This month the SQLskills team is presenting a series of blog posts aimed at helping Accidental/Junior DBAs ‘keep the SQL Server lights on’. It’s a little taster to let you know what we cover in our Immersion Event for The Accidental/Junior DBA, which we present several times each year. If you know someone who would benefit from this class, refer them and earn a $50 Amazon gift card – see class pages for details. You can find all the other posts in this series at http://www.SQLskills.com/help/AccidentalDBA. Enjoy!

One necessary part of being a responsible, pro-active DBA is to try to configure your SQL Server instances in such a manner so they will be as reliable as possible. This begins with how you initially install and configure the operating system and SQL Server, and what you do over time to maintain and monitor your SQL Server instances. I previously wrote a three part series about how to provision a new SQL Server instance that is available on the SimpleTalk web site. Part One is here, Part Two is here, and Part Three is here. If you read and follow my recommendations in those three articles, you will have a very good installation and configuration foundation to build on going forward.

One subject that I touched on in Part Three of that series was how to use some T-SQL to quickly create SQL Server Agent Alerts for a number of critical error conditions. SQL Server Agent Alerts are often confused with SQL Server Agent job notifications, but they are actually quite different. SQL Server Agent job notifications allow you to send an e-mail or page to a SQL Server Operator when an Agent job fails, succeeds or completes. The most common usage is to send an e-mail to your SQL Server Operator (which can be an e-mail distribution list) whenever a SQL Server Agent job fails. You really should make sure each of your SQL Server Agent Jobs has a proper SQL Server Agent job notification so that someone in your organization knows whenever a SQL Server Agent job fails, so that the problem can be investigated and corrected. The Notification tab for a SQL Server Agent Job is shown in Figure 1.

image thumb4 The Accidental DBA (Day 17 of 30): Configuring Alerts for High Severity Problems

Figure 1: SQL Server Agent Job Notification Tab

While these Agent Job notifications are important, they are not the same thing as a SQL Server Agent Alert. A SQL Server Agent Alert will trigger an action (such as notifying an Operator by sending an e-mail) whenever certain errors occur or certain other performance conditions exist (that are detected from Windows Performance Monitor objects values or Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) queries). You can also execute a SQL Server Agent Job in response to a SQL Server Agent Alert, in addition to simply notifying an Operator. This is much better than finding out about a problem by stumbling across it in the SQL Server Error Log or finding about it when it has led to some problem that is affecting your availability or data integrity. Figure 2 shows the General tab for a SQL Server Agent Alert. Figure 3 shows the Response tab for for a SQL Server Agent Alert.

image thumb5 The Accidental DBA (Day 17 of 30): Configuring Alerts for High Severity Problems

Figure 2: SQL Server Agent Alert General Tab

 

image thumb6 The Accidental DBA (Day 17 of 30): Configuring Alerts for High Severity Problems

Figure 3: SQL Server Agent Alert Response Tab

Paul Randal previously wrote about the importance of creating SQL Server Agent Alerts. I wanted to make it even easier to create a set of very important SQL Server Agent Alerts by just running a relatively simple T-SQL script. The code below automatically picks up the server name and uses that as part of the alert name. It also uses variables for the operator name and for the alert category name. In this script, the delay between responses is set to 900 seconds, which is 15 minutes. That might be a little on the long side, but I did not want the operator to get spammed with e-mail alerts every couple of minutes. You can always adjust that value to whatever you see fit.

You need to make sure that you have a SQL Operator defined for your instance (and that you change the name of the operator in the script below to match your Operator name). You also need to make sure that you have Database Mail properly configured and enabled, so that you will actually get an e-mail when one of your SQL Server Agent Alerts is triggered.

