Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Foxhound 3 Versus The Alternatives

(The following is an excerpt from The Foxhound 3 Database Monitor white paper.)

A database monitor is a computer program that measures the activity of a database management system and displays those measurements in a meaningful way so you can see everything's OK... or quickly learn about problems and threats to performance and availability.

Foxhound 3 is a third-party database monitor for SAP® SQL Anywhere®. Here's how it works:
  • Every 10 seconds Foxhound retrieves performance statistics from your database.

  • Foxhound then

    • stores these statistics in its own SQL Anywhere 16 database,

    • performs summarization and other value-added calculations, and

    • displays the results via HTML using SQL Anywhere's built-in HTTP server.
Figure 1 shows the Foxhound Monitor page for a lightly-loaded SQL Anywhere server with 134 connections, one of which is blocked by an uncommitted operation made by a long-running transaction on another connection.

Figure 1. The Foxhound Monitor Page Showing An Idle Server With One Blocked Connection

Table 1 compares Foxhound Version 3 with four alternative products:
Table 1. Comparing Foxhound 3 With Alternative Products
SQL Anywhere Monitor 16Sybase Central Performance Monitor 16DBConsole Utility 16Windows 7 Performance MonitorFoxhound 3
Primary purposeHealth and availability monitorPerformance monitorConnection monitorPerformance monitorHealth, availability and performance monitor
Setup requiredA lotEverythingSomeEverythingVery little
Collection interval30 sec default, 10 sec minimum1 sec fixed 4 sec default, 1 sec minimum1 sec default, 1 sec minimum10 sec fixed
PresentationGraphs, TextGraphsTextGraphsText
ImplementationAdobe FlashJavaNative WindowsNative WindowsHTML
Historical dataYes---Yes
Adhoc reporting----Yes
SQL Anywhere statisticsSome, variableAll, variableAll, variableAll, variableSome, fixed
Latency measured----Yes
Peaks recorded----Yes
Database Alerts9 point-in-time events---32 conditions
Alert "All Clear"----Yes
Drop connectionmanual-manual-AutoDrop
Target databases supported11, 12, 16, On Demand 1.011, 12, 16, On Demand 1.011, 12, 16, On Demand 1.05.5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 16, On Demand 1.05.5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 16, On Demand 1.0
Target hosts supportedlocal, networklocal, networklocal, networklocallocal, network
MobiLink and Relay Server supportYes----
What's good?PrettyFreeFreeFreeBusinesslike
What else?ConfusingHideousBasicHideousCrowded

Primary purpose: The SQL Anywhere Monitor omits the phrase "performance monitor" from the docs as does DBConsole.

Setup required: Both DBConsole and Foxhound let you "connect and go" to see something useful while the others require varying degrees of effort just to get started.

Collection interval: Only one Foxhound customer has ever asked for "faster", nobody wants "slower".

Presentation: Nobody's ever asked for graphs so they remain a low-priority item for Foxhound.

Implementation: How a product was built can explain a lot about how it looks and feels and works.

Historical data: This sets the SQL Anywhere Monitor and Foxhound far, far apart from the others.

Adhoc reporting: This is about historical data, not retrieving current statistics from SQL Anywhere or Windows.

SQL Anywhere statistics: Like the collection interval, Foxhound's choice of which statistics to display is fixed.

Latency measured: Response time isn't one of the statistics provided by SQL Anywhere.

Peaks recorded: Peak values are displayed as hypertext links into Foxhound's historical data.

Database Alerts: Events happen once, conditions go into and out of effect.

Alert "All Clear": It's important to know when an Alert condition is no longer in effect.

Drop connection: Runaway connections are a big deal in some shops... not all, but some.

Target databases supported: Foxhound support for Version 5.5 databases will disappear someday, but not yet.

Target hosts supported: The Windows 7 Performance Monitor reports on the computer it's running on.

MobiLink and Relay Server support: The SQL Anywhere Monitor is the only game in town for this.

What's good? "If you had to use a single word to describe what you like about..."

What else? "Give me another word, this time describing what you don't like about..."

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