The first exciting news I have in the operations and manageability space is that there is now a management pack for monitoring SQL Azure based databases available as a public customer technology preview (CTP)! You can find the bits on the download center here: http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?id=28951

If you haven't heard of SQL Azure definitely go to http://www.windowsazure.com/en-us/home/tour/sql-azure/ and check it out.  SQL Azure is Microsoft's cloud based database offering.  It allows you to deploy database applications to the cloud so that you only pay for the database infrastructure you need when you need it.  A lot of hassles of building highly reliable SQL Server instances are taken care of for you (buying and setting up hardware, configuring replication, for example).  You get to focus on developing and deploying your application, and focus less on the hardware and low level software infrastructure.

However, it is still up to you to monitor your database applications in the cloud, and that is what the SQL Azure management pack can help you do.  The management pack plugs into Microsoft's premier monitoring product, System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2.

This management pack has a great set of features which include:

  • Monitoring disk space usage compared to your current quota.  Now you can avoid running out space and crashing your database app.
  • Monitoring network utilization so that your billing isn't a huge surprise when you start using more network bandwidth in your app.
  • Monitoring how many sessions (how many user connections) are occurring.
  • Monitoring CPU, memory, and IO usage.
  • Monitoring how many locks are being acquired during the operation of your database application.
  • Monitoring how much log space is being used.
  • Monitoring how long your transactions execute.
  • Monitoring how many databases are associated with each SQL Azure server.
  • Monitoring the availability of your SQL Azure server and the databases hosted on the server.  Don't wait to find out from your customers!

You can view graphs showing you the trends of the above numerical data over time.  You can also create overrides which enable System Center Operations Manager to raise alerts when the numbers exceed certain thresholds for those numbers.  You get a great UI showing you the health of the servers you are monitoring and the databases you are monitoring.

Even cooler, with a "single pane of glass" you can monitor both cloud based SQL Server assets using this management pack, and with the regular SQL Server management pack you can monitor your on-premise database server assets.  The vision of hybrid cloud/on-premesis monitoring is here today!

Make sure you read through the deployment guide that comes with the management pack.  It has important information about how to successfully install and use the software.  The SQL Azure management pack is quite unique, so don't assume it will install the same way as other management packs you are used to, even other SQL Server management packs.

I'd love to get your feedback on this CTP and I hope it helps you keep better tabs on all of your SQL Azure assets!