-- Add important SQL Agent Alerts to your instance
-- Change the @OperatorName as needed

USE [msdb];
GO

-- Make sure you have an Agent Operator defined
-- Change @OperatorName as needed
DECLARE @OperatorName sysname = N'SQLDBAGroup';

-- Change @CategoryName as needed
DECLARE @CategoryName sysname = N'SQL Server Agent Alerts';

-- Add Alert Category if it does not exist
IF NOT EXISTS (SELECT *
               FROM msdb.dbo.syscategories
               WHERE category_class = 2  -- ALERT
               AND category_type = 3
               AND name = @CategoryName)
    BEGIN
        EXEC dbo.sp_add_category @class = N'ALERT', @type = N'NONE', @name = @CategoryName;
    END

-- Get the server name
DECLARE @ServerName sysname = (SELECT @@SERVERNAME);

-- Alert Names start with the name of the server 
DECLARE @Sev19AlertName sysname = @ServerName + N' Alert - Sev 19 Error: Fatal Error in Resource';
DECLARE @Sev20AlertName sysname = @ServerName + N' Alert - Sev 20 Error: Fatal Error in Current Process';
DECLARE @Sev21AlertName sysname = @ServerName + N' Alert - Sev 21 Error: Fatal Error in Database Process';
DECLARE @Sev22AlertName sysname = @ServerName + N' Alert - Sev 22 Error Fatal Error: Table Integrity Suspect';
DECLARE @Sev23AlertName sysname = @ServerName + N' Alert - Sev 23 Error: Fatal Error Database Integrity Suspect';
DECLARE @Sev24AlertName sysname = @ServerName + N' Alert - Sev 24 Error: Fatal Hardware Error';
DECLARE @Sev25AlertName sysname = @ServerName + N' Alert - Sev 25 Error: Fatal Error';
DECLARE @Error825AlertName sysname = @ServerName + N' Alert - Error 825: Read-Retry Required';

-- Sev 19 Error: Fatal Error in Resource
IF NOT EXISTS (SELECT name FROM msdb.dbo.sysalerts WHERE name = @Sev19AlertName)
    EXEC msdb.dbo.sp_add_alert @name = @Sev19AlertName, 
                  @message_id=0, @severity=19, @enabled=1, 
                  @delay_between_responses=900, @include_event_description_in=1,
                  @category_name = @CategoryName, 
                  @job_id=N'00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000';

-- Add a notification if it does not exist
IF NOT EXISTS(SELECT *
          FROM dbo.sysalerts AS sa
          INNER JOIN dbo.sysnotifications AS sn
          ON sa.id = sn.alert_id
          WHERE sa.name = @Sev19AlertName)
    BEGIN
        EXEC msdb.dbo.sp_add_notification @alert_name = @Sev19AlertName, @operator_name=@OperatorName, @notification_method = 1;
    END

-- Sev 20 Error: Fatal Error in Current Process
IF NOT EXISTS (SELECT name FROM msdb.dbo.sysalerts WHERE name = @Sev20AlertName)
    EXEC msdb.dbo.sp_add_alert @name = @Sev20AlertName, 
                  @message_id=0, @severity=20, @enabled=1, 
                  @delay_between_responses=900, @include_event_description_in=1,
                  @category_name = @CategoryName, 
                  @job_id=N'00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000'

-- Add a notification if it does not exist
IF NOT EXISTS(SELECT *
          FROM dbo.sysalerts AS sa
          INNER JOIN dbo.sysnotifications AS sn
          ON sa.id = sn.alert_id
          WHERE sa.name = @Sev20AlertName)
    BEGIN
        EXEC msdb.dbo.sp_add_notification @alert_name = @Sev20AlertName, @operator_name=@OperatorName, @notification_method = 1;
    END

-- Sev 21 Error: Fatal Error in Database Process
IF NOT EXISTS (SELECT name FROM msdb.dbo.sysalerts WHERE name = @Sev21AlertName)
    EXEC msdb.dbo.sp_add_alert @name = @Sev21AlertName, 
                  @message_id=0, @severity=21, @enabled=1, 
                  @delay_between_responses=900, @include_event_description_in=1,
                  @category_name = @CategoryName, 
                  @job_id=N'00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000';

-- Add a notification if it does not exist
IF NOT EXISTS(SELECT *
          FROM dbo.sysalerts AS sa
          INNER JOIN dbo.sysnotifications AS sn
          ON sa.id = sn.alert_id
          WHERE sa.name = @Sev21AlertName)
    BEGIN
        EXEC msdb.dbo.sp_add_notification @alert_name = @Sev21AlertName, @operator_name=@OperatorName, @notification_method = 1;
    END

-- Sev 22 Error: Fatal Error Table Integrity Suspect
IF NOT EXISTS (SELECT name FROM msdb.dbo.sysalerts WHERE name = @Sev22AlertName)
    EXEC msdb.dbo.sp_add_alert @name = @Sev22AlertName, 
                  @message_id=0, @severity=22, @enabled=1, 
                  @delay_between_responses=900, @include_event_description_in=1,
                  @category_name = @CategoryName, 
                  @job_id=N'00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000';

