In a previous post, we examined how to find if a job inside of SQL Server Agent is running longer than it should. In this post, we take a similar approach but shift our focus to individual job steps.
SQL Server persists data inside the msdb database for job history between restarts. The job history also includes data on the individual job steps. Therefore, we can do analysis on the job step history data to find if there are job steps running long. Here, we will define “running long” as job steps that are currently running longer than two standard deviations away from the mean (i.e., an outlier).
There are four variables in the script.
- @MinHistExecutions - Minimum number of job step executions we want to consider. I like to set this to five or seven, giving me a small sample size to serve as a baseline to get started.
- @MinAvgSecsDuration - Threshold for minimum job step duration, in seconds. If set to 300, then we are not concerned with any jobs that have a historical average less than five minutes in duration. This also has implications for how often I will want to poll for long running job steps. If we poll more than 300 seconds apart (say, every 15 minutes), then we may miss an outlier because the code will filter for jobs that are currently running.
- @HistoryStartDate - Start date for historical average you want to evaluate.
- @HistoryEndDate - End date for historical average you want to evaluate. The default values for start and end dates will capture all job history, but you may want to consider using a smaller window, say 90 days.
One result set containing a list of job steps that are currently running and the duration is more than two standard deviations away from the historical average. The “Min Threshold” column represents the average plus two standard deviations (in seconds).
/*============================================= Variables: @MinHistExecutions - Minimum number of job step executions we want to consider @MinAvgSecsDuration - Threshold for minimum job step duration we care to monitor @HistoryStartDate - Start date for historical average @HistoryEndDate - End date for historical average These variables allow for us to control a couple of factors. First we can focus on job steps that are running long enough on average for us to be concerned with (say, 30 seconds or more). Second, we can avoid being alerted by job steps that have run so few times that the average and standard deviations are not quite stable yet. This script leaves these variables at 1.0, but I would advise you alter them upwards after testing. Returns: One result set containing a list of job steps that are currently running and are running longer than two standard deviations away from their historical average. The "Min Threshold" column represents the average plus two standard deviations. note  - comment this line and note  line if you want to report on all history for job steps note  - comment just this line is you want to report on running and non-running job steps =============================================*/ DECLARE @HistoryStartDate datetime ,@HistoryEndDate datetime ,@MinHistExecutions int ,@MinAvgSecsDuration int SET @HistoryStartDate = '19000101' SET @HistoryEndDate = GETDATE() SET @MinHistExecutions = 1.0 SET @MinAvgSecsDuration = 1.0 DECLARE @currently_running_jobs TABLE ( job_id UNIQUEIDENTIFIER NOT NULL ,last_run_date INT NOT NULL ,last_run_time INT NOT NULL ,next_run_date INT NOT NULL ,next_run_time INT NOT NULL ,next_run_schedule_id INT NOT NULL ,requested_to_run INT NOT NULL ,request_source INT NOT NULL ,request_source_id SYSNAME NULL ,running INT NOT NULL ,current_step INT NOT NULL ,current_retry_attempt INT NOT NULL ,job_state INT NOT NULL ) --capture details on jobs INSERT INTO @currently_running_jobs EXECUTE master.dbo.xp_sqlagent_enum_jobs 1,'' ;WITH JobStepsHistData AS ( SELECT job_id, step_id ,date_executed=msdb.dbo.agent_datetime(run_date, run_time) ,secs_duration=run_duration/10000*3600 +run_duration%10000/100*60 +run_duration%100 FROM msdb.dbo.sysjobhistory WHERE run_status = 1 -- Succeeded ) ,JobHistStats AS ( SELECT job_id, step_id ,AvgDuration = AVG(secs_duration*1.) ,AvgPlus2StDev = AVG(secs_duration*1.) + 2*stdevp(secs_duration) FROM JobStepsHistData WHERE date_executed >= DATEADD(day, DATEDIFF(day,'19000101',@HistoryStartDate),'19000101') AND date_executed < DATEADD(day, 1 + DATEDIFF(day,'19000101',@HistoryEndDate),'19000101') GROUP BY job_id, step_id HAVING COUNT(*) >= @MinHistExecutions AND AVG(secs_duration*1.) >= @MinAvgSecsDuration ) -- need to select from the CTE's, and join to msdb for final result SELECT jd.job_id ,j.name AS [JobName] ,sjs.step_id ,sjs.step_name ,MAX(act.start_execution_date) AS [ExecutionDate] ,AvgDuration AS [Historical Avg Duration (secs)] ,AvgPlus2StDev AS [Min Threshhold (secs)] FROM JobStepsHistData jd JOIN JobHistStats jhs on jd.job_id = jhs.job_id AND jd.step_id = jhs.step_id JOIN msdb..sysjobs j on jd.job_id = j.job_id JOIN msdb..sysjobsteps sjs on jd.job_id = sjs.job_id AND jd.step_id = sjs.step_id JOIN @currently_running_jobs crj ON crj.job_id = jd.job_id --see note  above JOIN msdb..sysjobactivity AS act ON act.job_id = jd.job_id AND act.stop_execution_date IS NULL AND act.start_execution_date IS NOT NULL WHERE DATEDIFF(SS, act.start_execution_date, GETDATE()) > AvgPlus2StDev AND crj.job_state = 1 --see note  above GROUP BY jd.job_id, j.name, sjs.step_id, sjs.step_name, AvgDuration, AvgPlus2StDev
Traditional alerts that focus on job duration are not considering the historical average. As a result, operators are notified that a job is running long based upon a fixed amount of time, say 300 seconds. A better method is to do some analysis on the data already stored inside the msdb. By examining the duration of specific job steps you can pinpoint where the bottleneck is happening. This way if an alert is sent you know that action is needed.
- Copy the code and run it against your msdb database.
- Consider running the code on a schedule and alert if any rows are returned.
- Alternatively, you can run report daily to examine job steps that are running long.
- Querying SQL Server Agent Job Information
- Custom job categories to organize your SQL Agent jobs
- All SQL Agent Tips
Last Update: 2017-07-13
About the author
View all my tips