Monitoring Failed Job Steps in SQLServerCentral.com, I
got an email from the representative of a company called InterCerve asking me to evaluate SQLSentry tool that the company produces.
is an SQL Server Job Management Tool that combines scheduling, monitoring,
alerting and reporting capabilities. It has 5 main functional areas:
Intelligent Outlook-style calendar view of a server’s job schedule
Detailed job monitoring using Windows performance counters
Eliminate SQL Mail from your enterprise instantly for all jobs and server
Prevents job conflicts by setting up job dependencies with the queuing
Comprehensive charts and graphs for all job performance measures
tool comes in 2 flavors: with and
without .NET v1.1 Framework. I tested version without .NET v1.1 Framework.
download the Lite version
(the only version available for download) from the company’s site
SQLSentry.net. This is not a full version but has enough features to give you a
good prospective about the software itself. It made up of two parts, database
where data reside and a front end. Database can be created on any SQL Server
machine and front end can be installed on any user computer (in most cases DBA
computer). I used my personal computer running Windows XP professional to install
front end and SQL Server 2000 Developer Edition with SP2 for the database
installation process was very simple. But there are some details you need to
keep in mind while performing installation. SQLSentry requires its own
database. It can be any database on any SQL server (even
on local machine. But I would not do it in the corporate environment. ). You
need to have admin rights to be able to install the tool. So, I created a
database first. Then the installation was simple and smooth. I installed 30
days free trial version. In order to get the Validation Code product should be
registered. Validation Code was sent to me by SQL Sentry Sales Team very promptly. As I mention, trial
version works only for 30 days and it has limited set of functionalities.
Using SQL Sentry
Let’s describe the interface and some
features. I was not using any documentation or help manual trying to understand
the interface. Basically, it looks naturally and does not require any special
explanation. I quickly looked at all screens and found that the screens can be
navigated very easy.
SQLSentry Console allows you to see and navigate through all SQL Servers and
Server Groups on the left hand side (similar to the view in SQL Server
Enterprise manager). You can see all the jobs and maintenance plans.
I like the intelligent Outlook-style calendar view of a server’s job schedule.
It allows to see the jobs scheduled. It also allows
you to see what happened and/or will happen based on your choice within 10 min,
1 hour, 4 hours, daily, 5 days, or a week from chosen date on one screen.
SQLSentry gives the choice of various filters for the jobs view. But the best
point that it has the ability to show job conflicts (not supported with Lite version).
When choosing the particular job the right button mouse click allows you to
make the next selection: Watch Job, Properties, Start Job, Stop Job, Enable/Disable
Job, Delete, and Show History.
For the most cases such as view property or create new job SQLSentry brings up
native Microsoft’s interface that DBAs are using in
SQL Server Enterprise Manager and the same happens with the performance monitor
where SQLSentry is using standard Windows built-in performance monitor, but it
conveniently integrated into SQLSentry.
I like the other tool’s features and reporting capabilities as well. It shows
run time history and run time aggregates based on interval type.
One of my assignments was at a place where we had to deal with a large number
of independently running jobs. Interaction between these jobs created a lot of
mutual lock-out, and analyzing interdependencies has been a real painful
exercise. I needed to write quick-and-dirty procedures to help with this, but
the bulk of the data was still obtained manually. I certainly wish a tool like
SQLSentry was available for me back then!
I am not going to discuss every screen neither publish the screen shots in the
article. You can look it on SQLSentry.net WEB site. Especially, when I don’t
have full enterprise version and the downloaded Lite version does not allow me to navigate through
many product features.
But I can make some remarks as to what, as a DBA, I would like to see or
Many companies already have some sort of Network/Server Monitoring tools such
as NetIQ or more basic ones. Even monitoring
integration is kind of important for the SQLSentry for it may be somewhat
difficult to convince some managers to for this functionality. (In my company,
Second point, in a lot of cases as a DBA I am not looking to manage the jobs
from external tool that basically using SQL Server Enterprise Manager. I can do
it directly in Enterprise Manager. But mostly, I am looking for an analyzing
capability, ability to view jobs on all servers at the same time, view reports,
setup alerts to control failed or long running jobs and so on.
if it were a choice to buy the tool with various flavors then, probably,
SQLSentry will be more attractive for more companies and will be more salable.
other small changes I would like to see:
- Specify Job names in all dialogs. For example: instead of ‘Would you like to
delete the job’ - ‘Would you like to delete the job
- Confirmation question for the job when I start it. For example: ‘Would you like
to start the job JOB1’.
- It would be nice to have incorporation of snapshots of all
processes/connections and commands running at the time while SQLSentry
monitoring jobs. It will allow better and more precise analysis of a jobs
- I didn’t find indications that a job is scheduled to run based on an alert.
That is very significant for me because we have lots of jobs associated with
did not really test the Technical Support of SQL Sentry as I was doing quick
review of the trial version. But I get some emails from the Technical Support team
with proposal to help me if I need it. The downloaded tutorial, installation
guide, and documentation were written clearly and have enough information for
any required issues. In addition to installation notes and documentation there
is a section with FAQs on the WEB site.
offers online support as well. I didn’t research for the other support possibilities.
In general I like the tool and would like to have it for the SQL Server job
analysis purpose. A
full version, in my opinion, is reasonable to have only if a DBA is required to
manage multiple SQL Servers (more than 4-5) or if SQL Server has multiple (20+)
jobs that must be synchronized and analyzed for proper scheduling or
will be even more attractive if companies will have an ability to choose from
2-3 various option bundles.
is best for each reader interest to contact the vendor directly.
Category Rating Comment
of Use 5 Basically
is not required any documentation
Feature Set 4 Great job. But some features
should be added (see in article)
Lack of Bugs 5 Did not find any
bugs during my short review
Value N/A Since price
was not obtained a value rating is hard to give
Technical Support N/A Not
tested, but seems very professional
Documentation 5 Good
hands on tutorial and documentation.
Performance 4 Some
screen refreshing issues
Installation 5 No
Learning Curve 5 No
issues. Takes few hours to start working with product
Overall 4 Need
a choice to buy the tool with various flavors
Sentry Information Guide: http://www.SQLSentry.net/SQL_Sentry_Info_Guide.pdf