Jez Marsh is a SolarWinds MVP and the founder of Silverback Systems U.K., a solutions provider working with customers to sharpen their operations processes and maximize their investment in their monitoring solutions. He primarily works with customers to implement SolarWinds network management software and systems management solutions but has found a growing need for customers to investigate and solve database-related performance issues.
Hi Jez, explain to us what you do at Silverback Systems.
Jez Marsh, SolarWinds MVP:
I founded Silverback Systems Services LTD in 2015. Silverback is a U.K.-based consultancy firm specializing in enterprise monitoring technologies and IT operations. We are a SolarWinds Authorized Partner and specialize in helping SolarWinds customers with implementation, health checks, and training of their monitoring solutions, specializing in the areas of network and systems performance monitoring.
Before Silverback, I worked in IT and ran a 24/7 NOC team, hence I have hands-on, practical knowledge of ITOM (IT Operations Management) best practices. I’ve been working with the SolarWinds© Orion© Platform for 10 years now.
What has your experience been with SolarWinds Database Performance Analyzer (DPA)?
A lot of customers don’t necessarily know about DPA. But when I tell them what the product can do, they are keenly interested and will introduce me to their DBAs. Once the DBAs see DPA, they love the concept.
In fact, I would say only 10% of my customers have DPA. Generally, the bigger the company, the more propensity to monitor their databases, but organizations of any size can benefit from DPA. I’ve also seen many people now hosting their database instances in the cloud and don’t realize the platform is exposed to them to analyze.
Do a lot of your customers have Server & Application Monitor (SAM) for basic database platform monitoring?
Yes, in fact, most of my customers start with Network Performance Monitor (NPM) or SAM and don’t even realize the breadth of the SolarWinds ITOM (IT Operations Management) portfolio of products. Unfortunately, many companies are siloed when it comes to operations management. The good news is many CIOs are looking at the big picture to when it comes to ITOM strategies.
Have you helped companies evaluate DPA?
Yes, and since most of my interaction with customers lasts only around four weeks, I’ve found that even in a short period of time, most find benefit with the product. Also, many organizations I work with only have one or two DBAs and don’t have anything in place to monitor the health of their database instances. DPA is such a powerful tool for DBAs, especially when it comes down to solving problems like database lock issues.
Lastly, I have worked with customers who don’t have a DBA, only SysAdmins with high-level database experience. They really need a tool like DPA to expose issues such as locking and poor SQL query performance.
What have you seen as the driving factor for your customers who select DPA?
DPA helps address two key issues. Number one is downtime, which for most of my customers equates to real financial impact. Second is the manual effort required to mitigate common database performance problems
I would say most people who experience service levels issues purchase DPA within days or weeks of downloading the product. I’ve found the product sells itself in accounts who have no visibility into their DBMS instances. For those who already have NPM or SAM implemented, the SolarWinds PerfStack™ functionality of the Orion Platform simplifies the resolution of performance issues via a single pane of glass by bringing together metrics from DPA, NPM, SAM, and other SolarWinds solutions into one chart so you can quickly identify the key issue.
One last comment I’d like to add is that SolarWinds Storage Resource Monitor (SRM) works together with DPA since storage-related issues are at the crux of so many database performance issues.
What are some of the trends you are seeing with your customers?
I’m seeing an increased number of DevOps teams, especially in more established organizations who want good integration between teams and who want to ensure everyone has visibility to a common set of metrics.
From a DBMS perspective, I’ve seen the strategic growth of Microsoft SQL Server, especially after the introduction of columnstore indexes in SQL Server 2016. However, most of my larger clients have more than one DBMS platform.
Any final thoughts around DPA or database performance management in general?
I believe DPA is a very well-designed solution and I don’t think there’s any better solution for database performance management on the market. I would ask any current SolarWinds NPM or SAM customer the following:
- Do you know if you have any queries running away or using too many resources?
- How do you know if the database instances supporting your mission-critical applications are optimized? If you can’t answer either question, then you should look at DPA because it’s all about protecting yourself against poor service levels and potential downtime.
Jez, thanks very much for your time and expertise. This has been great.