The alerting process, ease of setup and configuration are certainly valuable to us, as they keep us informed of the environment when things are running well – but the real strength of SpotLight w/PA is the ability to go back in time to find exactly what was causing an issue (or the pre-emptively highlight anomalies that may become issues in the future). The ability to fine-tune different alert levels, and to have it page the appropriate group for critical issues makes this product a vital part of our support structure.
Improvements to My Organization
The IT and Engineer divisions rely upon the product to analyze existing issues, and QA code changes. This application suite provides us with three different focus points: Customer Support uses it to maintain awareness of current systems-state. Information Technology uses it to understand and track system-level issues, as well as capacity planning, growth forecasting, and 24 hour text alerts of Critical issues. The Engineering team uses it to review impacts of code-changes, and for performance-tuning. Spotlight is the Jenkon single-point monitoring tool.
Room for Improvement
Jenkon is a Microsoft Partner, and we use Hyper-V as our virtualization base. This version of Spotlight provides additional information about “Virtualization Overhead”, but only for VMware (not Hyper-V).
Also, a wonderful “extra” of the Spotlight environment, was the ability to monitor, troubleshoot, and receive alarms directly to our mobile devices – via the Mobile Spotlight App. Unfortunately, the App broke when we upgraded from version 9 to version 10.
We have just participated in the live demonstration/training of the newest version of Spotlight (version 11.5). The good news is that both of these enhancements have been addressed in the latest version.
Use of Solution
We started using the Spotlight/PA tools in August of 2013. The original version that we installed was 9.5.0.
The initial installation on our diagnostics server was very straightforward. Basic configuration was very simple, and even the more complex settings that can be set – were described in detail in the documentation.
The application was extremely stable and we had experienced no issues whatsoever, until we had to upgrade from version 9 to support Server 2012-R2. This issue was related to SQL 2008-R2, which required the urgent rebooting of the instance (Which was not a good thing to do with Production servers). We lost visibility of these servers from the new version of Spotlight until the reboot was performed
We had no issues scaling it for our needs.
Customer Service and Technical Support
The issue listed above has been the only time we’ve needed to have support help. They were unaware of the SQL 2008-R2 issue, and have verified that a similar issue does not exist in the new version. They have offered to be “on the line” when we perform this latest upgrade – to ensure our comfort level.
Previously, we were using Confio Ignite to monitor our systems. This product was very reliable, but considerably more complex to setup and configure. Alerting functions were limited, and there was no mobile app available.
The initial setup was straightforward, as this is a clientless install. The application is installed on a Diagnostics Server, with a SQL server back-end. We even use the same server to monitor multiple domains (untrusted). SQL DBAs can also configure specific monitoring/analytics that are more tailored to the details that they need.
The installation was performed by the IT department, and was simple. However, we recommend that a vendor team be involved with any upgrades to ensure compatibilities and assist with any unknown issues that arise.
The Return on Investment for Spotlight is against soft-costs, generally speaking. It has drastically cut down on issue response-time, resolution-time, and development costs (in terms of shorter development/QA times). Work with your vendor to discuss your long-term goals for this product, and set up a test/demo environment first to see the value-add for your environment.
The new version has all of the enhancements that we were hoping for. We highly recommend this to any company that relies upon their SQL DB environments for critical data, and cannot afford downtime (or wish to mitigate issues, and shorten resolution times).
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.