One of the appeals of using SQL Server as a database platform is the functionality and productivity that can be enjoyed through the use of the SQL Server Agent. Using this SQL Server facility wisely can make a big difference in the ability of database developers or administrators to maintain their database systems efficiently. This post is going to explore the SQL Server Agent as well as a tool that facilitates the management of SQL Server jobs.
A Look Inside the SQL Server Agent
The SQL Server Agent is a Microsoft Windows service that is used to execute scheduled administrative tasks, known as jobs, in SQL Server. Jobs are made up of one or many steps, each of which performs a task such as copying or backing up a database. Jobs can be scheduled to automate repetitive tasks to alleviate the possibility that they are overlooked by busy DBAs and to remove the burden of manually performing basic maintenance operations.
The SQL Server Agent stores job information and records the outcome of job steps. Notifications can be generated when a job step encounters a problem. The Agent is comprised of multiple components that are used to define what tasks to perform and when to perform them. It also provides flexibility regarding how success or failure is reported.
Jobs are a defined series of actions that are performed by SQL Server Agent. Jobs can be created to run once or multiple times and can be monitored for success or failure. A job can be run locally or on multiple remote SQL Servers. Each specific action in a job is called a job step and every step is run in a designated security context. Jobs can be run manually, in response to alerts, or based on schedules.
Schedules are used to define when a SQL Server Agent job is executed. A single schedule can be used to run more than one job and multiple schedules can apply to the same job. The conditions that can cause a job to run include:
- Running when SQL Server Agent starts;
- When CPU utilization reaches levels defined as idle;
- Once, at a designated date and time;
- On a recurring schedule.
Alerts are automatic responses to specific events that occur during job execution. The types of events that can generate an alert are SQL Server events, SQL Server performance conditions, and Microsoft Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) events. Once it has been generated, an alert can run a job or be used to notify one or more operators.
Operators are used in defining the contact information for the personnel responsible for particular instances of SQL Server. Operators can be notified of alerts through emails, pagers, or the net send facility using Windows Messenger.
SQL Server Agent jobs enable teams to automate procedures and receive notifications based on their outcome. In shops with multiple SQL Server instances, keeping track of the jobs can present a challenge.
A Tool to Minimize the Complexity of Job Scheduling
SQL Enterprise Job Manager from IDERA is a valuable addition to the software toolbox used to support SQL Server environments. It provides several features that help a database team handle a complex environment with multiple SQL Servers running many different jobs. With SQL Enterprise Job Manager, a database team can:
- Monitor SQL Server Agent jobs on all instances in the environment;
- View job status and details in a convenient calendar format;
- Chain jobs and develop automated workflows;
- Set alerts and notification settings;
- Configure and manage jobs running over multiple SQL Server instances.
It’s a great application for busy database teams who are responsible for multiple instances of SQL Server on-premises or in the cloud.
Trends are Not Just for Fashionistas!
Paying attention to trends may influence the way a database team chooses their wardrobe or musical selections on their iPhone. These items will not usually have a major impact on the business of maintaining their SQL Server environment. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t trends that DBAs should be analyzing.
The ability to view the trends affecting your SQL Server Agent jobs can provide insight into modifications that can be made to use system resources more efficiently. It may be that jobs are failing or taking an exorbitant amount of time to run due to contention over things like access to backup media. Studying job trends allows you to make simple adjustments to address these kinds of issues.
A short IDERA video is available that demonstrates how to use SQL Enterprise Job Manager to identify and analyze trends in your SQL Server jobs. It walks you through the process of displaying and investigating the trends that affect your SQL Server Agent jobs. Check it out to learn a quick and easy way of streamlining the execution of your SQL Server Agent jobs.