What is our primary use case?
Our primary use case is monitoring. We use the solution to get an overview of our entire environment and then drill down to view details. We look for issues that have happened in the past, that have been reported by users. We can then see what was going on, on the server, at that time, to cause such issues.
The only people who are using it are eight DBAs.
We did increase usage for lower environments rather than just production environments.
How has it helped my organization?
It just allows us to respond quickly to any database issues. We have customized the alerts to be "critical." We will actually then send a PagerDuty alert which will then buzz us. Non-critical stuff will go into our inbox and we'll look at it.
What is most valuable?
The most valuable features are disk space projections for planning, and also the Snapshotting ability, to look back in time, to see what was going on the server at a particular time. It's basically the output of an sp_who2.
What needs improvement?
We don't find that it helps us with performance monitoring and diagnostics. We find that SentryOne does that better.
In terms of alerts, we had to customize them dramatically so that we didn't get alerted on every little thing.
I would absolutely love to create customized dashboards but, unfortunately, they don't provide me the information that I need to create the report. The report I need is the transaction detail that's happening on those Snapshots. I'd like to be able to go back through time and search for things. I don't have that functionality, which is very disappointing. That's pretty bad and frustrating because I could query it and find out so much information about what's hitting my environment and when, but instead, they want control over it and to not give me that information. So it's encrypted. I can't pull it out and that is really bothersome.
For example, a use case is where a user is using a particular account from a particular desktop, to be able to connect to our database, and we want to track all the times that they did that. I have no facility to do that, even though the tool contains that information and stores that information. Instead, I have to go through the History Browser and click every five minutes and go back every five minutes and look and query and then go back and it's too cumbersome, considering it's a database tool. I should be able to query it like a database.
For how long have I used the solution?
One to three years.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
We've had stability issues where we have to restart the SQL Diagnostic Manager service because all of a sudden it has stopped collecting, so we didn't see any new Snapshots.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
We haven't had any issues with scalability.
How is customer service and technical support?
Our experience with technical support has been good.
How was the initial setup?
The initial setup gives too many user rights to the server, so you have to put a user that is part of the administrator's group - that's the preferred way - on each server, which is kind of a risk. You want to do least privilege and you're not doing that. They also have non-recommended settings and we use the non-recommended settings where we don't give full access. But it's kind of bad that that's what they recommend. As a company that supports databases, I would think they would also support least privilege.
The setup has been revisited a couple of times. We've moved it from server to server. It takes about three hours to get everything configured right. But that has been over the course of time because we'd have to tweak all the alerts, etc. If you really want to talk overall, it probably took six months to get everything just the way we wanted it.
Our implementation strategy was to not have it alert us every minute. We needed to reconfigure the alerts so that it wouldn't alert us all the time.
What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?
We were upgraded to Premium Support without their actually asking us, when we were quoted. Then I asked for Standard Support and that they had to re-quote us that. But they don't do that by default. They upcharge you by default, which I didn't think was very nice, without even asking.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
We looked at IDERA SQL Diagnostic Manager vs SQL Sentry. However, SQL Sentry is harder to configure for alerts.
What other advice do I have?
Work on configuration and take the time to configure alerts.
I rate it at seven out of ten because it does not handle performance-tweaking that well, but it does a good job on monitoring.