Multiplatform Database Farm Monitoring and Inventory Management

 
Database administrators (DBAs) require a dedicated solution to assist them in their daily tasks of monitoring and managing the entire database farm. The custom scripts they once used for a few servers might no longer be effective in overseeing the current, more extensive database farm.
 

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A database farm comprises all the database servers, instances of various platforms, and versions used in an enterprise to support its day-to-day business operations or functions.      

As a DBA managing a large database farm, one of the most important things is to have a complete overview of your database farm.   

You should be able to answer questions such as:   

  • What is the health status of all databases/instances? Which databases need attention right now, and which should I prioritize?   
  • How many disk, memory, and CPU cores have been allocated to the database farm?   
  • What is the resource utilization for each instance?   
  • How many instances exist in my database farm?    
  • What are the database platforms and versions running in the database farm?   

Virtualized environments, resource allocation, and utilization are the issues. You should carefully analyze all the resources allocated in your database farm; you should have a clear overview of how the various resources like your disk, memory, and CPU are utilized in your database farm. You must determine if your servers have been over or under-provisioned with resources.   You should strive to allocate resources across the farm and VMs to maximize utilization and performance.

 

Documenting a large database farm is also a demanding issue as your database farm expands. With proper documentation, you have up-to-date information on your databases in the database farm. It makes maintenance easier, helps the management or DBA’s decision-making and diminishes risks. It is more straightforward to make an assessment or plan ahead using your database documentation as a guide.  

 

When you manage a database farm, you rarely have the time to create let alone maintain complete documentation of all resources in your farm. It would be best if you had tools to automate the documentation process.   

 

In your database farm, you need to ensure that all your backup jobs are running optimally and running as scheduled. You need to have complete control over your databases’ backup and recovery plan; it is essential if an unexpected situation like corrupted databases, sudden server failure, or other forms of data loss occur. You will use existing backups to restore lost information to the system.   

 

Imagine – having a database farm with hundreds or even thousands of instances. Do you still have enough time to remote connect to each database server to know its health status?   

 

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dbWatch Control Center helps users with their capacity and resource planning projects.  It features built-in views that display the capacity overview like your database resource consumption in the database farm.     

 

This overview provides DBAs and managers with information to determine which instances consume the most or least memory resource in the database farm.     It gives you clear information on which instances have excess resources allocated to them, which you can reallocate to instances that have more need for them.   

 

For example, this view displays the total disk usage in the database farm for you to determine which instances have the most amount of disks or volumes allocated. It also shows the usage rate per volume.    

  

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It’s a complete database farm monitoring and management solution, which offers automation, consolidated views, and performance reports giving you the key information you need at your fingertips. Automating your routine tasks helps you save time and effort on manually managing databases on your farm by focusing on more critical tasks at hand. At the same time, dbWatch Control Center does all the proactive monitoring of your database farm, allowing you to have complete control over your database farm.   

   

dbWatch Control Center offers the following:   

  • Farm overview – consolidated views for performance, capacity, and maintenance for your entire database farm   
  • Monitor in-depth all your instances and platforms    
  • Performance – identify performance bottlenecks within the farm   
  • Scalability – ability to adapt to your growing database farm   
  • Alerting – alerting and third-party extensions tailored to your business requirements   
  • Security – role-based access controls, Kerberos integration encrypts connections and support security certificates  

Summary   

 With dbWatch Control Center as your partner in monitoring and managing your database farm you achieve the following:   

  • Proactive monitoring displays a health overview of all databases in your database farm. It provides you with the necessary information for you to act against possible issues. 
  •  Provides complete information on your database farms’ total allocated hardware and resource utilization like your CPU, memory, and disk usage.    
  • Displays information on all instances in the database farm.    
  • Auto-discover instances on specified network ranges.    
  • Delivers information for performance metrics and identifies which database platforms and versions are running in your database farm.  

Discover Control Center today, download a trial version of dbWatch that monitors up to 5 instances for 6 months.  

What Does Your Database Inventory Look Like?

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As a database administrator dealing with SQL Server, MariaDB, or other database instances, you probably know a thing or two about database systems. If you’ve worked with certain database platforms in the past then you have probably taken a look at various database “inventories.” You’ve likely delved into what database instances consist of, what platforms or systems they support and their size.

In this blog, you’ll learn a little more about such database inventories. 

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What is a Database Inventory? 

Database inventory, in its simplest form, refers to everything a given database instance consists of – its platform, its edition, version, resources (memory and disk, etc.), given backups related to it, and so on, and so forth.

