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Table of contents
1.
Introduction
2.
Monitor Databases
2.1.
Database Status in Monitoring
3.
Benefits of Monitoring
3.1.
Reduce incidents and outages caused by poor performance
3.2.
Reduced infrastructure costs
3.3.
Risk management
4.
Automated SQL Server Monitoring
5.
SQL Server Monitoring Mistakes
5.1.
Excessive data
5.2.
Inadequate detail
5.3.
High observer overhead
5.4.
Technical debt from a do-it-yourself solution
6.
Additional Monitoring Aspects
6.1.
Components of SQL Server
6.1.1.
Network or Protocol
6.1.2.
Storage Engine 
6.1.3.
Query Processor
6.1.4.
SQLOS
7.
Frequently Asked Questions
7.1.
What will happen if we don’t monitor databases?
7.2.
What are the key evaluation criteria to monitor databases?
7.3.
What are the different components of SQL servers?
8.
Conclusion
Last Updated: Mar 27, 2024

Monitor Databases in Microsoft SQL Server

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Introduction

SQL Server monitoring is the continuous collection and analysis of Microsoft SQL Server usage, performance, and event metrics. It is the first step toward improving the performance of applications that rely on your data platform.

SQL Server Monitoring

Source

When trying to solve urgent problems, failing to monitor the SQL Server database frequently leaves us unprepared. Many performance challenges necessitate simulating a scenario in order to identify the root cause of a performance issue. Replicating a specific scenario from scratch is expensive and may even be impossible. 

In this article, we will tackle these problems and discuss how to monitor databases in the Microsoft SQL Server. We will also discuss what to monitor in databases alongside the benefits of Monitoring Databases and some common mistakes during monitoring. So let’s get started!

Monitor Databases

SQL Server databases can be monitored primarily using SQL Server Management Studio or T-SQL, but they can also be monitored using a variety of methods such as creating agent jobs and configuring database mail, third-party tools, and so on.

SQL Server Management Studio, also known as SSMS, is a user-friendly and multi-purpose database development and administration tool that is primarily used to manage SQL Server environments by SQL Professionals such as SQL database developers, database administrators, and infrastructure teams.

Ms SQL Server Management Studio

Source

Highly effective monitoring provides a bird's-eye view of your entire data estate. It also provides the in-depth analytics required to analyze the root cause of the most difficult performance issues—baselines and historical data aid in quantifying and highlighting performance trends. A comprehensive monitoring solution will provide numerous options for proactive alerting and automated remediation of common performance issues.

Realtime Monitoring Image

Source

Database Status in Monitoring

Monitoring is the process of checking database status, settings such as the owner's name, file names, file sizes, backup schedules, and so on.

Online Status of Databases

Source

The status of a database can be determined, whether it is online or not. According to the above screen, all databases are 'Online.' If any database is in a different state, that state will be displayed.

Offline Status of Databases

Source

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Benefits of Monitoring

Now we will discuss some benefits of monitoring databases in Microsoft SQL Server.

Reduce incidents and outages caused by poor performance

Incidents involving poor performance are extremely costly to your company. Proactive SQL Server performance monitoring results in fewer performance issues and fewer tickets to resolve. Rather than constantly fighting fires, free your team to focus on optimising overall data platform performance and supporting other lines of business.

Reduced infrastructure costs

Minimise infrastructure investments by ensuring that applications perform optimally within service and hardware constraints. When it comes time to upgrade cloud services or hardware, you can be confident that your decision will not be wasteful.

Risk management

Continuous performance monitoring helps to keep your data platform running smoothly and reduces the risk of downtime. Downtime costs your company a lot of money in lost productivity and puts the data platform team in a dangerous reactive mode.

Automated SQL Server Monitoring

Manually monitoring SQL Server is time-consuming. Each day, you could spend hours gathering data from performance counters, event logs, and DMVs on hundreds of servers and instances. This is before you even consider how you will store and analyse historical data.

After data collection, you will still need to format and present it in a logical and consumable manner. You now have even less time to solve real problems proactively.

As a result, there is a never-ending cycle of reactive troubleshooting. This reactive approach reduces long-term performance and costs the company money in lost revenue and productivity. Reactive posture destabilises the data platform and forces DBAs to deal with an unyielding stress response.

SQL Server Monitoring Mistakes

Some monitoring mistakes while monitoring databases in Microsoft SQL Server are enlisted below.

Excessive data

Too much data confuses you as you sift through mountains of irrelevant data. Your monitoring solution should provide actionable performance data in rich and timely detail.

