How to use Minion Enterprise for the first time

This is the first article in a multi-part series to guide you through your first weeks in Minion Enterprise.

Minion Enterprise lets you monitor and investigate your SQL Server environment for security and stability. It’s a big system, though, and it’s easy to get lost.

This is the first article in a multi-part series to guide you through your first weeks in Minion Enterprise. Topics we’ll cover include:

  • Getting around ME
  • Configure Error Log Search Terms
  • Set Roles, Applications, Application Owners, and/or Environments
  • Configure Alerting
  • Handle Email Alerts
  • Check High-Level Health
  • Check the Security of the servers
  • Research Index health
  • Research (and set alerts for) sp_configure settings
  • Get an inventory of clusters and Availability Groups

And of course, more. For today, let’s start with the philosophy of environment monitoring, and getting your servers registered in ME.

Monitor the environment

The database industry is familiar with performance monitoring, which tracks performance-related metrics. But the health of a server depends on so much more.

  • Are the disks filling up?
  • What service packs are installed?
  • Who has permissions to what servers and objects?
  • How well are the databases indexed?
  • Are backups and maintenance running well?
  • Have sp_configure settings been changed from the standard?

Environment monitoring covers as many aspects of database administration as possible, including:

  • Server Environment Data – Disk space utilization alerts, anyone? How about OS patch levels and service properties?
  • SQL Server Environment Data – Everything from sp_configure values to error log alerting.
  • Database Information – DB properties, files, scripts, space used, index stats, and more.
  • Maintenance and Backups – When did backups happen last? How about DBCC CheckDB?
  • Security and Encryption – All logins, users, Active Directory information (including group expansion!), role membership, and scripted permissions.
  • Replication Latency – We’ve got replication latency data for all subscriptions.
  • Availability Groups – ME gathers information on AG replicas, listeners, groups, status, and read-only routing lists.

First things first: Register servers in Minion Enterprise

You can install and configure Minion Enterprise in about five minutes. Just be sure your server meets the requirements outlined in the Quick Start Guide!

Minion Enterprise references the dbo.Servers table to determine what SQL Server instances it should be managing. So the first step after installation is to “register”, or insert, instances to that table!

Because this is a table, and we’re all DBAs, there are a number of ways you can insert servers to the table:

  • Import the list from a CSV or Excel spreadsheet.
  • Import the list from another table.
  • Enter instances using INSERT statements.
  • And so on.

Whichever way works for you, you’ll need to insert to dbo.Servers with the following information:

  • ServerName – of course.
  • Port – this must be NULL for the default port (1433), or the port number for a nonstandard port (anything other than 1433).
  • ServiceLevel – Determine whether your server ranks as “Gold”, “Silver”, or “Bronze”. This service level determines what level of service (e.g., how often collections and alerts are performed) each server receives.
  • IsSQL – This should be 1 for SQL Server instances, and 0 for non-SQL servers. Servers without SQL still get the benefit of drive space monitoring and more!
  • IsActive – This should be 1 for any server you want collections and alerts to run on, and 0 for any other server. I personally keep inactive servers in the list specifically just to keep a master list of servers!

Next time we’ll talk more about what you can do with Minion Enterprise. In the meantime, feel free to look around the online documentation!

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