If you are utilizing a SQL Server, monitoring needs to be an essential part of your database management process. Without keeping a close eye on your Microsoft SQL Server performance, you run the risk of increased performance-related outages and incidents along with potential higher costs. With effective monitoring, you can reduce risk and take the first step toward optimizing performance for the many applications that rely on your data platform.
With an effective monitoring solution in place, you can get a bird’s-eye view of essential data with the ability to dive into key metrics that can indicate performance issues. Baselines, historical data, deep analysis, alerts, and more can help database administrators get to the bottom of performance issues quickly before they significantly impact end users.
Monitoring tools like SolarWinds® SQL Sentry® and Idera SQL Diagnostic Manager are built to help you detect, diagnose, resolve, and prevent SQL Server issues in pursuit of improved performance. But how do these tools compare? In our opinion, both solutions are great options for monitoring and managing SQL Server performance, with customizable dashboards and alerts designed to simplify administrators’ jobs. However, some differences between the two can make one or the other a better fit for an organization. Read on to learn more about the similarities and differences between SolarWinds SQL Sentry vs. Idera Diagnostic Manager and which suits your organization better.
|SolarWinds SQL Sentry||Idera Diagnostic Manager||Notes|
|Top SQL View||Y||Y|
|Query Plan Analysis||Y||Limited||The integration of Plan Explorer in SQL Sentry allows you to visualize the execution plan of the query. Moreover, SQL Sentry also offers provide index analysis, a statistics histogram, query profiling and playback, and the actual plan recasting.|
|Deadlock Analysis & Visualization||Y||Limited||SQL Sentry can can visualise the deadlock and playback the steps that caused it|
|Storage Performance||Y||Limited||SQL Sentry has patented storage performance visualization.|
|AlwaysOn Monitoring||Y||Limited||SQL Sentry provides overview diagrams with complete topology, detailed-level grid view, and historical charting.|
|Customizable Windows event log monitoring||Y||N|
|Predictive Analytics||Y||Limited||SQL Sentry provides predictive analysis through its patented storage forecasting (powered by machine learning)|
|Monitoring Support||Y||Limited||SQL Sentry also supported the monitoring of Azure Synapse, and SQL Server Analysis Services (In order to monitor SSAS with Idera you need to purchase an additonal product to Idera DM).|
|Index defragmentation||Y||N||Provided by Idera in a sepeate product|
|Enterprise Scalability||Y||N||SQL Sentry can monitor hundreds of database targets with one installation, Idera DM requires multiple separate installs to scale as highly.|
|Live query profile and playback||Y||N||Achieved with the built-in Plan Explorer|
|SQL Agent Job Monitoring||Y||Y|
SQL Sentry is a database performance monitoring solution designed to deliver deep visibility and rapid root cause analysis across the Microsoft SQL Server, no matter whether your SQL Server environment is physical, virtual, or cloud-based. SQL Sentry offers quick views of both historical and real-time events and performance data, as well as features like query history, execution plan diagrams, and more. All of this is designed to make identifying and resolving problems quickly easy.
The most significant advantage of SQL Sentry is the amount of data it makes available right at your fingertips. Without simple access to the data you need to manage your SQL Server successfully, you will find yourself wasting precious time searching for the information you need (potentially in all the wrong places) instead of addressing your performance problems. SQL Sentry is designed to avoid that problem by delivering accurate, detailed, and actionable performance data so you can quickly identify and address any SQL Server database problems. By enabling DataOps observability, SQL Sentry gives you the information you need to monitor, diagnose, and optimize your database environment effectively.
In addition to its AlwaysOn monitoring and deadlock analysis capabilities, which are discussed in greater detail in the features comparison, the tool makes it easier to perform several critical tasks. These include finding and fixing high-impact SQL queries, planning more effective index maintenance and management strategies, and quickly identifying the root causes of SQL Server blocking. The tool also comes with advanced, customizable, proactive alerting to accelerate incident response and remediation without risking alert fatigue for database administrators.
Other key features of SolarWinds SQL Sentry include:
- At-a-glance views of your database environment health
- Tools to help you manage scheduled events and identify potential resource contention using an Outlook-style calendar
- Predictive analytics that power storage forecasting
- Insights that help you identify contributing problems in the operating system and virtual environments
The Idera SQL Diagnostic Manager for SQL Server is an agentless solution that supports SQL Server performance monitoring, diagnostics, and reporting. It also includes proactive alerting whenever an issue with performance, health, or availability is detected. What makes SQL Diagnostic Manager stand out from some of the other products on the market is its diversity. It can monitor databases in virtual and physical environments and report on a wide range of metrics, including memory, CPU, network usage, and hard disk space and usage.
In addition to offering summaries of top issues and alerts, SQL diagnostic manager offers expert recommendations to help you optimize database performance. Plus, the software comes with built-in SQL Server monitoring alerts that are customized for your industry. You can choose from more than 100 predefined alert settings that are based on industry best practices so you can be confident you’re always in the know when a performance issue is detected.
