What is Database Monitoring – and What is it Good For?

Databases have long been a core business application. In fact, databases were one of the early killer applications that drove the sales of mainframes, minis, and finally the explosion of personal computers. These days, databases do far more heavy lifting, even serving as a repository for all a company’s critical information – both structured and unstructured.  

When a customer asks a question, you go straight to the database for an answer. So, when that database is slow or even worse completely down, those questions aren't answered. Product information isn't discovered, and sales updates aren’t made. The phrase that fits is ‘business crippling’.  

 

More often the database is slow because of application or network issues. While not exactly crippling, this can cause great harm to productivity and frustrating for customers who must wait for an answer. 

The solution is database monitoring, which keeps steady and detailed tabs on how the database application is operating, and when a problem is spotted, finds out exactly where the trouble lies. The idea is to spot problems before they turn into actual failures. 

Microsoft SQL Server is one of today’s most popular DBMS solutions, and so we will use that as an example to describe the in's and out of how WhatsUp Gold from Progress performs database monitoring. All the items described concerning SQL Server applies equally well to other databases. 

Key Example: SQL Server Monitoring 

Here are some key SQL Server monitoring features offered by WhatsUp Gold. 

Monitor Vital SQL Server Parameters: Fully customizable alerts tell IT when there are critical issues concerning CPU state, low amounts of free memory, dangerous disk utilization, and issues with cache utilization, system processes, transactions, users, page buffers, and wait for locks. IT can create custom thresholds for any available performance counter. 

Is the SQL Server Service Available?: A WhatsUp Gold dashboard quickly shows the availability of all SQL Server services based upon monitoring the SQL Server database engine, as well as indexing, search, and reporting services. The alerts detail the issues, while automated actions take care of them for you.  

SQL Server Query Reports: SQL Server is all about SQL queries. That is why they call it Structured Query Language. Here, the WhatsUp Gold SQL Query Monitor reports on the output of all SQL Server queries, and highlight areas where the DBMS is not doing its job. When queries fail, return unexpected results, or performance suffers, alerts or actions are triggered. 

With the SQL Query Monitor, you check on certain conditions of a Microsoft SQL or MySQL database based on the performance and outcome of database queries. IT, or your database gurus, define the criteria you want in the database, and if these conditions are found, the SQL Query Monitor reports an upstate. In contrast, if the database data changes outside the boundaries of the query criteria, the monitor reports a downstate. 

Deeper Details on WhatsUp Gold and SQL Server Monitoring 

Create SLAs You Know You Can KeepCreating or agreeing to an SLA is one thing, adhering is another. Fortunately, with SQL Server SLAs, you can use WhatsUp Gold’s SLA Advanced State Monitoring Control to define and then closely monitor application states. This also helps inform how SLAs are calculated. And, since you have a good idea of the performance and availability, you can confidently guarantee your SQL Server uptime and performance.  

You can also determine what application components or services are critical or non-critical, and thus distinguish those pieces which when down should not impact SLAs.   

Create and Configure Multiple Application States:  An application state, obviously, is simply the state of the application. In short, how is it doing? With WhatsUp Gold, you can create a variety of states such as Up, Warning, Down, Maintenance, and Unknown. You can then create thresholds for each of these states which when exceeded, set off an alert. A warning state, for example, could be triggered when a threshold of 80% utilization is exceeded. That is a danger sign and the alert will prompt quick action by the appropriate IT professional.  

Creating Custom Parameters  

SQL Server is a Microsoft application and as such uses the Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) Interface to allow IT professionals to access the application on a deep level. WMI is essential to creating custom parameters you want to monitor, and as a result, your SQL Server host must be WMI-enabled.  

SQL Server Monitoring is a Mere Part of What WhatsUp Gold Can Do 

If you need to monitor a database such as SQL Server, does it make more sense to buy a dedicated SQL Server or database monitoring tool – or have these capabilities as just ONE part of a COMPLETE network and application performance monitoring solution?  

We will tell you more about WhatsUp Gold and let you decide. WhatsUp Gold can monitor and report on all your network devices and key applications. In fact, anything the network monitoring solution can connect to, it can monitor, alert and report on.  

For instance, the solution can track the status of services common to TCP/IP servers, such as SMTP, POP3, and IMAP, FTP, HTTP, and alert IT if any of these services fail. WhatsUp Gold can know if your email is down, website unavailable, or users unable to transfer files. And yes, it does the same for your databases. As you can see, database monitoring is just one of myriad use cases.  

Turn Alerts into Actions   

Being alerted is great – but knowing just what to do next is even better. With WhatsUp Gold Database Monitoring, IT is alerted as soon as the state of a monitored component or application changes. What happens next is up to IT, which can build multi-step Action Policies. These range from simply sending out alerts through text or email, to capturing relevant events to a log file, all the way up to performing self-healing actions such as restarting an application service or initiating a PowerShell script.  

If your database goes into a downstate, an action path can be triggered that writes an entry to the log, runs a script that reboots the server, or just sends a notification. 

See Everything with a Database Monitoring Dashboard 

When you want to know everything that's going on with your database, simply look at your Database Performance Monitoring Dashboard and check the Current Status for a real-time view. In the event of a problem, this dashboard allows you to quickly find the root cause.  

The same dashboard offers a historical view so you can spot trends that may impact future performance, and discover chronic problems you should fix once so they will stop cropping up. These Historical Status Reports analyze database performance problems over a period and uncover tough-to-find, intermittent performance issues such as URI cache failures and memory leaks. 

The Component Summary Dashboard shows these chronic problems, and details all monitored components for your database such as the percentage of time it spends in different states, such as up or down. 

Finally, the Database State Change Log tracks all DBMS state changes at both the component and application level which can be predictive of future problems. 

Customer Case in Point: Optim Healthcare Heals SQL Server with WhatsUp Gold 

Optim Healthcare has three hospitals and other medical practices in Savannah, Georgia. Optim’s Matt Cline, Senior Systems Administrator, adopted WhatsUp Gold and immediately diagnosed a critical performance issue. 

WhatsUp Gold is a “great product that monitors our devices. Know as soon as something goes down. Or when something is getting close to causing you headaches. Don’t be in the dark or find out on a Friday night that your server crashed when you could easily avoid it with proper notifications,” Optim Healthcare’s Cline said. “WUG is a good software that saves me time and my company money. You can monitor nearly anything all at the same time. Anything from Database instances to a single SNMP trap can be monitored. Alerting works great and saves me the trouble of telling someone a room is overheating or power is out.”  

WhatsUp Gold does far more than monitor databases. “WhatsUp Gold gives us great visibility into the health and status of our servers and network pipes. It’s become an integral tool into our day-to-day operations,” Cline said. 

Learn More About Database Monitoring with WhatsUp Gold 

SQL Query monitor is included in WhatsUp Gold Premium, Distributed, and MSP editions, and works with Microsoft SQL Server and MySQL databases. 

The SQL Server Monitor supports monitoring of Microsoft SQL Server 2000 or later versions, and MSDE 2000 or later versions, which can be installed on any machine in your network. 

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