The monitoring of database platforms and database inventories is a near-daily task of every database administrator – if you find yourself wondering why, think about it. What kind of a database administrator wouldn’t want to know how his or her database instances are doing? Enough of tedious monitoring – just glance at your database inventory, and you will know everything. As easy as it gets! 

Database Inventory in dbWatch 

As far as dbWatch is concerned, it can provide you with a very good overview of your database inventory too.

How? Well, everything’s simple. Launch dbWatch, import your database instances into the platform, and you will be able to navigate towards a bunch of different options:

  • Monitoring capability, in the menu at the top as ‘the heart’
  • Management, the second one from the top (see the gear icon next to a database icon?)
  • Database farms, the third one from the top (That’s the silos) 

Essentially, by monitoring your “database farms” (multiple database instances) you will be able to see an inventory overview provided by dbWatch. Remember how we said that a database inventory refers to everything you have inside of your databases? Yeah, you will be able to see everything here too!

The things that will be monitored in you “database inventory” include your

  • Database platforms
  • Additions
  • Versions
  • Points relating to your database memory and storage
  • Information about backup and maintenance

The database inventory functionality can be really useful if you find yourself with multiple database instances of the same type (say, if you find yourself working with MySQL, SQL Server, MariaDB, or other database instances as well): 

In addition, you will be able to see the status of a given database instance, its name, version, port, how many databases you have, etc. – if you have a lot of database instances, can you imagine remembering these kinds of things manually?

It’s convenient. dbWatch also provides you with the status of your disks and memory (we don’t have many MySQL instances imported for this example, so our example “inventory” is small, but you get the point.) However, if you find yourself even with one or two database instances, you will still be able to keep an eye out on your database jobs and their status as seen below. 

Should you find yourself running many database jobs on a lot of database instances, you can observe them all here. dbWatch also provides you with the status of your jobs, including the number of the database jobs you have scheduled. 

However, the monitoring of your database jobs might not be enough, so you will be able to observe the activity of your database instances, too. dbWatch can also split the monitoring into platforms as well. In this case, dbWatch will provide you with the amount of total and active sessions, the amount of total sessions per platform, per version, and per instance, etc.: 

 

See that the amount of your active sessions is abnormal? Time to kill some of them! You should get the point by now. 

 Summary 

Your database inventory consists of multiple important things.  dbWatch can help you monitor all of them.

Need to check how your database jobs are doing? No problem, head over to the Farm jobs section.

 

Curious how many database instances are currently being monitored by dbWatch? No issues here as well, dbWatch can help you monitor them per platform, per edition, or also per version. If you are backing up your data, the dbWatch inventory overview page will also provide you with some valuable information regarding backups such as the total backup size per platform, how much your backups weigh in megabytes, how much do they weigh when compressed, etc. 

 

Finally, you can also get a very good overview of the activity that is going on inside your database instances too – dbWatch will provide you with the number of total sessions and active sessions, total sessions per platform, the number of total sessions per top 20 instances, etc.: monitoring of your database inventory can be a very easy and fast way to put your database instances towards the fastlane of performance, availability, and capacity at the same time.

 

Discover dbWatch today and see how it performs! 

Managing Database Farms vs. Managing Single Database Instances

If you are a frequent reader of the dbWatch blog, you might have noticed that this blog has discussed SQL instance management and database farm management in the past. The previous blog on SQL instance management versus database farm management discussed the core differences between managing SQL instances and database farms – look at this blog post as an extension of it. 

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How do You Manage a Database Farm? 

As already noted in a previous blog post about database farms, the main tasks concerning database farm management include getting a comprehensive overview of the database farm, always monitoring its status and health and managing all the resources relevant to those database farms.

 

In the real world though, challenges related to database farms are a little more complex. When you have many database instances – in other words, when you are dealing with a “database farm” – you no longer have a keen sense of what each and every database instance consists of and sometimes you might even find that the number of database instances you need to manage is incomprehensible – if someone asked you how many database instances your company has, you might answer “well, many” because you do not even know the exact number!

 

Once even the number becomes lost, there are a few things you should keep in mind to keep your database farm running smoothly:

 

  • Monitor your database farm for consistency – consistency might prove to be one of the key things related to your database farm. To achieve consistency, you might find that some of your farm settings would need to be adjusted, you would need to know when something goes awry or uncoordinated, you should also consider using software to detect and adjust instances that are not consistently performing at the best of their abilities. 
  • Make sure the processes in your database farms are automated as far as possible – managing tens, hundreds or even thousands of database instances is never easy. To ease the pain of managing your databases, make sure that all maintenance routines are deployed and working automatically on all the database instances and make sure that you can predict potential problems as soon as possible. Ideally, identified problems should be automatically resolved by software in use. 
  • If possible, make sure the workflows your company uses are automated too – improved workflows can help your DBAs prioritize tasks, alert the right part of your organization about a certain problem, and improve the time used to correct issues. 

