Microsoft and open source don't always seem to go hand in hand, but I encourage you to check out CodePlex if you're not already familiar with it. CodePlex is a Web site run and managed by Microsoft under an open-source licensing model that lets members of the community post working projects with their source code.

Currently, CodePlex offers more than 2,000 projects and more are being added all the time. There are more than 50 projects directly related to SQL Server and many more that are related to database technologies in one way or another. Microsoft makes it clear that it doesn't guarantee the quality of the code or provide support for it. Microsoft simply provides the infrastructure that lets CodePlex function as a repository for open-source code. Projects don't have to be focused on, or built, using Microsoft technology, although most of the solutions I saw were built around the Microsoft technology stack. I'm sure that there are many other valuable open-source development projects (e.g., SourceForge.net), and I don't mean to imply that CodePlex is the best or only resource you should review in this space. One project posted at CodePlex caught my eye and was the impetus for me to focus on CodePlex this week. This project is called DMVStats and was posted on CodePlex in July. You can download DMVStats from http://www.codeplex.com/sqldmvstats.

Many readers know that I've always been a bit of a performance-tuning geek and love any excuse to cover the topic in my commentary. You probably also know that I've strongly encouraged readers to dig into Dynamic Management Views (DMVs), which were first introduced in SQL Server 2005. They're wonderful, almost magical, windows into the inner realms of the SQL Server engine. However, the community at large generally underuses DMVs and not many ISV's have written tools designed specifically to mine information from them. I've also written about the SQL Server Development Customer Advisory Team (SQLCAT) on many occasions. SQLCAT (http://blogs.msdn.com/sqlcat/) is a team at Microsoft that's focused on "the biggest of the big, hardest of the hard" SQL Server problems around the world. The team helps customers solve thorny problems and ensures that the feedback and lessons learned get back to the product team and distributed to the SQL Server community when appropriate.

DMVStats is a wonderful tool created and published by Tom Davidson and Sanjay Mishra. Tom and Sanjay are both part of the Microsoft SQL Server Development Customer Advisory Best Practices Team, which I wrote about several weeks ago. The Microsoft SQL Server Customer Advisory Best Practices Team is a new subset of SQLCAT focused on ensuring that best practices learned and defined by SQLCAT are shared with the SQL Server community. I won't cover DMVStats in detail, but at a high level, DMVStats automates the collection of key performance-tuning data from SQL Server DMVs, loads the data into a performance-oriented data warehouse, and includes reporting and visualization tools for interacting with the data.

Performance tuning? A free tool that demystifies DMVs? More great work from SQLCAT? How could I possibly pass up that tuning trifecta?

I was intrigued by the possibility that DMVStats represents an initial investment in a long-term strategy by SQLCAT to dispense its knowledge through tools, not just blogs and white papers. I asked Tom and Sanjay about SQLCAT's long-term strategy and was thrilled to hear that the team is planning to make additional investments in DMVStats and other tools like it over time. Tom told me that SQLCAT views DMVStats as an emerging, important tool for SQL Server 2005 and future versions of SQL Server. Tom also said SQLCAT's initial goals for the first release of DMVStats were for it to be educational (i.e., how to approach performance tuning) and contain expert knowledge and guidance from SQLCAT. Future improvements might focus on remote and centralized monitoring with a DMVStats collection agent that permits multiple SQL Server boxes to be monitored from a single DMVStats console, with no DMVStats code present on the remote boxes. Excellent news in my opinion.