SQL Diagnostic Manager is also popular for SQL Server management thanks to its ease of use and query visualizations. It has both an intuitive web-based interface and a mobile app, though not all of the software’s functions are available on the mobile app. However, some of the most significant functions, like starting and stopping jobs, running queries, and killing processes, are available through your mobile phone.
Generally speaking, we find that Idera SQL Diagnostic Manager is a great way to start managing SQL Server with a good mix of metrics and a simple interface. However, it’s worth noting that the software won’t deliver the same level of depth and visibility into performance issues as some other options. Still, it’s a great way to hit the ground running.
SolarWinds vs. Idera Features Comparison
SQL Server has two architectures for Availability Groups, one of which AlwaysOn availability groups (AGs), delivers enterprise-level disaster recovery, high availability, and read-scale balancing, acting as an alternative to database mirroring. Availability groups support failover environments for individual sets of user databases that may failover together. Each availability group comprises a set of read-write primary databases and anywhere from one to eight sets of secondary databases that correspond to the primary ones. AlwaysOn monitoring in either SolarWinds SQL Sentry or Idera SQL Diagnostic Manager is designed to help you manage and monitor important information related to your SQL Server AlwaysOn availability groups.
While both tools offer AlwaysOn monitoring in some form, the Idera offering is more limited than the SolarWinds alternative. As one of the solution’s central features, the SQL Sentry AlwaysOn monitoring is designed to dramatically increase the manageability and visibility of AlwaysOn availability groups. The tool offers a visual overview of data movement and topography, plus in-depth and customizable alerting capabilities. That makes managing and organizing your AlwaysOn assets easier to suit your needs best. It also makes it easier to track key metrics tied to the availability groups and see how your AGs and failover cluster instances are distributed across your organization’s Windows Server Failover Cluster nodes. The visibility offered by SQL Sentry even makes it easy to find areas in your environment where bottlenecks may exist at a glance. The tool’s historical views make it easy to identify areas where issues may have arisen, no matter the date range. Plus, with SQL Sentry, you can configure actions, including alerts, for essential failover or replica health events so you never miss a thing.
While Idera SQL Diagnostic Manager also delivers AlwaysOn monitoring through its AlwaysOn Availability Groups view, which lets you monitor AGs and availability databases and replicas, its offering is more limited than SQL Sentry. With the Idera tool, you can access charts to better understand the transfer rates and queue size of different groups. Like SQL Sentry, the Idera solution offers a History Browser that lets you go back and view the state of your system at a given point in time. Looking toward the future, SQL Diagnostic Manager allows you enable metric alerts so you’re informed as soon as specific AlwaysOn availability group metrics are beyond their established baseline thresholds.
Deadlock analysis is essential when it comes to maintaining SQL Server performance. To prevent data inconsistency and loss for concurrent operations, relational databases require locking. The problem is that the locking process is complex and can often interfere with database performance, especially when deadlocks occur. These deadlocks result from two or more concurrent tasks blocking each other by having a “lock” on one or more of the resources needed to complete the task.
As with AlwaysOn Monitoring, both SolarWinds SQL Sentry and Idera SQL Diagnostic Manager include features designed to help quickly resolve these issues through deadlock analysis. SQL Sentry offers a powerful deadlock graph that makes it easy to analyze and resolve the deadlock, helping you identify the root cause and even providing a deadlock playback feature that makes it easier for database administrators to understand what events led to the deadlock. DBAs can watch the deadlock diagram cycle through these events and adjust the playback by fast forwarding, rewinding, zooming in or out, changing playback speed, and more.
The tool also offers detailed metrics, which can be customized, that make it easier to resolve these server deadlock issues and reduce the time it takes to bring your database back to peak performance. These metrics are so detailed that in the lock details area of SQL Sentry, you can break down database deadlock by specific lock types, including both the owners and waiters that are involved in each lock.
The Idera solution also offers deadlock analysis, but, as with AlwaysOn monitoring, the capabilities are more limited than those of SQL Sentry. While you can view both real-time and historical session blocks, locks, and deadlocks to help with problem identification and resolution, the tool lacks the detailed graphics and playback features available in SQL Sentry. However, it can still be an effective way to resolve deadlock issues. You can track performance for deadlocks using metrics and alerts specifically dedicated to them. You can also use the tool’s mobile console to display, diagnose, and resolve deadlocks on the go.
Choosing SolarWinds SQL Sentry vs Idera Diagnostic Manager
Both SolarWinds SQL Sentry and Idera SQL Diagnostic Manager are great options for database administrators looking to improve their SQL Server performance. Both tools make it easier to quickly identify, diagnose, and resolve issues that can seriously impact performance. Each offers AlwaysOn Monitoring and deadlock analysis, two of the most important features for maintaining optimal SQL Server performance. While we find SQL Sentry offers a more complete solution, the Idera tool is also an excellent option for SQL Server management, particularly for those just starting out.