NetIQ SQL Management Suite
A solid overall resource and event management solution for multiple SQL Servers.
I mentioned NetIQ's new SQL Management Suite of integrated SQL Server management
products last issue. This time around, I got the chance to give it a spin. Here
are some impressions of the new pieces here (I didn't spend much time with AppManager,
the original application on which the suite is built this time around; it remains
a solid overall resource and event management solution for multiple SQL Servers.
Recovery Manager I just gave a quick spin. That's because this piece is functionally
identical to Lumigent's Log Explorer - NetIQ licensed it as an OEM product.
As with the original, this is a superb tool for looking at exactly what's happened
in your database by translating SQL Server logs into something that a human
being can use. In many circumstances, Recovery Manager lets you pinpoint transactions
to roll back (it has some limitations in that SQL Server doesn't log everything)
without undoing other transactions or restoring a backup. Of course, you'd better
know what you're doing; mucking about with transactions on a granular level
can leave you in a worse situation than when you started.
Configuration Manager for SQL Server is the automated change detection part
of the suite. This is implemented as an interesting mix of MMC application and
Web pages; you drill into a tree with MMC until you find what you want to look
at, then open a Web page to see the details. Configuration Manager can give
you lots of details about your server, both in the SQL Server configuration
and in the overall machine configuration. It's easy to set up a baseline and
see changes, and easy to compare servers with one another. Definitely worthwhile
if you have many servers that you want to make sensibly identical.
I've saved the best for last. Diagnostic Manager makes monitoring multiple
servers for trouble practically a video game. About ten seconds after installing
it I had little mini-monitors on screen telling me what was up with five of
my SQL Servers. Clicking around drilled into details of server, database, and
beyond, and a bunch of performance graphs made it easy to see where the hot
spots were. Best of all, Diagnostic Manager is fast and it doesn't require installing
any agents, working just by SQL queries. Just don't tell your boss how amusing
the 3D graphs are and maybe he'll still let you buy it.
A word about the "suite" aspect of SQL Management Suite: in this version, it's
still clearly four disparate products bundled together, not a truly integrated
suite. There are connections between the applications (particularly between
Configuration Manager and AppManager) but the look and feel of them is all different.
That doesn't make these less useful tools; it just makes me hope they're all
getting a facelift and tighter integration in the next version.
Mike Gunderloy, MCSE, MCSD, MCDBA, is a former MCP columnist and the author of numerous development books.