Performance monitoring, alerting, and diagnosis for SQL Server

Walkthrough 3: Working with the alerts

Alert Inbox

In this walkthrough, we'll work with SQL Monitor's Alerts tab. Opening the tab shows us the Alert Inbox. Whenever a problem arises, SQL Monitor raises an alert here, as well as sending it out by email. From the Inbox, we can see the alert level and type, as well as details of when the alert occurred.

The Alert Inbox is centralized, so using the buttons at the top, we can mark alerts as read/unread and cleared/uncleared, to inform others that we're dealing with them. If we want to include more detailed information, we can also add comments.

From the Alert Inbox, we can also set up filters for particular groups of alerts, or get more information about each specific alert.

We'll start with filtering, using the Filter dropdown menu at the top left of the Inbox.

Alert Inbox High alerts filter

The menu comes with several pre-configured filters, such as the High alert filter used here. If we want different or more precise filters, these can be set up by clicking on 'Advanced filter', next to the drop down menu.

Configuring advanced alert filter

Clicking on the Advanced filter marker brings up several options. We check the ones we want, and SQL Monitor begins filtering the Inbox automatically. In this case, we're displaying low level events and continuous alerts that have already ended, but haven't been read or cleared, so we can clean out the Inbox.

Having chosen the settings, we click Save as custom filter, to store it for later use.

Alert performance data

To look at a particular alert in more detail, we click on it in the central panel. This brings up alert details, such as the times the problem began and ended, and performance data. If we configure SQL Monitor to capture trace data, it will be displayed here under the 'SQL Processes/Profiler trace' tab.

Performance data is displayed in the lower part of the report. It automatically provides graphs of the relevant performance metrics' behavior for the period the alert occurred.

The graphs are separated into tabs, corresponding to each overview level. We just click between them to check what was going on at each level.

Alert description

At the top of the alert report, we can also check a description of the alert type, including its typical causes.

Alert configuration

Finally, we can configure alerts from the alert report, by clicking Configure alert in the top right. This opens an Alert Configuration window. We can specify when an alert changes its severity level, set specific conditions to ignore the alert, and customize which levels of our database setup the alert applies to. We can also specify the alerts emails should be sent for and which email addresses should receive the notifications.

For example, we have the configuration settings for a long-running query alert here. We can set the length of time a query must be running for, before we receive Low, Medium or High alerts. We can set specific commands or objects to ignore when checking for long-running queries, and, at the top, we can choose the level (i.e. SQL Server, machine etc.) that these settings should apply to.

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