REVIEWER: Sarah Barela, DBA manager, MaximumASP.

BACKGROUND: MaximumASP, based in Louisville, Kentucky, was founded in 2000 and currently hosts more than 44,000 domains for customers in more than 60 countries. With a strong focus on hosting solutions that combine advanced monitoring and management tools, MaximumASP has become a top choice for Microsoft developers seeking a robust hosting platform for mission-critical Web applications.

HARDWARE PLATFORMS: Microsoft Windows Server 2003 and SQL Server 2000 and 2005.

 PROBLEM SOLVED: Before Event Manager, the DBA staff needed to juggle tools and dig for the information necessary to resolve a single issue. Often this required 30 to 35 clicks. Now with Event Manager, the information is available in just one or two clicks, easily saving an hour per server per day. By significantly reducing the time expended on daily operational chores, Event Manager enables our database operations group to concentrate on the strategic management of the enterprise.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Event Manager's Outlook-style console allows our DBAs to see, understand and mitigate the impact a job or combination of jobs is having on server and application performance. Reliable, informative and easy-to-manage notifications are especially important to our enterprise. Configuring individual failure alerts was a tedious and time-consuming task. Event Manager's centralized management eliminates the need to touch each server, and it uses SMTP so we don't have the maintenance or security concerns of MAPI. Plus, its alert messages reliably deliver the insightful information needed to jump-start a DBA response or even avoid the dreaded 3 a.m. trip to the data center. Event Manager was easily configured to notify our hosting clients directly on the status of their SQL Server Agent jobs, Windows tasks, DTS packages and more. These alerts carry granular event info and can be customized with specific recovery steps or escalation procedures. This has greatly reduced the burden on our DBA team, saving time and increasing client satisfaction.

STRENGTHS: Event Manager allows us to see, understand and manage our servers with drag-and-drop ease. We spend less time reviewing job logs and/or researching job failures. There has been a dramatic drop in the time and costs required to manage our enterprise. Additionally, we have seen a significant increase in server schedule performance and capacity. The improved alerting in Event Manager ensures our awareness of enterprise health and a proactive response to critical situations. With a little effort, we can even make certain conditions self-healing. Installing and managing server agents is painful in a large enterprise - Event Manager doesn't use agents; it works with and enhances the native scheduling agents.

WEAKNESSES: The visual workflow interface for event chains is nice, but it would be even better to be able to visualize event chains using their great calendar interface. This  will be in the next major release.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Before Event Manager, we used the burdensome process of specialized scripts and manual documentation to manage our job schedules. We also tried a collection of different third-party products, but nothing exhibited a true understanding of what DBAs really need. I can't imagine going back to the old methods or using some of the less comprehensive competing products in an attempt to tackle the same problems.

DELIVERABLES: Event Manager has powerful auditing and logging features instantly alerting us any time a hosting client creates or deletes a SQL Agent job, Windows task or DTS package. Event Manager lets us keep a complete history of all events across our enterprise for as long as needed. And Event Manager offers a set of preconfigured reports including current failures, management summary, performance counters list, configured actions lists and notification lists. The schedule performance and runtime graphs provide insightful information supporting better enterprise management; plus, we can simply share them with designated clients.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Support is very responsive and high quality. The vendor operates an exemplary customer services portal, enabling 24x7 self-service access to license keys, software downloads and documentation.

DOCUMENTATION: The documentation is complete and easy to understand. The quick-start wizard makes installation and startup quick and pain free.

Event Manager for SQL Server
SQL Sentry, Inc.
16415 Northcross Drive
Huntersville, NC 28078
(704) 895-6241

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