When I was a DBA responsible for 40 to 50 SQL Server instances, I didn’t have many third-party tools to help me do my job. I remember that I was able to buy a tool to compress database backups before that functionality was built into SQL Server. I also had a handful of licenses for a monitoring product that I had to swap around as problems came up on different servers, losing the history and trends. It was almost not worth using the tool at all since I wasn’t continuously monitoring any given instance. I ended up relying more on scripts that I found or wrote than the monitoring tool. I enjoyed writing scripts to manage the servers and to automate populating data in systems throughout the organization, but looking back, I should have lobbied harder to get more tools to help me with monitoring.
Without a dedicated monitoring solution in place, a DBA can spend a lot of time searching for scripts online. The worst is when a critical server is down while a manager looks over the DBA’s shoulder demanding that they get it fixed now. That never helps!
A great library of homegrown scripts can be built, but it’s never as complete as a dedicated monitoring tool. A monitoring tool can also help DBAs keep track of things like drive space, licensing, and version end-of-support that can aid in budget discussions. Baselining can show whether the server is performing the same or worse over time. Best of all, a software company offering such a tool will keep up with the changes to DMVs and other system objects as new versions of SQL Server are released.
Having adequate monitoring in place saves troubleshooting time and can even prevent some issues by helping the DBAs spot trends. Unfortunately, some shops see buying tools to monitor SQL Server as a waste of resources when they are already paying the DBA’s salary. But reacting to issues as they come up takes time which can negatively affect end users experience with applications and impact the company’s bottom line.
Having a tool in place to monitor SQL Servers helps a DBA to be more proactive. They can be available for more projects or start using their scripting skills to automate deployments, for example. Yes, there is a cost for SQL Server monitoring tools, but the company will save money as DBAs spend less time troubleshooting and the servers perform better.