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The SQL Server Central Management System: Execution of Server Information (Part 1)

Last updated Mar 28, 2003.

I’m continuing a series on building a system that you can use to monitor and track your SQL Server systems, and in fact, any kind of system you like (The first article in this series is here). At the bottom of this article I reference a CodePlex (Microsoft’s open-source software site) where I’m creating a solution called the SQL Central Management System, or SQLCMS. If you’re interested in participating, just post a notice there that you want to join in the solution. We’ll design it together. I’m working through that project in this series of articles.

In the solution I’m building, there are three basic “components”:

  1. Storage
  2. Execution
  3. Reporting

This tutorial covers one aspect of the execution component of the project, and in specific gathering the server information.

In the last installment I showed you how to create a few base tables that store historical information and server registrations. I mentioned that you can also leverage the server names in another system or database, such as the Microsoft Assessment and Planning Solution Accelerator, or MAPS. In this tutorial I’ll explore some options for gathering the data on those servers, and then how to use that data in the Central Management Server feature in SQL Server 2008 so that you can run queries or perform other actions on them from the SQL Server Central Management System (SQLCMS) that I’m demonstrating here. You’ll see how to take a single server and make it into a central repository of configuration and performance data, as well as use tools and processes to manage from a single location.

The first option I’ll cover serves as a “model” for the other methods. All of them involve three steps:

  • Identifying the source data you want to capture
  • Identifying the location the data will end up in – the destination
  • Copying, moving or just referencing the source data from the source in the destination

I’ll spend most of the time in the MAPS example, so you can see how these steps work in each example.

Gathering Server Data using MAPS

I've explained the MAPS tool in another tutorial, so you can check there if you're new to it. It’s a free tool from Microsoft that you can use to audit your systems.

When you use MAPS to inventory your servers as I’ve described, you’ll have a wealth of knowledge that you can use on your servers. You can find out the kind of data that you can collect in this tutorial.

The question then becomes whether you want to leave that data in the MAPS database, or export it and transfer the pertinent parts into the SQLCMS tables I showed you in the last installment. The advantage of leaving it in the MAPS tool is that you can re-inventory your systems from MAPS over and over. It keeps track of what it has already inventoried using a global identifier, so when you run it again, it only updates the data.

If you do leave the data in the MAPS tool, you’ll need to include that in your plans to query across all of your data to combine it into a single report. That is what we’re after at the end of the day with this project. You will need to used a linked server or other remote query option to do that, which will have a performance impact. However, performance really isn’t an issue with a system like this, since only your administrators (and perhaps just you) and a few hundred or thousand servers are likely. So a remote query isn’t always a bad idea. I have an article here that talks about this technique.

You can also use the data in the MAPS database by transferring it directly to the base tables I referenced in the last tutorial in this series. There are a couple of ways to do that, but I’ll demonstrate the one I use here.

First, I’ll query the data structure from the destination tables, which you’ll recall I’m storing in the MDW database on my system. I want the server tables and the disk tables first. I’ll use the sp_help stored procedure to query the structure, and then use the Extended Properties I created in the last tutorial to show what they are used for:

USE MDW;
GO

/* Find the base tables to fill out */

/* Server table layout */
EXEC sp_help 'servers.system';
GO

/* Server table description */
SELECT  *
FROM    fn_listextendedproperty(NULL
, 'schema'
, 'servers'
, 'table'
, DEFAULT, NULL, NULL) 
WHERE objname = 'system';
GO

SELECT 'servers.system' AS 'Table'
      , objname AS 'Column'
      , VALUE AS 'Description'
FROM   fn_listextendedproperty(NULL
, 'schema'
, 'servers'
, 'table'
, 'system'
, 'column'
, DEFAULT) ;
GO

/* Disk table info */
EXEC sp_help 'servers.disk';
GO

/* Disk table description */
SELECT  *
FROM    fn_listextendedproperty(NULL
, 'schema'
, 'servers'
, 'table'
, DEFAULT, NULL, NULL) 
WHERE objname = 'disk';
GO

