Viewing configuration settings without access to SQL Server

Have you ever been asked to help with a database issue but you can’t get access? Maybe you’re helping out a colleague over Skype, responding to a #sqlhelp request or asking for help yourself and want to provide more information. Quite often, there’s a simple configuration setting that may not be optimal but checking every setting could be time consuming and something could be missed (there’s a lot of settings).

You could start by running some scripts like sp_blitz (really useful) but they don’t always give you the complete picture. Aireforge Studio can take an in-depth snapshot of a single instance or the entire estate. This can be really useful to do before or after carrying out any changes. You could also attach the saved comparison file to the support ticket, so you know exactly how it looked before and after any changes made.

Here’s a quick tutorial on how you could share configuration information about your SQL Server instance or instance(s) with another person or organisation.

Taking a configuration snapshot

If you’re new to Aireforge Studio check out the getting started page, although it’s a quite simple application. Once downloaded, create a profile and add the server(s) in question.

Note: If you wish to compare more than 200 servers, contact the team and we’ll relax the limit for you.

Go to the compare tab and select the comparisons you wish to run or select Full to run them all. A full comparison should finish in a few seconds and won’t display any results if you only compared one server or if all of your servers are identical. Now save the results as an .afd (Aireforge Data) file and send it to the other party.

save

Viewing the results

The receiver will also need to have Aireforge Studio installed. Once installed you can either double click on the .afd file to open, or load the file from within the application. To view the results change Differences to All Rows and the View to Grid. If information has been collected from more than one server, you could also use the summary view to quickly see any differences.

results

Aireforge Studio performs 39 preconfigured checks but if it doesn’t gather the information you require, you can create your own custom comparisons.

Any problems, however small, please contact Aireforge support.

You can also use our Wantoo board to request new features or improvements? .

Visit Aireforge

Download Aireforge Studio

Custom comparisons in Aireforge Studio

We have quite a few new features to talk about in our initial release of Aireforge Studio but I’ll start with one of my favourites; custom comparisons. Towards the middle of last year the team completed a total overhaul of OmniCompare, which meant that we could support any database provider (plans here) and made the creating or amending of comparisons much simpler. So simple that we put a GUI in front of it for Aireforge Studio and Bobs your uncle, we have custom comparisons.

Custom comparisons enable you to check values that are specific to your setup, such as the last update time in a table, row counts from replicated tables that should be in sync or you could make use of brand new DMVs by creating your own query rather than waiting for the next release of Aireforge Studio.

Note: We have plans to make the downloading and sharing of comparisons much easier and release independent.

Creating a custom comparison

Open Aireforge Studio 0.9.5 or newer, then navigate to the Compare tab, select Configure from the toolbar and then Add Comparison.

compare_customcomparison

From this dialog you can create your own custom comparison. Lets create one to check if lock pages in memory is set.

Note: This will only work for SQL Server 2016 SP1 or newer and will fail on 2016 or below. You could put your own version check in the script for now but we’ll be making the version selection more granular.

Name: Lock Pages in Memory

Author: You

Category: Create a new one or put it in Instance \ Hardware

Description: Returns sql_memory_model_desc which is either CONVENTIONAL, LOCK_PAGES or LARGE_PAGES (EE Only)

Query: As this only applies to SQL Server 2016 SP1, we only need a single query but it’s possible to create different queries, for different versions of SQL Server. This is useful if you want to convert values so that they match between versions (KB to MB etc.).

SELECT  sql_memory_model_desc
FROM    sys.dm_os_sys_info;

Applies to: Select SQL Server 2016. Again, this will break other comparisons if you have 2016 servers that are not running SP1.

Columns: Select how Aireforge Studio should compare the column(s) and match the rows. We should choose Normal Compare for this example but the other options are:

  • Primary Key: Used to match rows in the result sets
  • Ignore: Ignored from the result set and not displayed
  • Normal Compare: Should be equal across all servers
  • No Compare: Displayed in results but not compared between servers
  • Unique: Should be unique amongst servers

Now save the custom comparison and perform an Aireforge Studio compare. If you create a useful script and you think we should include it, please email us or create a support ticket.

Download Aireforge Studio

OmniCompare becomes Aireforge Studio

We created OmniCompare over a year ago now and it has evolved quite a bit since the early days of merely comparing the results from a small number of queries; mainly sys.configurations. The application is getting more powerful with each release and we’re also making good progress on OmniGuard, which protects SQL Server estates from unauthorised access, and OmniTune, which provides powerful tuning information for single or multiple databases.

With these new applications nearing beta release and OmniCompare nearing it’s official release, we had to make the decision to either continue with OmniCompare and create separate applications for our others tools or create a single application which contains our growing suite of tools. We opted for the later, and created Aireforge Studio.

A single application enables us to remain lean in terms of development and marketing but it will provide a better experience for the user. Again, this consumed a large amount of our development time and pushed us back a few month, but we’re keen to create the best foundation for our products before the official release(s).

The beta of Aireforge Studio 0.9.5 is now available to download either by updating OmniCompare or downloading OmniCompare from the website.