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    DPA 2019.4 - New Alert Email Customization, Best Practices Analysis, Azure SQL Managed Instance support, and more!

    We are excited to announce that the SolarWinds® Database Performance Analyzer (DPA) release 2019.4 is now available!

     

    Note that this is the first release using the new DPA version numbering format.

    DPA 2019.4 is the next release following DPA version 12.1.

     

    WHAT'S NEW IN DPA 2019.4

    DPA 2019.4 provides numerous enhancements including:

    • New DB versions - Support analysis of new database types and versions include Azure SQL Managed Instances
    • Custom Alert Email Templates - Create multiple alert email templates with custom content variables. For each alert, assign a specific or the default template.
    • Best Practices Analysis - Audit table and index definitions against a set of best practices
    • VM Co-Stop Delay Tracking - Identify the query performance impact of the Database's VM waiting for CPU resources
    • New REST APIs - Use new REST APIs to automate the management of alerting, group, custom properties and more

    Additional Information Links

    1. Read the release notes and the installation and upgrade guide for DPA 2019.4.
    2. Download the DPA 2019.4 software from both SolarWinds.com and the SolarWinds Customer Portal.
    3. For customers using the DPA Integration Module to access DPA information in Orion, read the Orion Platform Release Notes

     

    Enhancement Details

    New database types and versions supported

    DPA 2019.4 and DPAIM 2019.4 add the ability to analyze Azure SQL Managed Instance databases for the first time.

     

    They also add support for the following new database versions:

    • MariaDB 10.3
    • Microsoft SQL Server 2019 (Windows and Linux)
    • MySQL 8.0
    • Oracle 18.4 and 19
    • Percona 8.0

     

    Custom Email Alerting enhancements

    Create multiple email templates that can be customized for specific alert types with specific text and contextual variable values.

    Custom email templates for alerts can be advantageous in many circumstances.

    Examples include providing additional details useful for specific alerts, adhering to organizational message formatting standards, and enabling easier automated parsing of messages.

     

    DPA 2019.4 has added significant email alert customization enhancements including the ability to:

    1. Create multiple email templates allowing configuration of:
      • Subject and body content
      • HTML or Plain Text format
      • Variable substitution of DB instance values for numerous DPA collected information and custom properties
      • Alert Email Creation:Email Content Customization User Interface
    2. Assign a specific email template or the current default template to individual alerts
    3. Choose which email template to use as the default
      • Email Template Management:Alert Email Template Management UI
    4. Preview alert email contents for all applicable severities
      • Generated Email Preview: Email Preview
    5. Use REST APIs to retrieve and manage alert email templates, alert assignment, and create/assign custom properties

     

    Custom Property Variables

    The ability to create meta-data (custom property) variables and assign values to each monitored DB instance can provide useful contextual information to an alert. For example, custom properties could be used to identify what line of business or application uses the database, its business criticality, or even the responsible DBA's contact information. Having this information available can help expedite assignment and properly prioritize received alerts.

     

    Custom properties can both be defined and assigned different values for each monitored DB instance via REST APIs. Custom property variables can also be added to alert email template definitions and have their values displayed in generated alert emails.

     

    Best Practice Analysis of Tables

    When performance tuning a table, many experienced DBAs verify the table and its related index definitions against a checklist of common best practices. Now DPA's Table Tuning Advisor automatically assesses and advises on table best practices. Not only does this save time for DBAs, but the recommendation is helpful for application developers who may not even be aware of the best practices in the first place.

    Best Practice Screenshot

    The example above shows that 2 of 5 best practices are not being followed for a table.

    Identify query delays due to VM queueing for virtual CPU resources

    A hidden and difficult-to-diagnose root cause of poor query performance occurs when the VM supporting a database sits waiting for all of its configured virtual CPUs (vCPUs) to become available. VMWare tracks this as Co-Stop time. Even if nothing changes for the database or its application, a change in configuration or addition of unrelated VMs on the same vSphere host may periodically contend for vCPU resources. Instead of rapidly executing a query, the DB instead sits paused, waiting to run.

     

    Now DPA monitors two new CPU resources metrics (VM Total Co-Stop Time and VM Co-Stop Percentage) that track the time a DB's VM is queued waiting for contested vCPUs. If a query shows an unusually large amount of Memory/CPU wait time, you can check to see how long the database's VM was paused because of VM CPU resource contention.

     

    QPA VM Event Annotations

    DPA graph annotations are often used to provide additional contextual information about what occurred at a particular point in time. This information can be helpful to identify the reasons behind subsequent changes in resource usage or query performance.

    DPA now extends VM Event annotations to display in the Query Performance Analyzer graphs for all virtualization related metrics such as VM CPU Usage Percentage, VM Co-Stop, and VM Disk Usage Rate.

     

    For example, the VM containing a database was VMotioned to another host with different resources and contending VMs. Soon after, the response time of several queries rapidly degraded. DPA detects the VMotion event and creates a corresponding graph annotation point. A DPA user looking at various trend resource graphs will see the annotation, the subsequent performance impacts, and realize the problem is related to resource contention in the new VM Host.

     

    New DPA REST APIs

    Multiple REST APIs have been added in this release, allowing enhanced integration and management automation of DPA. Some of the newly created APIs enable you to manage:

    • Custom alert email templates and alert assignments
    • Custom property creation and DB instance value assignments
    • DPA advanced options
    • Retrieval of alerts and alert statuses
    • Database Group and Alert Group assignment of database instances

     

    DPA Integration Module (DPAIM) 2019.4

    For customers using DPAIM to integrate DPA information into Orion Dashboards, Perfstack, and more, the new release of DPA Integration Module 2019.4 for Orion includes:

    • Support of all the new database versions monitored by DPA 2019.4
    • Support using Azure SQL Managed Instances (ASMI) as a DPAIM Repository

     

    WHAT'S NEXT?

    Don't see what you are looking for here? Check out the What We Are Working On for DPA (Updated November, 2019) post for what the DPA team is investigating. 

    If you don't see everything you've been wishing for there, add it to the Database Performance Analyzer Feature Requests