Application Performance Monitoring with DBA Support Services from AimBetter

By:   |   Updated: 2021-01-25   |   Comments   |   Related: More > Performance Tuning


Problem

We need more than just an application performance management solution; I need a solution that provides assistance to my entire IT team to help them address the performance issues where they happen. With the size of our environment, we no longer have the time to check each server daily.  With servers on-premises and in the cloud, we need a single tool to help isolate and prioritize the issues, as well as services to help address issues in a rapid manner. My IT team is talented, but spread thin. We can use assistance from a solution that monitors each layer of the application as well as provide a helping hand when needed. How can this be achieved?

Solution

AimBetter offers an innovative end-to-end application performance monitoring solution to rapidly resolve issues that is the intersection between:

  1. Performance monitoring at each layer of the application
  2. Support services for your Network Operations Center (NOC) Team, especially the DBAs to rapidly identify and correct performance issues impacting the organization

In one tool, AimBetter delivers:

  • End to End Application Performance Monitoring
  • SQL Server Database Performance Management
  • Performance, Change Control and Daily Operations
  • Support Services to compliment your NOC Team

AimBetter addresses issues at these layers:

  • Application Code
  • Application Server and IIS
  • Server \ Host \ Terminal Server
  • SQL Server and Oracle Databases (Current in Beta)
  • Storage
  • Network
  • Operations

AimBetter is a fully cloud based product with a simple installation on the monitored hosts.  This enables AimBetter to monitor resources on premises and in the cloud (i.e. Azure, AWS and RDS) without any additional servers or storage at the client site. This means no additional Windows or SQL Server licensing is needed, resulting in licensing cost savings and expediting the time to start resolving issues.

AimBetter includes a tremendous amount of functionality. Let’s dive into some key areas to see AimBetter in action.

Enterprise Prioritization

When starting AimBetter, the Home screen loads showing is a prioritized listing of issues beneficial to a NOC to address daily operations across each application layer.  Regardless of the type (i.e., SQL Server, IIS, Anti-Virus Package, Query Plan Change, T-SQL application exceptions, etc.), the issue bubbles up as impacting the environment on this single pane of glass for numerous domains and even different companies.  This is an unbiased view enabling your team to focus on the issues impacting the organization the most.

AimBetter’s Home screen is beneficial for a NOC to divide and conquer approach to address performance and operational issues impacting the organization. The image below is for data from the last hour, but the interface can be changed to the last day, week or a custom time period.  From this priority order listing of issues, you can begin drilling into each issue for more information to work towards resolution. This prevents the need for daily server checks because the highest priority issues are presented in a single screen for significant time savings.

AimBetter Home Screen

When drilling into a single server, the corresponding performance and operational alerts are listed: criticality of the issue, start and end time with the duration and a description of the issue with an explanation if more information is needed.

AimBetter Home Screen Alerts

Not sure how to address a specific alert or error? This is where the AimBetter support services come into play. As a part of the offering, you can reach out to the AimBetter team to get guidance on how to address performance and operational alerts by opening a ticket. AimBetter also sends a daily email with the most pressing issues to help focus the team.

End to End Application Performance

AimBetter’s Performance interface is a prioritized list of hosts across numerous domains and even companies.  Each host includes numerous charts with a tremendous amount of information to simplify your understanding of both on premises and cloud deployments with the ability to sort, filter and compare metrics.  From this interface you can drill into performance related issues for the host (Windows, Azure SQL Databases, Azure Managed Instances and AWS) and application (SQL Server and IIS).

Windows and SQL Server

For Windows and SQL Server, AimBetter includes a dozen tabs:

  • Hosts
  • Network
  • Disk
  • CPU
  • Paging
  • Services
  • Processes
  • Images
  • Analyze
  • SQL Server
  • Database
  • Wait Stats

Each of these interfaces uniquely uncover meaningful performance metrics with informative graphs to troubleshoot issues you are experiencing over the last hour, day or week.

AimBetter Performance Console

Azure SQL Database

As a cloud example, Azure SQL Database includes counters related to the Service, Instance, Database and Wait Stats.  Based on the platform, applicable counters are displayed with much of the same functionality as an on-premises deployment, but also gives insight into performance usage to reduce cloud costs.

AimBetter Azure Database Monitoring

Below is an expanded view of the CPU usage graph to demonstrate that it is possible to overlay counters to see how performance differs between two days.

AimBetter CPU Usage

Beyond basic CPU usage, AimBetter uniquely provides insight into how the CPU is being used to understand hardware vs. computing interrupts to truly discover where CPU performance issues occur and correlate this data with hundreds of additional counters.

Identify Poor SQL Server Query Performance

Diving deeper into performance, AimBetter includes real time, historical and overall analysis of queries in the environment to help simplify an otherwise difficult and time-consuming process.  AimBetter does so by providing a tremendous amount of information in a single interface to get a complete picture of the situation to make accurate query tuning decisions.