Inadequate detail

Inadequate information leads to incorrect or incomplete conclusions, which can be costly. Consider spending a significant amount of time and money attempting to solve a problem that was never truly a problem. Holistic performance monitoring provides a complete picture of performance to help you draw accurate conclusions.

High observer overhead

A monitoring engine adds unnecessary overhead to your problem rather than solving it. It defeats the purpose of monitoring by forcing you to sacrifice resources in exchange for visibility.

Technical debt from a do-it-yourself solution

DIY solutions result in ongoing maintenance issues. Problems arise when you can't remember who built the solution or when the person who built it cannot keep it running indefinitely. In many cases, the architect was not a performance monitoring expert, resulting in obvious functional flaws.

Additional Monitoring Aspects

Microsoft SQL Server is a difficult piece of software to use. If you're starting, it may appear simpler than it is. On the surface, you design and create databases. You perform CRUD operations. You use an indexing strategy to improve said CRUD operations. Your perception of simplicity will fade as you encounter errors, outages, or delays that aren't easily explained.

The remainder of this article discusses SQL Server architecture as well as several key performance areas to monitor. 

Components of SQL Server

A better understanding of SQL Server architecture will help you understand what to monitor and why. 

The MS SQL Server database engine is composed of four major components. This is true at the time of writing, regardless of how SQL Server is delivered or hosted. Regardless of SQL Server's deployment method, you should be able to rely on these components to be operational (s). They may not always be visible to administrators, but they are necessary to keep SQL Server running.

Components of SQL Server

Network or Protocol

This is the section where we connect clients to SQL Server. We monitor network traffic to determine when network problems are interfering with performance.

We also monitor network activity for indications of problems with how applications or users interact with the server. One terrifying example would be a distributed denial-of-service attack on a website that relies on the database server.

SQL Server supports various protocols and uses Tabular Data Stream to communicate over the network (TDS). In most cases, SQL Server connectivity will be handled via TCP/IP. Named Pipes and Shared Memory are also supported protocols. Clients running on the same host as the SQL Server instance can only use the Shared Memory protocol. A pipe is a name that is rarely used. It works for local area networks (LANs) but becomes less efficient as the LAN becomes more distributed.
 

Storage Engine 

Transactions, file management, and access to various database objects are all handled by the SQL Server storage engine. The database could not be transactional or concurrent without the storage engine. It would also be unable to save data.

Storage capacity and performance, file access, and storage allocation are among the metrics we track for the storage engine.
 

Query Processor

The query processor is in charge of processing and executing queries. It is a complex piece of engineering, but its purpose is clear at a high level. It parses, plans, and executes queries sent to SQL Server by applications.

We track query processor activity by examining which queries are being processed, how long they take, and what resources they consume. Collecting the query plans used to execute queries as well as the statistics used to generate the query plans is also very beneficial.
 

SQLOS

SQLOS is the portion of SQL Server that resembles an operating system. SQLOS is made up of numerous functions. Other SQL Server components communicate with SQLOS via an API.

CPU scheduling, threading, memory management, logical I/O, and background processes are all handled by SQLOS. Background processes are responsible for things like monitoring for deadlocks, keeping an eye on available resources, and finding memory to free up.

We monitor SQLOS-related things when we monitor CPU activity, memory allocation, higher-level blocking, and locking.

SQLOS has an interesting feature in that it includes a full memory manager. Many applications rely on the host operating system for memory management, but SQL Server manages its own. This is significant because memory allocation and usage are important aspects of SQL Server performance monitoring.

Frequently Asked Questions

What will happen if we don’t monitor databases?

Following problems can occur if we don’t monitor databases:

  • When trying to solve urgent problems, failing to monitor SQL Server performance frequently leaves us unprepared. 
  • Many performance challenges necessitate simulating a scenario in order to identify the root cause of a performance issue. 
  • Replicating a specific scenario from scratch is expensive and may even be impossible.

What are the key evaluation criteria to monitor databases?

Key evaluation criteria to monitor databases are:

  • On monitored systems, calculate observer overhead.
  • Keep an eye on production or replicated production workload.
  • Create a workload baseline and look for degrading performance trends.
  • Make a support case and assess your support experience.

What are the different components of SQL servers?

Components of SQL Server are:

  • Network or Protocol
  • Storage Engine
  • Query Processor
  • SQLOS

Conclusion

This article extensively discussed how to monitor databases in the Microsoft SQL Server. We have also discussed what to monitor in databases alongside the benefits of Monitoring Databases and some common mistakes during monitoring.

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