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 After detecting there was a newer
version of the product, it did not download it automatically.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
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
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
|$499 ($399 intro price)
|$1499 ($1299 intro price)
|$6999 ($5499 intro price)
FMS 8027 Leesburg Pike, Suite 410
Vienna, VA 22182