I Didn't Know It Could Do That! - Using Notes

Justin Randall

Published On: December 30, 2014

Categories: Event Calendar, Performance Analysis 0

A Common Scenario

Imagine your cell phone waking you at 2 am with an urgent email warning you that a critical overnight SQL Server Agent job has failed. As you slip out of bed and stumble to your laptop, you vaguely recall this event happening once before, several months ago.

With each step your brain fog is clearing and you are fairly certain the previous occurrence was handled by one of your coworkers. Did you read about it in her after-action email, or was it documented in SharePoint, or maybe only discussed in a team meeting?

And so you are faced with a decision before you even lay hands on a keyboard. Do you take the time to search for possibly non-existent documentation or just dig in and start troubleshooting from scratch?

SQL Sentry’s Solution

In a shop using SQL Sentry software, that first decision is eliminated by using the product’s Notes feature. Common uses for notes include:

  • tracking changes to your SQL Server instances, SQL Agent jobs, etc.,
  • documenting steps to resolve issues, as well as a complete resolution history,
  • providing emergency contact information,
  • maintaining key Windows, SQL Server instance and database configuration information such as FQDNs, Service Account names, IP addresses, sp_configuration output, location, virtual host, HA and DR configuration (cluster, AG, mirroring, replication, etc.), and anything else that might be important to know while troubleshooting and resolving issues.

Our User Guide explains the Notes interface and how to access it, so I won’t duplicate that information here. However I will emphasize that Notes can be attached to a wide range of objects in SQL Sentry. The list currently includes:

  • SQL Server Instances
  • Databases
  • SQL Agent Jobs
  • SQL Agent Logs
  • SQL Agent Alerts
  • Windows Connections
  • Task Scheduler Tasks
  • Windows Event Logs
  • Custom Condition Events logs

Leveraging Notes

Three key advantages to including notes in your monitoring solution are:

  • the information is readily available in the same product/interface you are using to troubleshoot and resolve issues
  • all users have access to that information
  • the information can be automatically included in notifications when an alert is fired.

So in our original scenario, let’s assume the notification was generated from the SQL Server Agent Job: Failure condition defined in SQL Sentry. Let’s further assume your co-worker added a note while clearing the failed instance once the previous failure was resolved, and checked “Include in Notifications” before saving the note.  The email you received for the current failure might look something like this:

Sample email for a job failure with notes includedSample email for a job failure (sensitive parts redacted)

While this is a trivial example, you can clearly see how Notes can be a key communication and documentation tool that enhances the effectiveness of your team.

Finally, as your Notes library grows you will find the Notes Log list to be a handy tool for searching, editing and managing all the notes in your SQL Sentry deployment. You can learn more about this feature in the Notes Log List section of the Actions Log Actions Log page in our User Guide.

If you're not already using SQL Sentry software, you can download a trial version.

Justin (@jh_randall) leads our Professional Services Organization with the perspective of nearly 30 years of IT experience. Professional Services provides customers with mentoring, consulting and training services focused on configuring and tuning SentryOne software, and SQL Server performance troubleshooting and optimization. Justin's blog focuses on helping our users become highly valued DBAs who use our software to prevent and solve real-world SQL Server problems while making positive contributions to their organization's success.