Juggling SQL Agent Jobs in a Complex Environment

Microsoft’s SQL Server includes many features that make it an attractive solution for organizations needing a relational database management system (RDBMS). Its feature set and functionality are two of the reasons for the growing popularity of SQL Server for business implementations. DBAs should be prepared to work with instances of SQL Server if they are employed in a shop with multiple database platforms.

One of the facilities that an SQL Server DBA needs to be familiar with is the SQL Server Agent. The SQL Agent is a background tool that runs as a Windows service. It enables a database team to more easily handle a variety of tasks including job scheduling. SQL Agent jobs can be used to perform a wide variety of functions and form an integral part of an SQL Server environment.

SQL Server Agent

There are several components that the SQL Server Agent uses to define the characteristics and details of tasks performed on an SQL Server. The agent can run jobs on a scheduled basis, on-demand, or in response to specific events. Here are the elements that are used by SQL Server Agent as it performs its functions.

Jobs are a specified series of actions that SQL Server Agent performs. They are used to define repeatable administrative tasks that can be monitored for success or failure. Jobs can be comprised of multiple steps, each of which runs in its own security context.

Schedules specify when a job runs. They are flexible entities, as each schedule can run multiple jobs and more than one schedule can refer to the same SQL Agent job. A schedule can run jobs in various situations such as:

  • When SQL Server Agents starts;
  • At a specified date and time;
  • On a recurring schedule;
  • When CPU utilization reaches a preset threshold.

Alerts are automatic responses to specific SQL Server events, performance conditions or Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) events. When an alert is triggered it can kick off a job or notify one or more operators.

Operators define the contact information for personnel responsible for an instance of SQL Server. They can be configured to send alerts to pertinent individuals using email, pagers, or the Windows Messenger net send facility.

Using the SQL Server Agent allows DBAs to automate many tasks and eliminate much of the manual intervention required to perform routine maintenance of an SQL Server environment.

Managing Your SQL Server Agent Jobs

With a single SQL Server instance, monitoring and managing jobs should not be an overly complicated task and should fall well within the range of the skillset of a competent DBA. In most cases, there will be more than one instance of SQL Server that needs to be maintained. Complexity is introduced by the number of jobs under review and the difficulty of keeping track of jobs that run over multiple instances.

These issues can quickly overwhelm any manual monitoring process in place and result in missed or failed jobs that negatively impact the databases and applications which depend on them. Environments that contain multiple SQL Server instances will benefit from an automated tool with which to monitor and manage all of their SQL jobs. IDERA’s SQL Enterprise Job Manager is just the tool to help alleviate this complexity.

SQL Enterprise Job Manager runs as a lightweight, stand-alone web user interface that provides visibility into your SQL Server job environment from anywhere. The tool offers a comprehensive platform for enterprise job monitoring, management, and analysis. View your SQL jobs in a calendar layout that allows you to reschedule jobs by simply dragging and dropping them to a new timeframe. The job summary supplies a quick overview of the status, alerts, and schedules for all jobs across the enterprise.

Create and modify SQL Server Agent jobs from within the application and use the Performance Timeline feature to help avoid scheduling conflicts. Perform analysis on job trends to identify failed jobs and those that are run most often or take the longest to complete. Fully customizable alerts and notifications keep you apprised of issues so they can quickly be addressed. SQL Enterprise Job Manager will help DBAs avoid dropping the ball when working with SQL Server Agent jobs which should keep all concerned parties feeling good.

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