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The top three SQL Server third-party tools

Basit Farooq presents his top three SQL Server third-party tools for identifying and resolving SQL Server bottlenecks.

Monitoring and optimizing SQL Server performance, as well as identifying and fixing performance bottlenecks in SQL Server databases, can be a daunting task for database administrators (DBAs), developers and application support teams. SQL Server performance is influenced by factors like server hardware, operating system setup and database configuration. SQL Server provides a comprehensive set of tools for monitoring its own performance, but many SQL Server DBAs, developers and application support teams choose to use third-party performance monitoring tools.

SQL Server third-party performance monitoring tools are more flexible than the tools that ship with the product, and they provide a centralized repository for performance-related data. Moreover, they are easy to use and provide real-time visibility into all SQL Server performance. Third-party monitoring tools can help monitor SQL Server and database performance, resolve potential problems with threshold-based and trend-based alerts, and isolate the root cause of application performance issues.

Three of these top SQL Server third-party tools can be used to quickly identify and resolve performance bottlenecks.

Idera SQL Diagnostic Manager

SQL Diagnostic Manager is a powerful performance monitoring, alerting and diagnostics tool. It is comprehensive, low-impact, highly customizable and agentless. You can use SQL Diagnostic Manager to monitor physical and virtual SQL Servers. Through a central server dashboard or mobile device, this SQL Server third-party tool can proactively notify you about health, performance or availability problems. Its server dashboard collects and displays real-time activity, status and performance information for sessions, queries, system resources, databases, services and logs. The mobile dashboard allows you to access, monitor, diagnose or resolve SQL Server and database performance issues anytime and anywhere. SQL Diagnostic Manager stores real-time and historical performance data, session details, and job data in a centralized repository.

SQL Diagnostic Manager provides reports with such names as CPU to I/O Activity, Physical Disk Activity, Worst Performing by Application or User, Logins (this report also includes unsuccessful logins), Procedure Cache Hit ratio, Block and Deadlocks. The software also includes reports that you can use to forecast database, disk drive and table growth based on past performance.

SQL Diagnostic Manager has an adaptive and automated alerting system that includes more than 100 predefined and configurable alert settings based on industry best practices. For greater flexibility, SQL Diagnostic Manager also lets you define custom alerts.

SQL Diagnostic Manager can be installed quickly with no agents or database objects required on monitored production servers. A typical installation and configuration takes no more than 30 minutes.

SQL Diagnostic Manager
Figure 1.

For more information, visit the SQL Diagnostic Manager product page.

SQL Sentry Performance Advisor

A centralized real-time performance monitoring and alerting tool, SQL Sentry Performance Advisor offers performance and alerting through a Windows-based performance dashboard. The dashboard monitors and displays the most important Windows and SQL Server performance metrics, such as CPU, memory, paging and I/O side by side and in a single view. It can be used in real-time mode to view point-in-time SQL Server activity and in historical analysis mode for historical performance analysis. You can easily switch between the two modes. The SQL Server third-party tool also has a dashboard that captures high-impact stored procedures, batches and Transact-SQL statements.

SQL Sentry Performance Advisor includes an intelligent alerting mechanism that lets you define customizable alerts specific to your SQL Server environment. It includes AlwaysOn monitoring and management, integrated plan explorer for query plan analysis, blocking and deadlocks monitoring, index, and fragmentation reports. It also has powerful SQL Server Reporting Services-based performance reporting, which includes Global Server Status, Wait Stats Analysis, Disk Space, Database File Size, Top SQL, High VLFs and Misaligned Partitions.

SQL Sentry Performance Adviser
Figure 2.

For more information, visit the SQL Sentry Performance Advisor product page.

Dell's Foglight Performance Suite for SQL Server

The Foglight Performance Suite for SQL Server is a complete SQL Server third-party tool for monitoring the health of physical and virtual SQL Server environments. It provides a SQL Trace-like level of detail without the associated overhead or impact to the SQL workload. It has a Web-based dashboard, which you can use to view real-time and historical SQL Server performance-related activity at a glance. You can also use Foglight Performance Suite for SQL Server to proactively diagnose and resolve bottlenecks and scalability issues that threaten SQL Server performance. Using the dashboard, you can quickly identify and resolve critical performance problems for SQL Server physical, virtual and SQL Azure environments. The Foglight Performance Suite offers built-in business intelligence without requiring you to build or maintain data cubes. It also lets you configure alerts to quickly identify performance problems.

Figure 3.

For more information, see the Foglight Performance Analysis for SQL Server product page.

This was first published in June 2014
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