SELECT 'servers.disk' AS 'Table'
      , objname AS 'Column'
      , VALUE AS 'Description'
FROM   fn_listextendedproperty(NULL
, 'schema'
, 'servers'
, 'table'
, 'disk'
, 'column'
, DEFAULT) ;
GO

From the return, I see the list of tables, columns and so on that I need to insert. Here’s a snippet of the return I got for the “system” table, which holds my server info:

Column_name

Type

Length

Prec

Scale

Nullable

systemKey

int

4

10

0

no

DomainName

varchar

150

no

ServerName

varchar

150

no

NetworkAddress

varchar

50

yes

Architecture

varchar

50

yes

ProcessorType

varchar

50

yes

NumberOfProcessors

numeric

9

18

0

yes

TotalMemoryInstalledMB

numeric

9

18

0

yes

OperatingSystem

varchar

100

yes

OperatingServicePack

varchar

50

yes

IsClustered

bit

1

yes

Owner

varchar

150

yes

Notes

varchar

255

yes

AssetNumber

varchar

150

yes

LastUpdated

datetime

8

yes

Using this information, I can now move on to use the same methods to discover data in the MAPS database I documented in this article. Once I’ve done that, the process to insert data from one to the other becomes fairly straightforward.

I’ll demonstrate the query I use here, so that you can read through it to see how I’m moving the data from the columns I have in the MAPS database to the proper locations in the new schemas and tables I created in the MDW database. Using this method, you can transfer all of the data you want into whatever structure you have created.

/* 
Title: 002 - Setup SQLCMS.sql
Purpose: Setup the various components for SQL CMS
Version: 1.1
Modification History:
04/30/2009 - Buck Woody - Initial Script Creation
05/15/2009 - Buck Woody - Added MAPS load scripts
Replacement Parameters: (Press CTRL-SHIFT-M To use)

Requirements: 
1. SQL Server 2008
2. A database to hold these values. 

Optional: 
1. The Management Data Warehouse feature from SQL Server 2008 to be installed. Enter the name of the MDW database
you create as the "Storage_Database" value.

2. The Microsoft Assessment and Planning Tool installed and configured. Copy over the database creates from the MAPS
tool and run the usp_transfer_MAPS_data stored procedure. 
*/

/* Set the proper database */
USE <SourceDatabaseName, varchar(100), MDW>;
GO

/* Use this as a sample if you want to load the SQLCMS tables from MAPS.
Note that your MAPS database will need to be on the same Instance, 
or you could set up a linked server. */

/* Systems Tables in the MDW Database that we created earlier */
INSERT INTO [MDW].[servers].[system]
           ([DomainName]
           ,[ServerName]
           ,[Architecture]
           ,[ProcessorType]
           ,[NumberOfProcessors]
           ,[TotalMemoryInstalledMB]
           ,[OperatingSystem]
           ,[OperatingServicePack]
           ,[IsClustered]
           ,[LastUpdated])
/* MAPS Tables with base data 
Alternatively, you could leave the data there and use the 
statements below to create a view */
SELECT  DISTINCT domain = 
CASE 
	WHEN a.workgroup IS NULL THEN 'Workgroup'
	WHEN a.workgroup IS NOT NULL THEN a.workgroup
END
, a.computer_system_name
, b.address_width
, b.description
, a.number_of_processors
, a.total_physical_memory
, a.operating_system
, a.operating_system_service_pack
, c.[clustered]
, GETDATE()
FROM MAPS.dbo.devices a
INNER JOIN MAPS.dbo.processors b
ON a.device_number = b.device_number
INNER JOIN MAPS.dbo.sql_assessments c
ON a.device_number = c.device_number
WHERE c.sqlservicetype = 1;
GO

In the next installment, we’ll continue this process using PowerShell, a free discovery tool from Quest, and even other databases.

InformIT Articles and Sample Chapters

Want more on PowerShell? InformIT has several articles you can check out. One of the other guides here has a great overview on creating a file using PowerShell, something I described in this tutorial from the Windows Server Reference Guide.

Books and eBooks

Staying with the PowerShell theme, you should definitely have a good PowerShell reference book handy, like this one: Essential PowerShell, by Holger Schwichtenberg.

Online Resources

The SQL Central Management System (SQLCMS) CodePlex project is located here.