Manage an enterprise of one, hundreds, or even
thousands of SQL Servers from one central location
Every DBA has heard of performance monitoring, of course, where you can watch memory consumption rise and fall, and so on. What we’re doing isn’t that…it’s environment monitoring.
Environment monitoring covers every aspect of database administration that we’ve run across in our 20 years as DBAs, 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.
See the Minion Enterprise Features List for more detail.
What can you do with all of this? Well, for starters:
- Health Checks, Audits, and Benchmarks – Our upcoming HealthCheck module lets you perform standard benchmarks and internal audits for all instances in your environment with a single stored procedure call.
- Central Management – Update all your backup routines, on all servers, with a single UPDATE statement. Clone user permissions from production to QA with one command. Or change sp_configure settings on multiple instances, again, with a single statement.
- Alerting – Consolidated, actionable alerts tell you what you need to know, from security alerts (someone new made it into sysadmin!) to disk capacity alerts, to error log search terms.
- Reporting – Use the built-in reports, or create your own, to deliver a massive amount of understanding into your systems.
- Insight – Research any question at all, across one or more servers, with standard T-SQL. Which server has the largest number of heaps? Which has the most members of sysadmin? It’s a query away.
The Value of Central Management
Minion Enterprise was designed by database administrators (DBAs) specifically to address the issues that waste the most time and cause the most problems. Minion shrinks dozens of those one-at-a-time tasks down to a central process. And, it does this without the usual overhead of monitoring software. When you install Minion Enterprise, it automatically begins gathering data from instances across your enterprise. That single repository of data allows you to centrally audit, alert, report, and investigate your entire environment. Even better, it opens up a new world of central management: audit SQL and AD security, clone user permissions across servers, standardize and enforce SQL Server settings, automate error log searches, and so very much more.
In our client installations, ME has accomplished wonders. Here are a few of them:
- Allowed a single DBA to manage over 900 servers.
- Produced a high level and detailed database space projection for the following two years.
- Standardized file growth rates across the enterprise, saving hundreds of GB of disk space.
- All but eliminated space management issues, saving 8 hours of DBA work per week.
- Aided the passing of a security audit in a few minutes, instead of a few days, due to the Active Directory group expansion feature.
- Audited server group membership from a central location.
- Determined which accounts didn’t meet AD security policy, and which accounts have weak passwords.
- Performed rapid impact analysis on SQL Server service account password changes; this determined which servers would be impacted by the change.
- Reviewed which data and log files reside on the same drive, using a single query for the entire enterprise.
- Reported on replication latency, to easily tell across the entire enterprise which replication scenarios were lagging behind or failing.
- Accurately proved how much additional disk space was required, for SAN requests.
|Central Server List||Keep a central list of SQL Server servers, and which applications they belong to. Beneficial for tracking your enterprise; auditing; and onboarding new staff.|
|Central Configuration||Central configuration and management for every aspect of Minion Enterprise. Make your changes inside Minion, and Minion then pushes your changes to all the servers.|
|Enforced Configuration||Enforce server-level (sp_configure) configuration values. The policies are set centrally, so if someone then makes a change to the servers, Minion will change it back to conform to policy.|
|Active Directory Expansion||Expand AD groups and subgroups to determine who has access to SQL Server, and how. And, research single usersâ€™ permissions to SQL Server across the entire enterprise.|
|Consolidated Alerts||Centralized, consolidated alerts for all servers. This prevents â€œalert stormingâ€ support personnel, so alerts really mean something again.|
|Server Grouping||Group servers by applications. This allows you to perform actions against only that applicationâ€™s servers (or, only that applicationâ€™s production servers, etc.).|
|Service Down Alerting||Alert on services that have come down.|
|Search Error Logs||Search SQL Server and SQL Agent error logs.|
|Replication Tracking||Track replication latency, and alert when it passes your custom threshold.|
|Alert on Changes||Query and alert on any database property change.|
|DB Create/Drop history||Retain history of database creation and deletion.|
|Routine DB Object Scripting||Script out all database objects regularly in order to retrieve schema changes.,For example, if someone makes a change to a stored procedure on the wrong server, you have a record of the script before the change.|
