Product Reviews

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.

About the Author

Mike Gunderloy, MCSE, MCSD, MCDBA, is a former MCP columnist and the author of numerous development books.

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