The new SQL Server Master-Class in – why SQLSentry Bootcamp

First off, the most important information in a nutshell:

From 26-28 June, I am conducting a new SQL Server Master-Class: The Performance Troubleshooting Bootcamp with SQLSentry (shorthand: PSS*). For those in a hurry, the link for registration right below:


Background to the Master-Class series

Since 2013, I have been conducting these open seminars under the label SQL Server Master-Class once or twice a year (and additionally inhouse with clients, as needed). The first ones were 2-day classes on Extended Events (SQL Server Master-Class Seminars – The tools at your fingertips – Start in May with Extended Events).

With these trainings I seek an in-depth and practice-oriented approach to teaching the topics – thus offering an alternative or complement to the MOC trainings that suffer from various problems (unrealistic thematic diversity, faulty material, inexperienced because cheap trainers – “you get what you pay for”, etc.).

This has been a successful approach, as you can read in these customer reviews.

Why a Master-Class on SQLSentry?

Let’s start with:

Why SQLSentry?

One may wonder why someone like me who is acting independently of third-parties is now offering a training strongly based (approx. 50%) on the software of a certain manufacturer.

I am happy to elaborate on this. But first, let’s take a step back:

The reason as to why I am reluctant to refer to certain software (or hardware) manufacturers is that decisions based on them will naturally be attributed to me. And even with SQL Server itself, it is a challenge to recommend the most suitable (“the best,” if you will), feature for particular demands. That is my main task, and that is what I am a (two-fold) Master for. Keeping track of other software manufacturers, their tools and, above all, their varying quality, on top of all this, is tough.

Therefore, it must really be the very best tool in a particular area, and with sufficient continuity, before I associate my name with it. And it so happens that SQLSentry by SentryOne is without doubt its own league in the area of Monitoring SQL Server (but also SSAS and Azure components).

Why? If it was just a single feature, I would not be sticking to it.

SQLSentry contains a plethora of specialized components for different areas in SQL Server, of which some are also patented, but I will try to keep it short and just name the most particular ones:

  • The Event Calendar merges all SQL Agent Jobs but also Windows Tasks and striking Performance Events in an outlook-style calendar format, thus allowing for time correlations.
  • Intelligent Alerting allows you to define complex conditions – because oftentimes, singular Performance Metrics alone do not suffice for an evaluation. With this feature, they can be combined. And this is how Pro-Active Monitoring is possible (!).
  • The Disk-Activity view shows the SQL file usage in a detailed graphic representation.
  • The AlwaysOn Availability Group Visualizations show the architecture and utilization of the Availability Groups – in fact, what’s still missing is something comparable for Replication. 🙂
  • Index- and statistics analysis – from fragmentation down to histogram level
  • Job Chaining – chaining processes of different components across servers
  • And of course, the Performance Dashboard itself: it shows not only the utilization of the server (Windows, SQL and possibly VM Host), but it also makes it possible to quickly create one’s own baselines or to rely on automatically created ones (like “last week,” “yesterday”) and save them for comparisons.

Apart from the mere features that are already in themselves unrivaled, there are at least 2 more aspects that are important to a professional Performance Monitoring tool:

  1. Low Overhead on the monitored system: As a matter of fact, SentryOne is the only manufacturer to have published detailed numbers on the impact on the monitored server – and due to the optimized self-developed technology, it is very low – unlike what you will often hear about other tools.

SQL Sentry: Overhead Analysis:

2. Update cycles: Also an important aspect. The tool is continually being developed further. Generally, there are 2-4 updates a year, which are included in the maintenance service (as is support).

These are the reasons as to why I can back my “product recommendation” with a clear conscience, knowing well that this product will be further maintained and updated at a high level on an ongoing basis.

However, I do not mean to say that one shouldn’t also consider other tools from time to time. It depends on one’s environment: Size, complexity, performance level, SLA (reaction time: proactive, or is reactive sufficient?), and, again, time: Time to manually execute important correlations, time to build certain visualizations oneself. – For those with time on their hands, a saving of approx. 1 consultant day rate (per monitored server) may make sense, and I would not hesitate to recommend this myself. That’s also what I am here to help with. (So just to be clear, I am in no way obliged to SentryOne.)

So why a Master-Class on SQLSentry?

Having justified the choice tool, let’s now turn to the initial question:

It’s simple: The demand. I have several clients by now who work with SQLSentry. Since this tool is comprehensive and powerful, as described above, it makes absolutely sense to learn the handling and configuration possibilities in detail in order to achieve the set goals: proactive monitoring, time-efficient troubleshooting.

On top of that, I decided to split the training about 50-50 into native SQL techniques and specific handling of SQLSentry. The reason is that in my opinion, a certain knowledge of SQL Server’s internal mechanisms and monitoring possibilities serve, for one, the understanding of why SQLSentry does this or that in such and such a way, and, secondly, an occasional excursion directly to the SQL Server makes sense over the course of a practical troubleshooting.

Therefore, we will be working with the Windows Performance Monitor (short: Perfmon), Dynamic Management Views (DMVs), and Extended Events, which are the tools of choice for In-Depth-Analysis, and whose use will be learned here. For the identification of Plan Regression, SQL Server Query Store of course lends itself for this purpose.

With all these techniques we will be looking at different scenarios:

  • Memory problems
  • Identifying Plan Regression
  • Analysis of Indexes & Statistics
  • Identifying I/O Latency problems
  • Analyzing Tempdb Performance
  • Locking & Blocking Analysis
  • Deadlocks

If you would like to secure one of the rare spots (the seminar was already booked 70% within 2 weeks, even though the Early Bird Offer still applies until 23 May), below find once more the link for registration and further information:

see you soon,


*Insiders will recognize the innuendo for “PSS,” which also stands for “Product Support Services,” and will also know that “PSS Diag” is a tool for collecting Performance data that is also used by the SQL Server PSS team 😉

P.S.: For this blog post, I have received no remuneration whatsoever by any manufacturer 😉

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