In an ideal world companies would have only one operating system for all servers, all of them always on the same patch level. There would be only one strategic database platform and every database administrator knows that system and the management tools that ship with it from the inside out.
While this vision may sound tempting, it is hardly achievable in the real world, and, to be fair, there are quite a few valid and compelling reasons why a company wouldn’t want to put all its eggs into one basket. And so in reality you’ll find in most companies – especially in larger corporations – a mix of various server operating systems hosting a variety of different database management systems. Since each of these database management systems comes along with its own set of tools, you’re either lucky enough to be able to specialise in just one or two of these database systems or you more or less struggle with their management and monitoring tools when you have to use them every once in a while. Such tools are naturally optimised to work best with their specific database system and rarely are compatible with any other database platform. It’s pretty much like a charger for mobiles. Whenever you need one, you only get one that incompatible with your mobile and you really wish sometime that there was some kind of unification of chargers across different vendors…
But even if we ignore the differences in manageability for a moment, what about monitoring and reporting? Building up an automatically working monitoring and reporting infrastructure across different database systems is a challenging task. This is now the time where dbWatch from dbWatch Software enters the stage. dbWatch promises to be a “the database monitoring and reporting system for heterogeneous database environments”. Let’s try and find out how much it can live up to that promise.
System requirements, installation, supported database platforms and SQL Server versions
You can download a fully functional 10-days trial version from the dbWatch homepage. This period is sufficiently long if you can set aside enough time to focus on exploring what dbWatch can do for you. If you need a longer trial period, you might get into contact with the nice folks over at dbWatchsoftware to find a solution.
Since I am more concerned with SQL Server than the other supported database platforms, I have chosen to download and install the Windows version of dbWatch. You may as well choose to download the Linux version depending on what your main operating system and/or database platform is. The Windows download is about 280 Mb in size and comes as a self-extracting executable. The installation process itself is trivial, so I won’t need to explain it here. It is completely wizard-driven, takes only a couple of minutes and is very well documented in the Installation and Configuration Guide 9.2.
dbWatch currently supports these database platforms:
- SQL Server
As for SQL Server, it supports all versions from SQL Server 2000 onwards. However, some of the built-in tasks make use of dynamic management views and functions and therefore cannot be used with SQL Server 2000 instances. So, if you still happen to run this version of SQL Server, you may find it interesting to hear that you can easily create your own tasks and alerts that support this version of SQL Server. I’ll go into much more details about extending the built-in tasks and alerts with custom ones later on in this review as this ability to customise the tool specifically to your needs with targeted code for your database platforms is a pretty amazing aspect and quite unique to dbWatch.
The following installation prerequisites are taken from the aforementioned Installation and Configuration Guide 9.2: