Technical Blog Articles

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The use of Purpose Built Backup Appliances (PBBAs) for backup data storage has shown dramatic growth in recent years.  While growth is slowing as cloud providers improve their service offerings, PBBAs remain a competitive option.   

Offering optimized data storage, reduced expenditures over traditional hardware, with no need to change existing platform or processes, consider these reasons to incorporate PBBA solutions in your environment.

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Your DBA is receiving complaints about a slow server at random periods throughout the week.  How do you assess the environment and troubleshoot performance issues at different periods?

Using a series of PowerShell scripts, you can easily gather key statistics across your entire environment, and run the process several times a day to capture those statistics during different time periods and activity levels.  The data is stored in a series of tables, which can then be used for alerting and trend reporting.

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As every person in IT knows, monitoring the health of your database environment is extremely important for the stability and availability of your data, but… your DBA staff is stretched thin and overworked, your environment is continually growing due to evolving business operations, and pretty soon any attempt at enterprise-wide monitoring of availability, performance, and growth is de-centralized, disjointed across environments and/or multiple third-party solutions, or simply doesn’t exist at all.

A large scale effort to implement enterprise-wide monitoring seems overwhelming, especially when there are so many immediate fires to fight.

Read on to discover why implementing Remote Database Monitoring is worth it:

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Recently, after assessing a client’s backup statistics, we discovered that over 20% of a client’s database instances had not been backed up.  Before configuring backups for so many instances, we wanted to discover just how many databases were actually actively in use.

After investigating options, we developed the following query to detect database inactivity.  The query uses the command sys.dm_db_index_usage_stats.   The query returns the last accessed time for all indexes (including heap). Based on this, we are able to determine the last accessed time for each database.  Any databases with a last access data beyond an agreed upon threshold (e.g. older than 1 week) can be flagged for follow up.

One Drawback:  If the SQL Server service is restarted, last accessed stats are reset. So, this query is not useful for detecting database activity for servers that are frequently restarted. However, the query also returns the server restart date, which you can use to help you flag those restarts for further analysis.

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Are you wondering how long before you run out of disk space?  As a database services provider, we are frequently asked to monitor disk space usage across large multi-platform environments.  Seeking to provide a proactive method to detect and predict disk space usage before overages occur, we developed a PowerShell script to automatically gather those disk space usage statistics across an entire environment. The data is then available for alerting, reporting, and historical trending, so that you can forecast, plan, and add disk space before issues occur.

The PowerShell script is called by a Windows batch script, scheduled to run on a nightly basis.  The PowerShell script reads through a prepared table of server names and issues a series of commands to:

– Detect (valid) disks attached to each server

– Pull back total space and open space from each disk, and compute used space. 

The script then calls a stored procedure to store the data for alerting and reporting.

 

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On Saturday, August 17, 2013, John Abrams hosted a speaker session at SQL Saturday #235 in New York City.  In case you missed it, or just want to revisit our presentation….we’ve posted it here…

As every DBA knows, the one question you want to be able to answer affirmatively is “Can you recover that data?” Monitoring is critical, but monitoring methods can be imperfect. Traditional methods are difficult to set up and maintain across your entire environment, resulting in incomplete monitoring and missed alerts, so that it’s difficult to be sure of your answer to that all important question. This presentation will:

• Show you how to implement a better way to monitor your database environment that is more efficient, easier to maintain, and guarantees that you never miss an alert.

• Share the methodology, framework, and key syntax, so that you are certain the databases you are responsible for are always up, always backed up, and never run out of disk/file space. So that your answer to that all important question is always YES!