Real Time Query Analysis

AimBetter enables you to drill into real time issues with the Live tab to see the problematic T-SQL code currently running. This interface includes metrics such as CPU, Wait Stats, Client Machine, TempDB usage and Application Name.  The Application Name is helpful when troubleshooting because it is actual screen name being passed, not the generic application name.  All of this functionality is beneficial when a query or report is suspected of impacting performance, because of the correlation, and consolidated information is presented in a single interface for significant time savings.

AimBetter Historical Queries

Query Analysis

The QAnalyze interface in AimBetter enables you to find the proverbial “needle in a haystack” across all of the servers managed on premises and in the cloud.  This prioritized listing enables research and correction for problematic queries based on:

  • Max Query CPU
  • Query CPU Usage Percentage
  • Execution Count
  • Average Duration
  • Average Disk IO
  • Average Cache Usage
AimBetter QAnalyze

Drilling into a query displays the detailed performance metrics, detailed query plan and associated detailed performance metrics to determine which statements within the code need to be reviewed, corrected and tested.

AimBetter QAnalyze Details

Deeper Performance and Operational Analysis

Capturing a SQL Server performance problem in real time is difficult.  Most of the time issues are intermittent and it is hard to capture the data for a short query that runs often.

Also, seeing that metrics are high in your environment is helpful, but without the context of how the code has performed on other days, it is difficult to determine if this is an anomaly, trend or issue.

This is where AimBetter Observer comes into play to understand trends in performance and compare metrics between time periods. Observer includes the following interfaces:

  • Overview
  • Event Log
  • Database Backups
  • DeadlocksChange Tracking

Overview

The Overview tab is the launching pad to understand historical activity and a major productivity boost for IT Teams. They can drill into 1000’s of categories and activities (SQL and OS), compare performance between two time periods, and resolve exceptions and security issues within seconds.

AimBetter Observer Overview

Event Log

AimBetter’s Event Log interface prioritizes event log data that has been collected on a per server and per category basis.  The data is then displayed per hour to understand when the events occur to begin troubleshooting.

AimBetter Observer Event Log

Once again, data can be compared between specific days to understand typical data vs. trends vs. anomalies.

AimBetter Observer Comparison

Seeing an event that does not make sense?  This is where the AimBetter DBA Support Services are beneficial – to get a better understanding of the situation then build a plan to resolve the issue.  It all starts with opening a ticket if you need more guidance to resolve an issue.

Deadlock

SQL Server deadlocks can plague application performance.  Often times they are difficult to diagnose and time consuming to resolve.  AimBetter captures the SQL Server database deadlocks, breaks down the deadlock scenario and includes all of the supporting information (object, login, database, host, etc.) to implement code changes to prevent this issue in the future.

AimBetter Observer Deadlocks

Change Tracking

Ever had a conversation like this?

Manager - “How come performance is so bad this morning?  What changed overnight?”

DBA - “Nothing has changed in our environment!”

Manager - “Then why did performance degrade today?”

The old adage about “what changed last is probably the culprit” is generally a viable assertion.  This is where AimBetter’s Change Tracking is very valuable.  This interface tracks what has changed in your environment from a Host, Service, Application, Database, etc. perspective.  The changes are recorded on a per host basis which can be dissected for more details to correlate your performance degradation with changes in your environment to provide a resolution.

AimBetter Observer Change Tracking

IIS and SQL Server Connections

With AimBetter’s Web and Connections interfaces, you can get a sense of the user experience through the eyes of the user community.  How long did it really take for a screen to load?  It might have felt like forever, but it was only three seconds.

The Web interface is an intelligence IIS log for both live and historical data including exceptions. Data is organized by the initiating IP address with the start time, duration, status, web site, etc. along with the corresponding code and parameters passed on the connection. This enables a NOC Team to determine if there are issues with a specific web site and/or network connectivity to ensure an acceptable user experience.

AimBetter Web Connections History Details

The AimBetter Connections tab includes tracking of files, folders and business metrics such as orders. As an example, for an eCommerce company, if orders are not being generated then the team would be alerted to the situation.

Getting Started with AimBetter

We have just scratched the surface on AimBetter’s end to end application performance monitoring capabilities.  There is a tremendous amount of unique functionality from both a performance and operational perspective to help all of the members of your NOC, especially the DBA Team.

Beyond the product offerings demonstrated, AimBetter’s services include daily, weekly and monthly emails as well as alerts to help focus the team.  The Support Services help your team address needs where they could use additional guidance when additional expertise is needed.

Both the product and services are included in the monthly or yearly subscription cost, with prices starting at $300 per instance on a monthly basis with yearlong and volume discount options.

Now it is your time to take action. Use the form on the right to register for your free trial edition of AimBetter to see the solution in action for your environment.

Next Steps


Last Updated: 2021-01-25


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About the author
MSSQLTips author Jeremy Kadlec Jeremy Kadlec is the Co-Founder, Editor and Author at MSSQLTips.com, CTO @ Edgewood Solutions and a six time SQL Server MVP.

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