|Report||Centralized file growth rate reporting.|
|Configure||Centralized file growth rate standardization.|
|Enforce||Centralized file growth rate enforcement.|
|CheckDB||Run DBCC CheckDB with fully logged history.|
|Report||Centralized reporting of CheckDB errors|
|Alert on Missing Run||Centralized alerting of missing CheckDB runs for all databases. This is when a DB hasnâ€™t had a CheckDB run xDays.|
|Manage Backups||Centrally manage backups, configure options, etc.|
|Flexible Include/Exclude||Include or exclude databases from backup scenarios, based on regular expressions.|
|Order backups||Specify order to backup databases.|
|Alert||Centralized alerting on failed and missing backups, based off of your custom thresholds for each server and/or database.|
|Report||Centralized reporting on backup statistics, like backup duration, frequency, size, and more.|
|Delete Old Backups||Automatically delete old backup files with individual DB thresholds.|
|Save Old Backups||Set backups to archive mode to remove them from normal delete rotation.|
|Configure||Configure and manage centrally.|
|Keep Script History||Retain maintenance scripts in the log.|
|Collect Data||Collect disk space usage for all SQL Servers.|
|Track History||Track disk space use history.|
|Project Space Usage||Project disk space usage for all SQL servers.|
|Centralized SID Server||Keep a central list of SQL Server users, and their assigned ID number (â€œSIDâ€).|
|User Reporting||Centralized user account reporting.|
|Windows Group Expansion||Find which windows groups users belong to.|
System requirements for the repository are:
A default instance of SQL Server 2012 or above. (Managed instances can be SQL Server 2005 or above.)
The SQL Agent service account requires sysadmin rights on all managed SQL Server instances, and access to run system-level WMI queries on all managed servers (which can be accomplished by granting the SQL Agent service account local administrator rights on each managed server). Note: Check your company's security policies for compliance.
The sp_configure setting xp_cmdshell must be enabled*.
PowerShell 2.0 or above; execution policy set to RemoteSigned.
* xp_cmdshell can be turned on and off with the database PreCode / PostCode options, to help comply with security policies.
The versions of SQL Server that ME can manage depends on what itâ€™s doing. Most functions can downgrade to SQL Server 2000, but there are some features in later versions that simply don't exist in SQL Server 2000. So whenever possible, ME will work all the way down to SQL Server 2000.
In large environments, this is a big topic. There are common ways that shops can get around the cross-domain limitation. It starts with setting up at least a one-way trust between the two domains. There's no way around this. ME has to work within the Windows security model and the account must have rights on the managed server. Therefore, a single firewall rule to allow traffic from the ME server to the managed member servers is the most common method for handling this issue. You may also setup a separate ME server in each domain if other security arrangements can't be made.
Unlike other repository products, the ME repository is free. Licensing is only for each managed instance of SQL Server or for each Windows server you manage.
In short, GUIs slow you down. ME was specifically designed to be as fast as possible and to help you manage your entire environment. And you simply can't do stuff like that in a GUI. Developing a GUI for ME would greatly slow you down.
Nothing. ME doesn't install any objects on managed servers.
Minion Enterprise (ME) is an enterprise manage product meant to provide great functionality and vision into thousands of servers. It eases management and gives you great power in reporting, standardizing, and auditing your environment. Minion Enterprise includes and centralizes all of the other Enterprise modules:
- Minion Core Enterprise
- Minion Security Enterprise
- Minion Space Enterprise
- Minion Backup Enterprise
- Minion Reindex Enterprise
- Minion CheckDB Enterprise
In addition, we have three free standalone modules , these don't have a central repository:
- Minion Backup (MB) is a free, comprehensive, and flexible backup solution.
- Minion Reindex (MR) is also a free and comprehensive solution: for index maintenance.
- Minion CheckDB (MC) is our third free and comprehensive solution, this time for database integrity.
Yes. You can most certainly develop your own processes and fold them into our repository. You can write your own alerts, views, stored procedures, etc and look at the data and report on it any way you like. And if you want to write your own collections, then you're welcome to do so.
Yes. We charge our regular consulting rates for writing custom modules.
"I’m enjoying all the configuration data that gets logged by ME. It is great for spotting changes that get introduced by a couple of the other DBAs from time to time. The drivespace data collected is also very handy for keeping an eye on growth, etc."
“MinionEnterprise is their management product and it’s very good. Jen and Sean have a lot of years of SQL administration under their belts and look at solving the problem of maintenance with an eye towards flexibility.”