-- Add a notification if it does not exist
IF NOT EXISTS(SELECT *
          FROM dbo.sysalerts AS sa
          INNER JOIN dbo.sysnotifications AS sn
          ON sa.id = sn.alert_id
          WHERE sa.name = @Sev22AlertName)
    BEGIN
        EXEC msdb.dbo.sp_add_notification @alert_name = @Sev22AlertName, @operator_name=@OperatorName, @notification_method = 1;
    END

-- Sev 23 Error: Fatal Error Database Integrity Suspect
IF NOT EXISTS (SELECT name FROM msdb.dbo.sysalerts WHERE name = @Sev23AlertName)
    EXEC msdb.dbo.sp_add_alert @name = @Sev23AlertName, 
                  @message_id=0, @severity=23, @enabled=1, 
                  @delay_between_responses=900, @include_event_description_in=1,
                  @category_name = @CategoryName, 
                  @job_id=N'00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000';

-- Add a notification if it does not exist
IF NOT EXISTS(SELECT *
          FROM dbo.sysalerts AS sa
          INNER JOIN dbo.sysnotifications AS sn
          ON sa.id = sn.alert_id
          WHERE sa.name = @Sev23AlertName)
    BEGIN
        EXEC msdb.dbo.sp_add_notification @alert_name = @Sev23AlertName, @operator_name = @OperatorName, @notification_method = 1;
    END

-- Sev 24 Error: Fatal Hardware Error
IF NOT EXISTS (SELECT name FROM msdb.dbo.sysalerts WHERE name = @Sev24AlertName)
    EXEC msdb.dbo.sp_add_alert @name = @Sev24AlertName, 
                  @message_id=0, @severity=24, @enabled=1, 
                  @delay_between_responses=900, @include_event_description_in=1,
                  @category_name = @CategoryName, 
                  @job_id=N'00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000';

-- Add a notification if it does not exist
IF NOT EXISTS(SELECT *
          FROM dbo.sysalerts AS sa
          INNER JOIN dbo.sysnotifications AS sn
          ON sa.id = sn.alert_id
          WHERE sa.name = @Sev24AlertName)
    BEGIN
        EXEC msdb.dbo.sp_add_notification @alert_name = @Sev24AlertName, @operator_name = @OperatorName, @notification_method = 1;
    END

-- Sev 25 Error: Fatal Error
IF NOT EXISTS (SELECT name FROM msdb.dbo.sysalerts WHERE name = @Sev25AlertName)
    EXEC msdb.dbo.sp_add_alert @name = @Sev25AlertName, 
                  @message_id=0, @severity=25, @enabled=1, 
                  @delay_between_responses=900, @include_event_description_in=1, 
                  @category_name = @CategoryName,
                  @job_id=N'00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000';

-- Add a notification if it does not exist
IF NOT EXISTS(SELECT *
          FROM dbo.sysalerts AS sa
          INNER JOIN dbo.sysnotifications AS sn
          ON sa.id = sn.alert_id
          WHERE sa.name = @Sev25AlertName)
    BEGIN
        EXEC msdb.dbo.sp_add_notification @alert_name = @Sev25AlertName, @operator_name = @OperatorName, @notification_method = 1;
    END

-- Error 825: Read-Retry Required
IF NOT EXISTS (SELECT name FROM msdb.dbo.sysalerts WHERE name = @Error825AlertName)
    EXEC msdb.dbo.sp_add_alert @name = @Error825AlertName, 
                  @message_id=825, @severity=0, @enabled=1, 
                  @delay_between_responses=900, @include_event_description_in=1, 
                  @category_name = @CategoryName, 
                  @job_id=N'00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000';

-- Add a notification if it does not exist
IF NOT EXISTS(SELECT *
          FROM dbo.sysalerts AS sa
          INNER JOIN dbo.sysnotifications AS sn
          ON sa.id = sn.alert_id
          WHERE sa.name = @Error825AlertName)
    BEGIN
        EXEC msdb.dbo.sp_add_notification @alert_name = @Error825AlertName, @operator_name = @OperatorName, @notification_method = 1;
    END
GO