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Database Performance Analyzer (DPA) 2019.4 Is Now Generally Available

WHAT'S NEW IN DPA 2019.4

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.

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

New database types and versions

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:Alert Email Editing example.png
  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 template mgmt - better names.png
  4. Preview alert email contents for all applicable severities
    • Generated Email Preview: Email preview - long wait time.png
  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.

5 BP 2 bad.png

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.

For instances licensed with the VM Option, DPA now 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.

For instances licensed with the VM Option, 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 October, 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

Comments

Please upvote -

Fix the issue where "You will lose all of your custom relationships between DPA and the Orion Platform" when you recreate the integration.

I am assuming I can upgrade just DPA and not the rest of my Solarwinds Modules?  Just want to check before I think about updating DPA Thanks!

DPA 2019.4 is compatible with DPAIM 11.1 and later, so check your version at the bottom of your Orion home page.

See the DPA Installation and Upgrade Guide for more information.

As mentioned above, if you are changing the DPA server name, IP address, or credentials, you will have to recreate the integration, which will lose any custom relationships (DB to Application) you have defined in DPAIM.   Automatic relationships between databases and nodes will be reestablished when you recreate the integration.  Vote on fixing this issue here: 

Thanks!  We are just going to update it now and I wanted to make sure the installer just updated DPA - not everything else. 

Did you depreciate support yet for older versions of SQL?  We have some 2008 and older SQL that we monitor with DPA and one of my DBAs wanted me to check to make sure they will still work with DPA monitoring.  Thanks

The list of databases currently supported for monitoring are here: Database instances DPA can monitor

We do stop officially supporting the monitoring of older versions as the vendor stops supporting them, but in general, we do expect them to continue to work (but no guarantees).

Any changes to supported databases list in a new DPA version would be noted in the release notes.

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