Executive Summary:

If you require basic database-monitoring capabilities, you might find what you need in the economical dbWatch 8.1. dbWatch 8.1 supports Microsoft SQL Server 2005 and SQL Server 2000, Oracle 8 and later, and MySQL. The product consists of several components that monitor a database server, record trend-analysis information in a database, and provide email and Short Message Service (SMS) alerts.

Do you need to monitor databases without breaking your budget? If so, dbWatch Software’s dbWatch 8.1 provides such capabilities. It’s a multiplatform, economical solution for keeping tabs on databases. It takes a minimalist approach to database monitoring, alerting, and reporting. dbWatch 8.1 supports SQL Server 2005/2000, Oracle 8 and later, and MySQL. The vendor has announced it will support SQL Server 2008 in late 2008 as well as Post greSQL and Sybase in future point releases. I reviewed dbWatch Professional Edition; other editions include dbWatch Standard Edition, and Enterprise Edition.

dbWatch Features

dbWatch has a distributed architecture, which includes these components:

• dbWatch Engine: a schema that’s installed on each monitored server and provides the framework for dbWatch Tasks and Checks.

• dbWatch Tasks/Checks: SQL-based plug-ins to the dbWatch Engine. Both the Tasks and Checks plug-ins record trend-analysis data to a database on the monitored server. The Checks plug-ins also alert you in real time to potential issues, such as low memory or job failure.

• dbWatch Server: a Java application that runs on any Java-supporting platform and initiates the execution of Tasks and Checks following a schedule you set. dbWatch Server can run as a service or daemon but must be active to run the Tasks and Checks.

• dbWatch Extensions: a component that lets dbWatch Server communicate with other systems.

• dbWatch Monitor: the UI that you use to install dbWatch Engine, configure Tasks and Checks on monitored database servers, review server status in real time, and use the reporting system.

Using dbWatch

An installation guide in PDF format provides a brief overview of the dbWatch architecture and procedures to install dbWatch Server and dbWatch Engine. dbWatch Server installed quickly on my Windows Server 2003 test system. From dbWatch Monitor, the Register Database wizard installs dbWatch Engine on monitored database servers. The wizard also installs a default set of 10 Tasks and 6 Checks.

DBWatch 8.1

Pros: Provides basic database monitoring for SQL Server, Oracle, and MySQL; inexpensive; provides integrated cross-platform reporting and alerting; easy to use

Cons: Offers weak diagnostic capabilities and no drill-down; supports extending out-of-box capabilities using custom reports, Checks, or Tasks, but doing so takes quite a bit of effort

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Price: Starts at $195 for Standard Edition (monitoring for five servers) and $1,995 for a Professional Edition 10-server license; $14,995 for Enterprise Edition (unlimited licenses).

Recommendation: dbWatch 8.1 is an effective, no-frills database monitoring system that I recommend for budget-conscious users who need basic monitoring capabilities.

Contact: dbWatch Software • www.dbwatchsoftware.us • (47) (22) 33-14-20; 800-270-9892

dbWatch Monitor has a fairly standard layout, letting you organize supervised systems by user-defined groups. You can also see all the standard Tasks and Checks available for SQL Server. What you see in Monitor is all you get. The default Checks survey some basic parameters, such as disk space, memory usage, job execution, and blocked transactions. The icons displayed in Monitor are color coded according to the error severity at any level in the display hierarchy, providing a quick, high-level overview of your database servers’ health. Green, for example indicates that all is OK, while yellow indicates a task or check has issued a warning.

dbWatch Monitor provides an SQL Worksheet, which lets you execute SQL statements against one or more monitored servers simultaneously by simply checking a box for the server or group name. dbWatch will merge the results into a table, which you can save to a text file.

English-language documentation for dbWatch is still a work in progress. In addition to the installation guide, dbWatch includes an HTML-based Users Guide, which I found somewhat helpful but incomplete—lacking, for example, an alphabetic index and text-search capability.

dbWatch Monitor has a wizard-driven integrated reporting feature that’s easy to use and lets you produce ondemand or scheduled reports. dbWatch includes five standard reports for SQL Server users, including availability statistics and a SQL Server health report. dbWatch generates reports in either PDF or HTML format.

Helpful and Low-Cost

dbWatch is an effective, easy-to-use multiplatform database-monitoring tool. Although it does not include the diagnostic capabilities of database-monitoring products from Idera or Quest Software, at less than $200 per monitored server, it provides serviceable monitoring at only a fraction of the cost of those tools. Scheduled reporting helps you spot trends in database disk and memory utilization, and email or SMS alerting quickly apprises you of issues. If you’re looking for a basic, budget-friendly database-monitoring solution, dbWatch should meet your needs.