What is our primary use case?
We use it to look at the overarching environment and, from there, we're able to pick and choose which servers and databases we want to view more closely. We manage over 300 servers, and 14,000 databases. We're constantly in the tool, utilizing it to drill down and determine what is going on with a specific database and query, or cache, etc.
How has it helped my organization?
We get hundreds of alerts per day, because we manage so many different servers and databases, that alert us to disk space issues, query issues, a wide variety of things. We take that information and we're able to make proactive decisions as to what we need to do.
In terms of the solution helping us with performance monitoring and diagnostics, sticking with the alerting feature, we're able to diagnose issues prior to their actually becoming issues. Without the alerting, we wouldn't have a clue as to what was going to happen. With the alerting, it gives us a heads-up that a specific threshold has been met, and we need to take specific action.
Overall, it has allowed us to do more with database management and run more databases on a given server, because we're able to isolate issues quicker and take the proactive steps necessary to correct them. We were spread out with many servers running databases. We've consolidated some 80 servers down to just a handful. We're getting more bang for the buck out of the equipment that we have.
What is most valuable?
There are so many features. One of the most valuable features is the ability to alert, proactively, on a variety of issues on which we would normally not get a heads-up, that something is going to happen. The alerting functionality is important.
There are a few pre-designed reports that we use for database and disk usage growth, that allow us to show, over time, how much a database and disk space have grown. They help us plan for the coming year.
What needs improvement?
I'm going to do an upgrade which may resolve my issues, but one area for improvement is its ability to handle the amount of data that we collect with it. We're likely one of the largest installations, with over 300 servers being collected with this product, and sometimes there are gaps. That would really be my only concern, in terms of how the data is collected and stored, for consistency.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
We haven't had any issues with the stability of the solution recently.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
Scalability is what I mentioned earlier, regarding room for improvement. It doesn't seem to scale out to an environment as large as ours, with just a single monitoring server. We're monitoring over 300 servers with one. That seems to cause some issues with stuff getting skipped, or gaps being produced.
How is customer service and technical support?
I would evaluate tech support as "fair." It has declined over recent years. It's not what it once was.
How was the initial setup?
The initial setup was straightforward. Click, click, click and that was it. The install process took 15 minutes. It was ten years ago, so I'm doing my best to recall correctly.
Regarding our installation strategy, the initial reason we bought it was to evaluate how it was going to work in our environment; to monitor a variety of servers to see how we were doing.
What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?
The pricing seems fair to me.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
We evaluated several solutions back then. I'm sure Redgate was in the mix, and we had our own little set of scripts that we used to run that would just give us some information, but this is the one we decided to go with. It was a long time ago. I don't remember the reasons why.
What other advice do I have?
Evaluate your different options and choose what you think is the best fit. Every one has its pros and cons. I always equate software to my experience - and I'm dating myself - back in the 80s, with radar detectors for cars. The radar detector companies would come out with a product that would pick up radar much better, so you wouldn't get stopped for speeding, and then one would come out with something better, and it would just go back and forth. It's the same thing with databases. Ultimately, you pick a platform, be it Oracle or SQL or whatever, you stick with it and go with it. You re-evaluate as time goes on, but as time goes on, it becomes more entrenched and more ingrained. So do your research up front and make sure you can live with it. Think about all the different options and where you're going to be in five or ten years.
In terms of our implementation, we have not used the solution to create any custom dashboards, charts, or counters. We have 12 DBAs using the system. I'm the only one in our organization who deploys this product. At this time we don't have any plans for increased usage. We're already monitoring the vast majority of our SQL Servers.
I would rate this solution a seven out of ten, primarily because of the scalability issue we've seen. It has a lot of really nice features in it, but the scalability, from our standpoint, is what's holding it back right now.