Total SQL Analyzer Review

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Often times, I'm asked by clients to document their entire server. This

usually includes jobs, database objects and DTS packages. This used to take a

huge amount of time, even with a few make-shift scripts I had created to perform

this action. Not to mention what an utterly boring task it is for a DBA to

document the properties of each column, table, and database. FMS's new Total SQL

Analyzer to the rescue, freeing up time for people who are tired of creating

mountains of documentation. FMS's Total SQL Analyzer allows you, as a DBA or

analyst, to get back to what you really love to do.

In this review, I took a look at Total SQL Analyzer 1.00.0116. The

installation was quick, easy, and behaved flawlessly while I tried to "break

it". One item I was impressed about is that the product had a Product Update

option, which will detect if there's a later release of the product. This

feature was not completely seamless however. After detecting there was a newer

version of the product, it did not download it automatically. Instead, it opened

a browser and the download page of FMS.

The purpose of FMS Total SQL Analyzer (TSA) is to provide you with detailed

documentation about every detail on your system. From a product that specializes

in documentation, you would expect to see good online help included. I found

that not only was the online help strong, but also a hardcopy manual was

included. This is an extreme rarity for technical products.

The documentation is done completely through a wizard. Actually, if you

didn't know any better, you would think you were still in Enterprise Manager.

Within a few screens, the documentation engine cranks up, documenting every

facet of your SQL Server. This takes a substantial amount of time. As a matter

of fact, I have a Pentium III 800 and was able to go away to lunch and come back

before my databases (3 not including the system databases) on my server were

documented. The speed of TSA is my main complaint. Even when I scaled back the

depth of my documentation, it still took 30-45 minutes to run. This can be quite

intense on your database server as well as it's probed. TSA has an option to

reduce the impact on your servers though. By selecting the Minimize Server Load

option in the documentation wizard, the documentation engine will pause

occasionally so your database server is not overwhelmed. By checking this

option, your overall scan will take longer, but it's recommended against

production servers.

Once the documentation process is complete, you're ready to begin exploring

your server's properties. You can do this in the GUI by drilling down to the

specific object in question or by generating a report. One nice item about this

product is it does keep in-depth historical documentation, so if an object

changes, you can track down when it occurred and by who. The GUI also gives you

performance tips and issues it has stored in its system about your database. A

typical recommendation would be to not use NULLABLE fields or to use a

non-variable character field. The GUI was very easy to learn because it looked

like the familiar Enterprise Manager for SQL Server 2000.  I liked that as

you drilled into each object, it showed you the DDL statement to create the

object, but a negative is that you can't export this into notepad or similar

tool.

As one would expect, the reports are the best feature of the application.

They're a very flexible way of exporting the results of the documentation into a

highly-presentable format that I can easily hand to a client and make my own.

You can edit the style of the report to strip out any FMS information. You can

export it into HTML style format or Word. Keep in mind that as you would hope,

these reports can be quite large. Just exporting a small database ran over a 100

pages in documentation. This is the beauty of the product. Imagine how boring

this task would be if I were to manually do this. TSA gives you tons of types of

reports and you can generate a report for any type of SQL Server object.

Total SQL Server Analyzer is an invaluable tool that can save you time in

preparing documentation, whether for Business Analyst, customers, or for

disaster recovery preparedness. The documenting engine outputs data that is gold

to me because I don't have to spend the days it would take to generate it. It

lets me spend those days performing better uses for my time.

Summary of Pros and Cons

 Pros Cons
  • Ease of use
  • Saves tons of time in documenting your SQL Server
  • Historical view of your data change. Let's you see when your objects 

    have changed

  • Documenting engine can be scheduled to run during slow times
  • Very slow documenting engine
  • Can be intense on a production server while documenting

    is occurring

  • Can't automatically compare two reports to look for

    differences

Price

Single License $499 ($399 intro price)
5 pack $1499 ($1299 intro price)
25 pack $6999 ($5499 intro price)

Contact Information

FMS 8027 Leesburg Pike, Suite 410

Vienna, VA 22182

703-356-4700
Sales@fmsinc.com
http://www.fmsinc.com

 

 

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