My friend Brent Ozar, who is a top-notch SQL Server Professional, mentioned on his blog (http://www.brentozar.com/archive/2007/04/sql-server-health-check/comment-page-1/#comment-17520) that he brought in Microsoft Support to do a “Health Check”. There were some questions about what this actually entails – so I thought I would post that description here.

A SQL Server Health Check from Microsoft is an offering provided through our support and consulting branches. If you’ve purchased a Premier support agreement, you can use the hours you pay for to have someone come out and check out your systems using two basic vectors: standard best practices, and the best practices for your environment. Let me explain that a little further.

Microsoft Consulting Services (MCS) has an advanced set of tools and techniques to reach deep into your systems to evaluate them against a set of criteria that we establish for the best performance, safety and reliability for SQL Server. But your SQL Server Instances will be different than someone else’s, so the consultant will also spend some time in an interview with various teams to find out how you’re using the system. They’ll consult with experts in that area back at Redmond, and at the end of the engagement you get what I feel is the most valuable part of the exercise – the report. The report shows what was done, how it was done, what the findings are and what recommendations the consultant makes. It’s a thing of beauty.

You don’t have to have a Premier agreement to get a SQL Server Health Check, and companies other than Microsoft have versions of this as well. The prices vary, so if you want a Microsoft person then contact your local Microsoft office and ask for the Consulting Manager for your area. They will get you to the right person and you can work out the costs from there. If you take a hard look, most of the time the cost is well justified.

On a related note, I think it’s fantastic that Brent has the foresight to bring in “another pair of eyes” on his systems. Brent is actually in the program to gain a SQL Server “Master” certification – something only a few people in the world have. He works for a software development firm that creates fantastic products for – wait for it – SQL Server! He could evaluate his own systems, and of course he does. But he realizes that there’s always something more to learn, and someone out there may know one more little detail that he doesn’t. This is the mark of a very bright person.