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I had the pleasure to speak with Thomas Löfstrand of Nethouse, a SolarWinds business partner located in Sweden. Thomas recently evaluated the new features of Server & Application Monitor.
JK: I understand you have tried the new AppInsight feature of Server & Application Monitor. How do you like it?
TL: I was really excited about this feature when I first heard it was coming out last fall. We are a SolarWinds customer and partner. We’ve been a partner and have been using SolarWinds products for the past 9 years. My main focus is on Network Performance Monitor and Server & Application Monitor products. About 50% of the time I spend as a SQL DBA working to help troubleshoot performance of both Nethouse databases and our customers’ databases.
I really like the complete, specialized view of SQL performance you get with AppInsight for SQL. This was lacking before in Server & Application Monitor (SAM) in that you were only able to view some performance metrics of SQL server itself. Now, when you can see all the SQL metrics in one view, it will be much easier for our customers to understand what is going on with their SQL databases.
JK: Prior to using AppInsight, what were some of the activities you performed weekly or monthly for troubleshooting SQL server performance?
TL: I used to create scripts in SAM to monitor SQL agent jobs to see if they were running or not. I also wrote scripts to monitor user connections. Now, with AppInsight, I can see this kind of information immediately, it’s built into the product. This spring I had an incident related to user connections which could have been avoided if we had the features now available in SAM 6.0. We had a user connection that locked some tables in SQL server and it caused the application to stall so other users could not access the application. It took 2 hours to find this problem. If I had SAM 6.0 at this time, I could have seen right off in the SQL dashboard that this user shouldn't have been there.
One of the other things I look at all the time is disk space usage and through SQL commands I can go into each database to see database space usage. Before, with Server & Application Monitor, I could see disk space usage but not for each database and not within the database files. Now I can get an immediate view of available space for each database.
JK: How many databases do you manage?
TL: I manage a lot of databases for our customers. I do not perform the day-to-day responsibilities for all customers but help with troubleshooting activities. I have a very big customer I work with to help in troubleshooting SQL performance issues. Before AppInsight, I had to run traces for 12 to 24 hours to see how the server was performing over time to understand the top CPU intensive queries.
Now it will take a matter of 5 minutes after they get the AppInsight feature installed. SAM is also good to show historical data for problem analysis, which is very helpful in working with customers to troubleshoot application issues.
JK: What other features have you tried in SAM 6.0?
TL: I have tried the inventory dashboard to get a complete view of our hardware and software assets. You can import and export inventory data to CMDBs. Today, we use Microsoft Excel as our CMDB. It is easy to start with the asset inventory dashboard if you don’t have any CMDB or asset management tool.
SolarWinds is really a complete platform to run all of your IT environment. You get monitoring, asset management and now you have specialized SQL server monitoring. You don’t need any specialized tools like Red-Gate or Idera, you get everything with SolarWinds.
If you are interested in seeing a deep demo of the new features of SAM 6.0, check out this webcast replay.