Jogging is my exercise. I use it to tune out noise, focus on a problem at hand, avoid interruptions, and stay healthy. Recently, I was cruising at a comfortable nine-minute pace when I was passed by four elite runners, and it was like I was standing still. It got me thinking along the lines of health versus performance and how they are related. I came to the conclusion that they are related, but more like distant cousins than siblings.


I can provide you data that indicates health status: blood pressure, resting heart rate, BMI, percentage of body fat, current illnesses, etc. Given all that, tell me. Can I run a four-minute mile? That question can’t be answered with the data I provided. That’s because I’m now talking about performance versus health.


As it relates to databases, we can look at health metrics: CPU utilization, I/O stats, memory pressure, et al. However, those also can’t answer the question of how your databases and queries are performing. I’d argue that both health AND performance monitoring and analysis are important and can impact each other, but they really do answer different questions.


Health is a very mature topic and pretty much all database monitoring solutions offer this visibility. Performance is another story. I love this definition of performance from Craig Mullins as it relates to databases – the optimization of resource use to increase throughput and minimize contention, enabling the largest possible workload to be processed.” Interestingly, I believe this definition would be widely accepted, yet approaches to achieving this with monitoring tools varies widely. While I agree with this definition, I’d add “in the shortest possible time” to the end of the definition. If you agree that a time component needs to be considered with regards to database performance, now we’re talking about wait-time analysis. Here’s a white paper that goes into much more detail on this approach and why it is the correct way to think about performance.


Stop chasing red herrings and stop resolving symptoms. Get to the root cause of database performance issues using the right approach.




For more on this topic, check out my webcast recording- Database Performance on Tap. Feel free to comment below with your thoughts, questions, or ideas for my next webcast!

Christmas has come early, and Santa has brought everyone a present. No, its not a football.


Actually, the SAM Engineering team is responsible for this holiday joy. I will not spoil the surprise but you can get a hint of what's inside the beta by checking out the What We're Working On For Server & Application Monitor (Updated December, 2019) post. What are you waiting for?! Click the button below to sign up and download.



Must be under active maintenance for SAM


And as an added bonus, anyone who participates in the beta and provides feedback, will be awarded 3000 THWACK points!


What is SolarWinds SAM?

Posted by gminks Dec 12, 2016

Hi y’all! I’m the new product marketing manager for SolarWinds SAM – Server and Application Monitor. For the last few years, the products I’ve worked on have been focused on storage infrastructure and backups. Now that I’m part of the SolarWinds team I’ll be concentrating on monitoring infrastructures; the hardware and maybe even more importantly the applications that run on that hardware.


I’ve been at SolarWinds for three months, and I’m just starting to dig into the actual technology of SAM. I thought I’d work out loud, and blog my way through learning about my new product.


What is SolarWinds SAM?

SAM is an application monitoring product. It monitors servers and applications, gathering and pushing info by using native tools (SNMP or Windows® WMI, PowerShell®, etc.) or a lightweight agent to gather important host information. (I’ll cover why you’d want to use an agent vs going agentless in a future blog post). Information can also be gathered using templates -  specialized scripts that go directly to a server to gather specific information. There are out-of-the box templates for over 200 enterprise applications (including Exchange®, SharePoint®, etc.). You can also pull in scripts you have written, or design your own templates to gather information on applications that have been developed in-house.


Of course you can monitor Windows and Linux® servers, whether they are on-premises or in the cloud with SAM. Once it’s set up, SAM will alert you in real time about the health of the elements in your environment. But that’s just the beginning. Once SAM is installed, it automatically discovers your applications and maps out all of that app’s dependencies. It makes real-time, logical connections between hosts, networks, and applications with the information it gathers, allowing you to zero in on the real problem if you start getting tickets that SharePoint is slow. Is it SharePoint? IIS? A problem with a LUN? Is it really the network? You’re going to be able to identify performance problems in your environment, and can even remediate some of them directly from the SAM dashboard.


Exchange Application Summary.png


You won’t be taking on new technical debt, because you can still take advantage of scripts you’ve written, whether they are PowerShell, shell, or for other monitoring platforms such as Nagios® , by importing them into SAM.


Oh and bonus….you now have an inventory of all of your hardware and software. Pretty cool huh?


What's the Orion Platform?

You’ll see lots of references to Orion® sprinkled throughout content about SAM. The Orion Platform serves as the foundation for many SolarWinds products, including SAM. It provides a common set of services to the products that can plug into the platform:

  • Dashboards (common navigation and user experience across products)
  • Alerts
  • Permissions
  • Data storage


Orion Platform.png




The coolest thing about the Orion Platform is that it’s extendable. Once you install SAM, you also have the benefits of the Orion Platform. And if you add other SolarWinds products like VMAN for virtualization monitoring or DPM for database monitoring, you’ll extend the Orion Platform and be able to see deep relationships between an application (SAM) sitting on a VM (VMAN), sitting on a server (SAM), connected to a database (DPM) on a VM (VMAN) on a server (SAM), all using storage from the same array (SRM). All from one pane of glass. For real.


Once I blog all about SAM, I’ll dig into how adding other SolarWinds products that use the Orion platform help you take your application monitoring to the next level.


How can I learn more?

There are tons of resources to help you learn more about SAM. Here’s what I’m using to get up to speed:

  • Customer Success Center
    Yes, this is our official support site, but you have access to lots of content on this page even before you become a Solarwinds customer. Check out all the resources for SAM!
  • Customer Training
    You must be a customer to access this training, but here’s the amazing thing: all of this training is free for customers. All of the training is free, not just the products for which you’re under active maintenance. This means if you have SAM, but you’re interested in VMAN (our virtualization management product), you can go take the training to see if it will fit your needs!
  • Thwack Community
    The Thwack community of Solarwinds users is very active and vocal! The SAM-specific forum is here. The SAM Product Manager (and soon me!) post product-specific information here. More importantly, customers ask questions, and help each other.  One really interesting feature of this community is that members can upload and share SAM templates. I’ll go into depth about this in a future post as well.
  • Check out an interactive demo.


If you want to play along as I write, why not download a free trial and come along for the ride?


What I'll be writing about


Here is how I’ve plotted out the topics I’m planning to write about. I’ll add links to the posts as I publish them.

  • Overview of SAM – that’s this post
  • Architecture and Planning – How do you prepare for installing SAM?
  • Installation and Discovery – I’ll write about installing and discovering my lab
  • Configuration of application templates – I’ll configure templates that are included with SAM
  • Creating a custom template – I’ll configure a custom template
  • Future ideas: adding other Solarwinds products (SRM, VMAN, NPM); Security!
  • What would you like to see?

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