July 15, 2008 | SQL Server

Performance Advisor : A Quick "Two Thumbs Up"

I have been playing with Performance Advisor, the new companion to the very popular Event Manager software from SQL Sentry.  Right off the bat, I can tell you that this tool should have Quest and Idera shaking in their boots, as it is really going to give them a run for their money.  While a late comer to this segment of the market, Performance Advisor has definitely been worth the wait.

Rather than a big long bulleted list detailing every last feature, or demonstrating the differences between the products, I would rather highlight the three features that I like best so far, and that are already saving me time.

Disk Activity

This tab provides a visual depiction of your disks, the database files on each disk, and read/write activity.  It allows you to quickly identify I/O issues as they are happening.  Dashed lines will show current activity, and a tooltip over a database file tells you which database it represents, and whether it is data or log.  Like the arrows between operators in a graphical execution plan, thicker dashes mean heavier I/O and latency, with the addition of movement and color as visual cues to warn you about bottlenecks.

Disk Activity

Top SQL Analysis

Like it sounds, this shows the most resource intensive statements, and you can quickly rank by specific resource type (e.g. CPU, or I/O, or duration).  Filtering and sorting are effortless, and all this without having to go and manually run a trace.  The best part about this is that I can see individual statements (including actual parameters), or I can "normalize" and aggregate the statements to have placeholders for parameters (like you can do to some extent now, with a lot of manual work, or by using a tool like ClearTrace).

Top SQL Analysis

Dashboard

Very rarely do you come across the perfect balance of form and function; but, these folks have done it here, in my eyes.  The dashboard has pretty much all of the useful metrics that I would want to see at a glance, and best of all, it is SEXY.  You can switch between current metrics, and a different view which shows historical trends.  The latter allows you to quickly see peaks and valleys, and determine whether the current scenario for any metric has been normal over the given time range.  And their QuickTrace functionality means I will likely never need to run Profiler again.

PA Dashboard - current

PA Dashboard - historical 

I encourage you to take a look and, if you like what you see, download the trial!

4 comments on this post

    • Jack V - July 21, 2008, 11:20 AM

      How does it perform remotely?

    • AaronBertrand - July 22, 2008, 8:17 PM

      Hi Jack,
      I have been fairly happy with performance.  I consider this kind of a two-part question: (1) how does the app impact the production server(s), and (2) how does the app respond.
      For (1), I have seen little to zero impact on baseline performance.  It seems that most of the things that PA is doing are light-weight enough that they would only stand out on very quiet systems.
      For (2), any time the app has "stuttered" in presenting data, I am more than willing to blame the flaky connectivity between our office and the data center I am most frequently monitoring, because this causes all kinds of other problems not PA-related.  To get around this I also installed a console on a server within the data center, and then access it via remote desktop.  Both have their little blips but it all depends on whether you are more patient waiting for an app to refresh or waiting for a mouse click to register.  In other words, none of the problems here are really application-specific.  🙂

    • Richard Long - July 23, 2008, 2:15 AM

      What is the overhead, comparing with QUEST and other software?

    • AaronBertrand - July 23, 2008, 5:52 AM

      Richard,  I haven't done that kind of analysis (please feel free to do so; the trial is free).  It is working well for me but I haven't had a chance to do any really in-depth calculations on how much it is really costing me.

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