Actionable SQL Sentry Alerting in 3 Steps (Part 1)

As a senior sales engineer, I often work with folks who have downloaded and installed a free trial of SQL Sentry. In my opinion, that is the best, and perhaps only, way to determine if a monitoring solution is right for your organization. Over the past few years of working closely with our prospects, I’ve noticed a common theme: everyone wants to know how to manage alerting!

I’ve boiled my SQL Sentry alerting advice down to three easy steps that I’ll cover in this blog series. By the end of the series, you’ll come away with knowledge of the techniques that will help you ensure your SQL Sentry alerts are actionable without the additional fluff that contributes to alert fatigue in so many enterprise environments.

Do (Almost) Nothing

When installing SQL Sentry for the first time, you’ll be prompted to provide SMTP server information to enable email alerts. My advice to every new user is to enable this option upon installation.

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At this point, my advice is to either utilize an email address in which an influx of alerts will not become a nuisance or create an inbox rule to file SQL Sentry alerts in their own folder for at least the first week of the trial period.

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Once the SMTP configuration is complete, let SQL Sentry alerting run for a week with no interference. Sure, it might seem like you’re receiving a lot of alerts, especially if you’re monitoring one or more production machines. But this is completely normal and expected at this stage. The goal is to see what SQL Sentry can find in your environment without prejudice.

Categorize the Alerts You Received

After a week of letting the SQL Sentry alerts fire at will, you’ll likely have a nice stack of alerts to review. At this point, I recommend going through the alerts and categorizing them into Always Helpful, Never Helpful, and Sometimes Helpful lists.

Once you’re finished with categorization, the Always Helpful and Never Helpful lists are the easiest to address. You don’t have to take any action for the alerts that are always helpful. For those alerts in the Never Helpful category, locate the alert in the Conditions pane (View > Conditions) and delete the action shown in green text, as shown in the screenshot below.

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Deleting the action does not preclude you from adding the alert back in if it becomes relevant in the future. Many people find Failsafe Conditions for servers and services coming online are unnecessary, as well as Windows Task failures.

What’s Next

In part two of this blog series, I’ll look at common conditions many SQL Sentry users place on the "Sometimes Helpful" list, such as Job Failure notifications and Duration Threshold Max alerts. I’ll also review time-tested techniques to help you curtail such alerts, so your inbox remains free of items less-than-critical to daily operations.

For more detailed information that can help you throughout your SQL Sentry trial process, check out our documentation and training courses.

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