Product Reviews

Precise/Indepth for SQL Server

Last month I passed on the initial briefing information on Precise/Indepth for SQL Server. This month I had a chance to take the software for a spin. As you'll recall, this is a new performance monitoring and optimization solution for SQL Server. Precise worked with Microsoft to hook up a new high-speed, low-impact sampling technology to the SQL Server engine. This allows the new product to collect and analyze very detailed performance information in the short term and over time, to identify both immediate problems and long-term issues. The Precise screen can show you which statements are being executed, which ones take the longest to execute, and how tables and other objects are bring used. You can summarize resource consumption by program, user, or type of application for a business-centric rollup view.

Installation of the software is fairly complex. There are databases to create, services to install, and a client piece to see what's going on. You also need to install a SQL Server hotfix with the patch from Microsoft. This isn't for the faint of heart (it requires replacing sqlserver.exe and running a script to change some system objects), but it worked flawlessly on my test server. Once everything is in place, you can control the server agents from the client, and of course everything is stored in a SQL Server database.

"Everything" is quite a lot. You get statistics on every statement that the server executes, together with graphical information on which resources the statements are waiting on. All of this information is stored in a warehouse database and aggregated to make it easy to spot trends or to determine what was going on at a particular time. All of the information is sliced very finely, so it's easy to track problems to a particular user, query, application -- or even to a particular step in a query plan taking excess locks. The manual is thorough and contains valuable hints on performance troubleshooting, but I was able to point and click my way through what was going on in my test server with no trouble.

With an entry level around $3m000, the target for this product is the Fortune 2000. By making it simple to move from aggregate data to detailed statistics, this will be a welcome addition for any DBA trying to troubleshoot performance issues on a heavily-loaded server.

[This review originally appeared in

About the Author

Mike Gunderloy, MCSE, MCSD, MCDBA, is a former MCP columnist and the author of numerous development books.


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