted. If a job is disabled, its status is usually not checked. I feel this explanation justifies the feature and such deliberate alert will give wide option to investigate the issue further.

The alerting procedure is enabled on SQLCentric application is provided only SMTP server is available and this can be installed along with IIS application. The alerts are emailed each time the application is run and a failed status is encountered at that point of time. IN order to enable the monitoring functionality by SQLCentric the user can use the Schedule option from ADMIN tool to provide historic information during busy and easy times on SQL Servers within their network.

What is SQLCentric and what does it have to offer?

An intuitive administration module allows the user to manage servers, groups, & email operators, configure run-time parameters and alert thresholds.

Max Job Alerts will allow the user to set the number of times to be alerted for a particular failed job; it will then reset the alert for the following run time of the job. 

SQLCentric is cluster aware, and its built-in cluster failover support will monitor and alert you when a cluster fails over from one node to another.

 

The SQLCentric Scheduler Manager will let the user manage the run-time schedule of SQLCentric right from the Administration Module.

With the ability to authenticate monitored servers via SQL Authentication, Windows, or Mixed, users will be able to monitor SQL Servers in Non-Trusted Domains, DMZ/firewalls, and literally SQL Servers all around the world! 

There are many more and you can find about them from http://www.pearlknows.com/id1.html link.

The good news is the SQLCentric version 2.0 applications now supports SQL Server 2005 installations, which is add-on concept for latest happening in SQL Server world.

Post Sales Support:

I found the support during the Evaluation period and post sales as useful and instant with no frills attached, I would like to appreciate Robert Pearl patience in this situation. I have realized why the Vendor has provided initial Customer entry details to download Evaluation SQLCentric application, there is always a follow-up email about how I was getting on with the Product and to address any specific need I have at that point of time. More information about Customer Feedback and after sales support can be obtained from http://www.pearlknows.com/index.html web link.

Conclusion:

On conclusion I feel, Servers & Networks are becoming critical components of business success and Customer satisfaction, irrespective of small or big terms. When a component on network or server fails and application fails to communicate information the Monitoring software tools reduce such outages instantly and allow business to operate as usual to prevent the loss. I categorize SQLCentric as one of this featured tool that can help an Organisation to monitor the SQL Server estate without worrying about huge budgets or look for cost cutting measures. I felt the SQLCentric application is useful network monitoring software that reduces the time and money spent on network/server management and administration, a commercial product that is available for a 30-day free evaluation which is good enough to understand what it says on the tin. SQLCentric offers a range of monitoring application in the areas of SQL Server monitoring, application status, servers hardware & network status monitoring at affordable price point. The tool is catered to serve smaller networks to bigger networks that can start with these tools from Pearl Knowledge Solutions Inc. and can be migrated to the fully licensed SQLCentric version. With its simple architecture and easy configuration of collaborating point product, Pearl Knowledge Solution offers many Organizations and its Customers to deploy an integrated Monitoring software solution at highly affordable prices.

Satya Shyam K Jayanty, SQL Server MVP

satyaskj@yahoo.co.uk

Total article views: 4450 | Views in the last 30 days: -1
 
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