Keep these things in mind and your database farms should run very smoothly.

Managing Single Database Instances 

Now that you know how you should manage database farms, it is time to investigate how you should go about managing single database instances too. In general, to run your database instances running smoothly, you should keep an eye on:

  • Availability – the availability of your database instances, especially a single database instance, is crucial. The downtime of your database could cause problems to both you and your business.
  • Capacity – the capacity of your database instances is, of course, also crucial – even more so if you are dealing with a single database instance! If you run out of disk space, you might find yourself (and your business) in big trouble. Running out of capacity might mean that you need to replace your drives and replacing the disk drives could cause downtime and potential customer loss for your business, so it is important always keep an eye out on the capacity of your disks too.
  • Performance – performance is obviously one of the core metrics as far as any kind of database instance is concerned. Ensure that your database instance is always performing well and you should be on the path to a better future for your data (and your business)

Managing Single Database Instances and Database Farms with dbWatch 

If you find yourself using dbWatch, you might find that that managing both single database instances and database farms gets easier and easier. Part of that is because dbWatch can provide all the information you would need to manage database instances or database farms – dbWatch will provide you with a comprehensive overview of all the database instances your business is dealing with, it will allow you to monitor the status and health of your database instances, you will also be able to see what is happening inside of them too:

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For example, click on the database farms icon at the left hand side, expand the Inventory overview section and the Per platform section and you will see something like this:

Colorful, isn’t it? In this scenario, colors are important. Here you see that half of the circle is pink while the other half is blue meaning that some of your database instances run one database management system while others run a different one. In this case, we are dealing with MySQL and MS SQL Server.

 

If you are dealing with a database farm, you already probably see the value in this – if you have tens (or even hundreds) of database instances, you will certainly not be counting how many of them run what database management systems. Don’t even remember how many database instances your database farm runs? Just glance at the database instance count at the left side. It is that easy!

 

Do not want to observe the status of your database farms like that? Need to check the Availability, Capacity or Performance of any one of them at any given time? No issues, just go back to the index page for a second.

At the image above you can see that we have loads of database instances. Some of them have problems, some of them run like bees. Expand one of the database instances and you will be able to monitor the Availability, Capacity and Performance of the instance, you will also be able to run database jobs on that instance (jobs allow you to monitor the things quickly and easily – you will quickly be alerted once something goes wrong). Oh, and did we mention that jobs can (and probably will) vary according to the database instance you are using? 

 

This trick can be useful no matter if you choose to monitor single database instances or database farms – just choose to monitor MySQL, for example, and you will see a bunch of database jobs that are suited for MySQL’s storage engines (InnoDB, MyISAM and the like), other database management systems will have different jobs available depending on what you use – different database management systems have different things that need to be monitored:

It is hard to even begin to imagine the monitoring of so many things manually without using any assistance provided by tools like dbWatch. Be sure to try dbWatch out today or contact support if you need any assistance – they will be glad to help.

Use these image:

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Learn how to manage your database farms download a trial version of dbWatch.

 

Managing SQL Server Farms

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Imagine transitioning from managing a small family farm to overseeing an extensive industrial farm. That considerable change is similar to what a DBA managing a SQL Server experiences.

 

In this webinar, DBA Fundamentals virtual group in PASS, Per Christopher explores the journey from managing a handful of SQL servers to operating vast database server farms. Per draws parallels between agricultural farm management and SQL Server farm management.

As a Senior DBA with over 15 years of experience at dbWatch AS, a Norwegian software company specializing in database operations solutions, Per Christopher shares invaluable lessons on upgrading your mindset and toolset as your farm grows.

“Most DBAs are cowboys, but there is much to learn from the world of cow herding and dairy farms that can help us manage SQL Server instances better. SQL Server farms are the future of large-scale database management, and we will teach you the ropes. Introducing the FarmQueryLanguage brings another dimension of control to large-scale management. Managing large database farms requires a different mindset and tools compared to having only a few instances.”

Learn How to Manage SQL Server Farms

Webinar highlighs include: an in-depth discussion of the new challenges that managing a large farm brings, from how you think (see the forest, not just the trees) and how you change your focus from instance-centric performance and health to farm-centric resource management.

 

Watch the webinar to understand how to better manage SQL Server farms.