Readers Choose Tools to Streamline Administration

In these days of tight budgets, SQL Server professionals are doing multiple jobs and are looking for products that make those jobs easier. Automation of common SQL Server administrative tasks and ease of use were readers' primary requirements for winners in the following 10 SQL Server administration categories.

Best Alerting or Notification Software and Best Database-Monitoring Software. Pearl Knowledge Solutions' SQLCentric won two administration categories. Readers said they "love the Web interface" of this database-monitoring and alerting system, which lets you manage your SQL Servers through your company's intranet without disrupting database functions. The interface lets you manage multiple named SQL Server instances, groups, and email operators and configure runtime parameters and disk-alert thresholds. The alerting function integrates with your organization's email system to send timely alerts. The product is cluster-aware, displaying the name of each node in a SQL Server 2000 cluster and alerting you when a cluster failover occurs. Readers said SQLCentric provides "excellent SQL Server monitoring capability" and is a "great tool for the price."

Best Automation or Scheduling Tool. BMC Software's CONTROL-M lets you simplify job scheduling and manage batch processing in Microsoft Windows environments. The tool provides advanced production-scheduling capabilities across the enterprise and lets you take advantage of advanced clustering, job objects, and Windows authorization mechanisms. The product's architecture is composed of multiple components that address security, reliability, availability, and scalability. And CONTROL-M is a member of the Microsoft Gold certification program.

Best Capacity-Planning or Trend-Analysis Software. Embarcadero Technologies' DBArtisan with Capacity Analyst captured 62 percent of the votes in this category. DBArtisan lets you manage SQL Server availability, security, and performance. Capacity Analyst lets you analyze current usage trends in your databases by collecting database storage, object, and performance metrics at scheduled intervals. The product's visual analysis and reporting mechanisms let you forecast your databases' future usage requirements and determine whether you need more memory and storage.

Best Clustering or Load-Balancing Tool. LEGATO Software's LEGATO AAM provides SQL Server load balancing through automated resource management. The product monitors essential system and application parameters, detects and automatically fixes failures, and helps you avoid failures by monitoring your databases' workloads and notifying you when those databases need attention. You can also use AAM to manage database workloads by using predetermined policies to control database availability, either manually or automatically.

Best Comparison and Synchronization Tool. Red Gate Software's SQL Compare compares and synchronizes the structure of SQL Server 2000 and 7.0 database objects. The product lets you automate the process of making changes to a local database and pushing those changes to a database on a remote server. The software compares and synchronizes all database objects—including tables, stored procedures, views, and user-defined functions (UDFs)—while maintaining dependencies and referential integrity. By using SQL Compare as part of Red Gate's SQL Toolkit, you can automate comparison and synchronization tasks. One reader described SQL Compare as "simple, reliable, indispensable—perfect!"

Best Database Performance-Tuning Tool. Readers wanting to streamline database performance tuning chose Imceda Software's Speed Coefficient as their favorite product. Speed Coefficient analyzes SQL Server 2000 and 7.0 database activity and produces statistical reports to help you locate potential problems, prevent production disasters, locate bottlenecks, and enhance performance. The product generates statistical reports for all stored-procedure calls and SQL statements executed against your database and performs trend analysis to help you identify performance changes over time. Speed Coefficient runs on any client computer, and you can post analyses on your network or Web server for others in your organization.

Best Interoperability Tool. JNetDirect's JSQLConnect lets you access SQL Server 2000, 7.0, and 6.5 from your Java, .JSP, or J2EE applications. This native type 4 JDBC driver provides database access for any size enterprise and includes trusted authentication for Microsoft Windows 2000 and NT 4.0 user accounts, pre-verified connection pools, distributed transactions, and secure JDBC/HTTP firewall tunneling. Readers praised JSQLConnect as a reliable, easy-to-use product that "solves the problem of Java interoperability."

Best Log-Analysis Tool. Lumigent Technologies' Log Explorer is the reader favorite for accessing SQL Server's transaction log, letting you identify the source of data changes; selectively recover modified, deleted, dropped, or truncated data; and export data for follow-up analysis and reporting. On-line data-repair and recovery features help you maintain database availability. The product also notifies you when important database events occur. You can use the browse and filter capabilities against the transaction log and repair data by selectively undoing or redoing individual transactions or entire transaction sets.

Best SQL Server Migration Tool. Readers rely on Embarcadero Technologies' DT/Studio to transform, migrate, and integrate large quantities of data from disparate sources including SQL Server, Oracle, Sybase, IBM DB2, flat files, or any JDBC-accessible data source. The product combines visual data modeling with a visual data-flow designer and an extensible extraction, transformation, and loading (ETL) engine to make enterprise data-integration projects quicker and easier. And DT/Studio comes with data-transformation templates for doing common tasks such as de-duping data and cross-database joins.

Best SQL Server Administration Tools
Best Alerting or Notification Software
Pearl Knowledge Solutions, SQLCentric
Price: License kits (including product, support, and upgrades) start at $5995 for a 5-server kit
Best Automation or Scheduling Tool
800-841-2031, 713-918-8000
Price: Varies depending on configuration; contact BMC for quote
Best Capacity-Planning or Trend-Analysis Software
Embarcadero Technologies, DBArtisan with Capacity Analyst
Price: $1495
Best Clustering or Load-Balancing Tool
888-853-4286, 650-210-7000
Price: Contact LEGATO for pricing
Best Comparison and Synchronization Tool
Red Gate Software,SQL Compare
866-733-4283, 44-870-160-0037
Price: $195 for a single-user license
Best Database Performance-Tuning Tool
Imceda Software, Speed Coefficient
888-763-7685, 781-229-6300
Price: Starts at $795
Best Database-Monitoring Software
Pearl Knowledge Solutions, SQLCentric
Price: License kits (including product, support, and upgrades) start at $5995 for a 5-server kit
Best Interoperability Tool
JNetDirect, JSQLConnect
800-995-8534, 703-880-3800
Price: $225 for a single-connection license
Best Log-Analysis Tool
Lumigent Technologies, Log Explorer 866-586-4436, 978-206-3700
Price: $1680, including maintenance; volume pricing available
Best SQL Server Migration Tool
Embarcadero Technologies, DT/Studio
Price: $35,000
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