10 March 2020
10 March 2020

Key actions to take with your monitoring system in preparation for COVID-19

You may think of monitoring as helping you keep your environments safe in times of technical crisis. But did you know, monitoring helps your teams work together in times of human-based crisis as well.

Organizations everywhere are taking action to ensure business continuity and to minimize customer impact, whether employees are working from the office, working from home, or working in reduced numbers to accommodate team members who can’t take care of their usual tasks.

If you already have database monitoring in place, take these four key actions today to prepare

These key actions are low effort and critically help prepare your team to work remotely. They also help team members collaborate and learn from one another, should people need to take on new tasks to help when others aren’t available.

1. Integrate with remote collaboration tools, such as Slack

Integration with collaboration tools like Slack isn’t just good for sharing alerts, it also helps your team work together on alerts. Tools like Slack support quick communication and reduce the confusion which can come from people working from email inboxes.

For example, the integration between Slack and Redgate’s SQL Monitor will post messages to a shared channel, allowing team members to create a conversation around an alert, discussing the best way to handle it, and rapidly deciding who will act, without the risk of two people working on the same issue at cross-purposes at the same time.

2. Work with colleagues in different time zones by reducing alert noise and prioritizing tasks

Production environments are rarely well-behaved: it’s common for monitoring to report on problems which, for whatever process or functional reason, can’t be resolved right away. These non-actionable alerts create “noise” in the monitoring system. When you reconfigure how your team works together and share tasks, this alerting noise will cause significant confusion and waste time.

Assign a team member or a small team to quickly assess “noise” in your alerts. This assessment can be as simple as performing an optimization run to mute non-essential alerts, or temporarily silence alerts for known issues which do not impact your customers. If you have team members across time zones, write up a quick schedule of who will triage issues and when they will be working. Optionally pinning updates into the channels used most by your team in Slack or other collaboration tools will increase awareness of the schedule.

With Redgate’s SQL Monitor you can group your alerts by type and severity to easily digest and prioritize actions. You can also set up alert summary reports to regularly run and give you an easy-to-use breakdown of your top problems.

3. Only get critical alerts during out-of-hours, or route them to other colleagues in different time zones

Not all problems raised by monitoring need to be handled right away. If your team has support across multiple time zones, it is quite possible that some of these time zones are busier than others.

To help balance the work, have your alert-triage team also investigate if any of your alerts may be delayed and handled outside of normal working hours or by a team in a different time zone.

SQL Monitor allows you to easily direct different alerts to different email addresses or even different management tools, so you can have different teams manage different processes at different times. You can bulk-manage and automate this process through the API.

4. Validate the surface area of your security

People tend to forget about security in a panic and that’s a problem. Data is vulnerable any time, as shown by the recent incident where a Virgin Media database with personally identifying information for more than 900,000 customers was left unsecured and visible to the public.

Block out some time for someone on your team to review the security configuration not only of your monitoring system, but also of your production, and even non-production, databases.

SQL Monitor enables you to do this quickly by showing who has access at different permissions levels, both for your monitoring and for your SQL Server Instances. This enables your team to quickly make sure the right people can do their jobs in the right place, and that others do not have access.

Don’t have monitoring in place yet?

Here’s what you need to consider in a solution to enable teams to work flexibly and from different locations:

  • Look for a solution with a web-based monitoring dashboard, which enables accessibility from a wide variety of devices and locations and promotes flexibility for your team.
  • Ensure you choose a solution which enables you to move to the cloud and monitor both your on-prem and cloud environments as you transition. Cloud platforms simplify your monitoring surface area and enable you to more quickly build and optimize your monitored environments.
  • Evaluate carefully how a monitoring solution enables you to automate developer communications. For example, distributed developers and DBAs using SQL Monitor can automate workflows through the API, webhooks, and other Redgate tool integrations, enabling them to streamline workflows and communicate seamlessly.

To get started with SQL Monitor or ask us any questions, get in touch today.

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SQL Monitor

Real-time SQL Server performance monitoring, with alerts and diagnostics

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