Spotlight on SQL Server 5.7

Quest Software’s real-time performance monitoring tool

Quest Software's Spotlight on SQL Server 5.7 is a database performance monitoring tool designed to help you easily detect and diagnose SQL Server database performance problems by means of a graphical UI. Spotlight on SQL Server lets you view real-time server activity so that you can locate problematic database activity.

Installation is a breeze, and it's easy to configure monitoring connections to your existing servers. In fact, once you connect, a wizard prompts you to configure a calibration interval (spanning from minutes to hours) within which the tool will monitor overall activity to compute a baseline. Although I didn't determine how the baseline was computed, I did notice that Spotlight on SQL Server did a great job of informing me when my servers departed from normal operating parameters, such as when I launched a large RESTORE operation or when I began thumping one of my databases with several complex and automated INSERTs.

Spotlight on SQL Server's alerting is very intuitive. Monitored subsystems and components default to a green display (indicating subsystems and components are running as they should) in top-level monitoring screens and transition to yellow (indicating warning) and red (indicating crisis) depending on how severely they deviate from established baselines or as they come under increased load. The UI also flashes the names of servers encountering problems in the Live connections pane so that you don't miss anything if you're monitoring multiple instances.

Spotlight on SQL Server's intuitive UI makes it easy for you to drill down into the details of each subcomponent's performance and to see complex details about current activity from various angles. Spotlight on SQL Server provides complex graphs, charts, and data grids that contain precise details about individual database files, overall disk utilization, breakdowns of resource utilization by user or session, and cache and buffer hit ratios by object. Without Spotlight on SQL Server, you would have to glean data from Perfmon, SQL Profiler, and a handful of ninja-caliber admin scripts. Spotlight on SQL Server, however, presents this data in graphical form, making it easy to distill mounds of data with the click of a mouse. The time that this functionality saves makes Spotlight on SQL Server's price easier to justify.

Spotlight on SQL Server's only real weakness is its inability to send alerts via email or pager. Spotlight on SQL Server Enterprise edition, which I haven't tested, provides this functionality, as well as historical trending capabilities. Better yet, the Enterprise Edition of Spotlight on SQL Server can even be cheaper to license in many instances. Of course, buying this product can be difficult because Quest requires you to call and speak directly with a sales person just to get a price quote. I wondered if some of the more complex monitoring functions that Spotlight on SQL Server provides could put enough load on an overloaded server to push it over the brink, but because the tool lets you specify which monitoring options you want to enable (and warns you when resource-intensive options are enabled), I think such concern might not be warranted.

Overall, Spotlight on SQL Server is a great product that has a minimal learning curve and offers a great deal of functionality. Although it's a bit expensive, there aren't many other products with this functionality, and the insight the tool provides is extremely valuable. Spotlight on SQL Server is an indispensable resource if you have many servers to monitor or are in an environment with a lot of ad hoc activity.

Spotlight on SQl Server 5.7

PROS: Excellent real-time display of SQL Server activity and performance metrics; UI makes it easy to intuitively drill down into key subsystems for advanced diagnostics and monitoring
CONS: Lacks the functionality to send email or pager alerts; doesn't track historical trends; is a bit costly and can be difficult to purchase
RATING: 4.5 out of 5
Starts at $1495
An excellent choice to save time and effort if you have many servers to monitor or a high volume of database activity.
CONTACT: Quest Software * 949-754-8000 *

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