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John Paul Cook

Microsoft Atlanta First Look

I’m using the cloud based tool codenamed Atlanta to monitor one of my servers. There are two simple questions to ask about any tool. Is it useful? Is it annoying? I’ve found Atlanta to be useful without being annoying. It found things I’d missed without having me wade through a bunch of useless messages.

You can try this product for free by going here: https://www.microsoftatlanta.com/. A Silverlight enabled browser is required to run Atlanta. There are two components to Atlanta, a gateway and an agent. Each monitored machine needs an agent. You can have multiple agents reporting to a single gateway. Read the product information to learn more.

Here are some of the alerts Atlanta provided me:

image

Let’s drill down to the contents of these alerts. I had to do screen captures because I couldn’t select the text (which I think should be selectable in the final version) from the alert pane.

Alert 1

image

I’d totally missed that. It’s useful.

Alert 2

image

This is a four core machine with only one tempdb file. This is a useful alert, but something best discussed in a separate blog post on tempdb.

Alert 3

image

Most embarrassing! Yes, I’d missed this. It is a very useful alert.

Alert 4

image

Obviously useful.

Alert 5

Same as alert 4, useful.

There was an alert about a database that hadn’t been backed up. That is generally a good thing to know, but in my specific case, it was a false positive. I can’t blame Atlanta for that, though. The database had been restored from another server and is being used as a readonly copy. I didn't set the database to readonly - I used granted permissions to keep people from changing it for reasons that aren't of general interest. If this database was lost, it would be restored from the same backup. No need to backup a copy of a backup. Atlanta couldn’t know that. I won’t admit if Atlanta found a database that hadn’t been backed up that should have been – you never know who could be reading this blog!

As previously mentioned, I’d like to see the text of an alert message selectable so that it can be pasted elsewhere. I’d like the references to Books Online or the Knowledge Base to be clickable within the Detail tab. These are very minor issues. If you click on the Solution tab, the references are clickable.

I’m finding Atlanta to be a very useful tool and recommend that you give it a try.

Published Wednesday, November 10, 2010 2:54 PM by John Paul Cook

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Comments

 

AaronBertrand said:

John,

I was on the TAP for Atlanta, and at that point, clusters were not supported.  Has this restriction been lifted?

Aaron

November 10, 2010 7:46 PM
 

lixiong said:

Yes

Beta supports clustering.

Release notes for beta:

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ff976541.aspx

"Clustering support

The Atlanta beta agent is supported on computers running Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2 and configured to be part of a Windows failover cluster. The discovery and configuration rules will be run on SQL Server instances running on the active nodes of the cluster. Configuration analysis of passive nodes is not supported. In addition, the Atlanta beta portal does not support grouping or linking of Windows Server computers that are part of the same Windows failover cluster.

"

November 10, 2010 11:18 PM
 

Paul Mestemaker said:

Hey John!  I am a program manager on Microsoft codename "Atlanta".  Glad you found some value in our initial set of alerts.

re: Backup alert is false positive

We take false positives very seriously.  The logic behind that rule actually checks to see if the database is:

* Mirrored (will not alert)

* Snapshot (will not alert)

* TempDB (will not alert)

* Is in standby (will not alert)

We were considering checking if the database was in read-only mode, but figured that there should be at least one backup even if it is read-only.  I'll check with the CSS guys to see if we can improve this alert for your scenario where you restored the DB from backup.

Thanks again for the post!

Paul A. Mestemaker II

Program Manager

Microsoft codename "Atlanta"

November 10, 2010 11:19 PM
 

Paul Mestemaker said:

@AaronBertrand: our clustering story has been improved from TAP.  The Atlanta agent has been fully tested on clusters and works fine.  The portal experience we have for clusters is less than ideal right now.  We do not have the visualizations to make it easy to understand when a box is clustered and which node is currently active/passive.  We also do not have knowledge right now that analyzes clusters holistically.  Clustering is an area that we are looking into for our next wave.  So feel free to use the Atlanta Beta on your cluster and send us some feedback on how we can improve.

Thanks for being part of our TAP/Beta!

Paul A. Mestemaker II

Program Manager

Microsoft codename "Atlanta"

November 10, 2010 11:26 PM
 

John Paul Cook said:

Paul, I did not set the database to readonly for reasons not worth explaining. The only access granted was through db_datareader. The database isn't technically readonly, but from a practical, functional sense, it is. Atlanta can't know that this database doesn't need to be backed up. Only I would know that.

November 10, 2010 11:31 PM
 

Brent Ozar said:

Can you mark an alert as acknowledged or unimportant?  That way it can ignore the false positives for things like the missing backups.

November 13, 2010 10:20 AM
 

Paul Mestemaker said:

@Brent Ozar asked:

"Can you mark an alert as acknowledged or unimportant? That way it can ignore the false positives for things like the missing backups."

Hey Brent,

Unfortunately, the "acknowledge"/"ignore" feature did not make it into our beta release. It is one of the many alert management features that we have in the pipeline.  A basic version of this should be present in the next release.  If you'd like to be kept in the loop on its progress, you could create a suggestion on our Connect site. "https://connect.microsoft.com/site1143/feedback/CreateFeedbackForm.aspx?FeedbackFormConfigurationID=4561&FeedbackType=1"

Paul A. Mestemaker II

Program Manager

Microsoft codename "Atlanta"

http://blogs.technet.com/Atlanta/

November 13, 2010 3:16 PM
 

Simon Rapier said:

@John Paul, @Paul A. Mestemaker

You could devise a way of "telling" Atlanta that your database didn't need to be backed up though, perhaps using something like an extended property on the database?..

November 18, 2010 6:17 AM
 

John Paul Cook said:

Since my previous post on Microsoft Atlanta , I've been asked how someone can get started with it. Go

January 17, 2011 10:18 AM

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About John Paul Cook

John Paul Cook is both a Registered Nurse and a Microsoft SQL Server MVP experienced in Microsoft SQL Server and Oracle database application design, development, and implementation. He has spoken at many conferences including Microsoft TechEd and the SQL PASS Summit. He has worked in oil and gas, financial, manufacturing, and healthcare industries. Experienced in systems integration and workflow analysis, John is passionate about combining his IT experience with his nursing background to solve difficult problems in healthcare. He sees opportunities in using business intelligence and Big Data to satisfy healthcare meaningful use requirements and improve patient outcomes. John graduated from Vanderbilt University with a Master of Science in Nursing Informatics and is an active member of the Sigma Theta Tau nursing honor society. Contributing author to SQL Server MVP Deep Dives and SQL Server MVP Deep Dives Volume 2.

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