Why Alerting Tools Often Fail Database Administrators

By: Thomas LaRock


I have smoke detectors in my house. They are really good at telling me when there is smoke, or a fire, providing I keep fresh batteries in them of course. They are really lousy at preventing smoke, or fires, from happening in the first place.

I was a production DBA for seven years with a large financial services firm. I used to think what I wanted was a smoke detector. So I built my own and eventually I bought as many as possible. What I eventually found out was that all the smoke detectors in the world were not helping me prevent the fires from happening. I didn’t want to be on alert 24×7. Nobody wants that. But that is what I had with all of those smoke detectors. Bells and whistles all day long. I could never focus on fixing the problem, I was constantly being asked to react to the symptoms. What I wanted was a tool that could help me prevent problems before they would happen. I needed a way to find the root cause of performance problems.

What I wanted (and eventually found) was SolarWinds Database Performance Analyzer. I became a customer and liked the tool so much I came to work for the company. If you are an administrator that is responsible for maintaining database performance and are thinking that a tool built around the same principles of a smoke detector is going to help you be more efficient in your job then I am here to tell you this: You’re doing it wrong.

You want a tool that helps you find the root cause. You want a tool that helps you prevent problems. You want a tool that helps you identify performance bottlenecks in “four clicks or less.” Well, you want those things if you want to sleep at night. Otherwise go and buy yourself a smoke detector. When you are ready for a tool that can make a difference let us know. We’ll be here to help.

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