Power, Productivity, and Performance too — Optimize Your SQL Server with sqlSen

In SQL Server 2000 and earlier, there is no way to chain SQL Server jobs. In SQL Server 2005, some chaining functionality has been added, but it is not comprehensive. sqlSentry, on the other hand, offers flexible and comprehensive chaining, permitting you to perform complex tasks that are just not possible otherwise.

Next is the “Contacts” node (see below). This is where you create and manage users and groups.

Next, is the “sqlSentry Server” node (see below). This is where you can view and manage various sqlSentry settings, site configuration, and connections.

And last is the “Logs” node (see below). As you would expect, this is where you view all the log details, including the notes that any of the DBAs may have made about jobs. This same information can also be viewed from the Calendar View, which is discussed next.

While it may seem like we have covered a lot so far, we have barely touched the surface of all the screens that are available from within the sqlSentry Console. As I have already mentioned, the goal of this section is to provide the highlights of using the Console, so we can’t go into a lot of detail here. But before we jump into the actual product testing, I do want to talk about another important screen, and that is the Calendar View.

The Calendar View is essentially how you visually see what is going on with your SQL Servers and Task Schedulers. You can also work directly with anything you see on the screen (see below). It combines an historical view of what has happened, a view of currently active events, along with a future view of what is to happen. A variety of visual indicators provide a lot of information, such as if a job succeeded, failed, overlapped another, and so on.

The Calendar View is very flexible, allowing you to view a single day, or multiple days on the same screen. It can show you all the events for a day, or for a specific period of time during a day. In the example above, you can see that three days are covered. Monday represents today and you see two historical jobs (both failed as indicated by the red), and Tuesday and Wednesday are both in the future, showing future jobs to run. The Filter tab allows you to remove extraneous detail from the schedule so that you can see the detail you need. For example, the default view filters out jobs shorter than one minute to allow quick recognition of long running and failed events.

As you notice, there is a pop-up ToolTip on the screen (I clicked on an event that I wanted more information about). Any event, past or future, can be selected, and a pop-up ToolTip will appear describing the event. Often this information is enough to make decisions on how to manage that event and even fix failures. The ToolTip can even display notes input by the current user or even other DBA team members.

Another powerful feature of this view is the ability to quickly recognize schedule collisions on your schedule and fix them with a quick drag and drop. Schedule collisions are when the scheduled execution of two or more events overlap in some manner causing contention for server resources. Schedule collisions are one of the largest sources of performance issues and they are usually hidden without a tool like sqlSentry. Below, is another Calendar View showing a conflict between two jobs, a database backup job, and a transaction log backup job. It is in orange to let you know there is a conflict.

To see more details about the conflict, you can select the “View Conflicts” button to see more conflict details, such as you see below.

When you see a conflict like this, and you consider it a potential problem, you can either change the job directly, or just drag and drop the job from the Calendar View to a time slot that does not cause a conflict.

Now that you have a little overview of how the product looks and works, let’s get into the meat of sqlSentry and see if it really does what it claims.

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