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How the SQL Server Utility can make solutions providers money

For customers hesitant to upgrade to SQL Server 2008 R2, the SQL Server Utility may be the remedy. Learn how to use the tool and explain to your customers how it can save them on management costs.

As a channel reseller, you probably have some customers with large SQL Server deployments that have become challenging...

to manage as they have grown.

A new tool within SQL Server 2008 R2 called the SQL Server Utility makes managing large SQL Server deployments easier. Although Microsoft has always provided the tools necessary to effectively manage SQL Server, these tools were designed to manage individual SQL Server instances and can be inefficient for customers that use more than a few SQL Server instances. 

The SQL Server Utility may be a good reason for customers to upgrade to SQL Server 2008 R2 because it allows you to manage up to 25 instances of SQL Server 2008 R2 from a single Utility Control Point, saving customers management costs.

Where Utility Control Point fits into the SQL Server Utility
You must create a Utility Control Point before you can use the SQL Server Utility. The Utility Control Point acts as a repository for configuration and management data related to the SQL Server instances that you are managing.

  • To create a Utility Control Point, simply launch the SQL Server Utility and choose the Utility Explorer command from the View menu. On the Utility Configuration Steps screen, click on the “Create a Utility Control Point” option and Windows will launch the Wizard.
  • Click “Next” to bypass the Wizard’s welcome screen and then provide a name for the Utility Control Point. You will need to specify the name of a SQL Server instance where the Utility Control Point will reside.
  • After providing this information, click “Next.” Then provide the credentials for an account that can run the utility collector set. This account will be used to gather performance and configuration information from the managed SQL Server instances.  Solution providers can use the SQL Server Agent account instead.
  • The Wizard’s Instance Validation screen runs several tests to make sure that the instance that you have chosen is suitable for use with a Utility Control Point. Once the tests are complete, click “Next.” A summary of the configuration options that you have chosen will display. After verifying that everything is correct, click “Next” to create the Utility Control Point and click “Finish.”  

Where to enroll SQL Server instances
Now that the Wizard is complete, you will be taken to Utility Explorer Content dashboard, which you will use to monitor resource consumption for managed SQL Server instances. The SQL Server Utility displays this dashboard because when you create the Utility Control Point, it is also the first managed SQL Server instance. You can begin to manage other SQL Server instances by enrolling them.

To enroll a SQL Server Instance, go back to the SQL Server Management Studio and navigate through the console tree to the Managed Instances node. Right click on this node and select the Enroll Instance command from the resulting shortcut menu and Windows will launch the Enroll Instance Wizard.

After bypassing the Welcome screen, click the Connect button and the Wizard will allow you to specify your chosen SQL Server instance.

You need to provide a set of credentials that can be used to establish a connection to the instance that you want to enroll. Alternatively, you can also use the SQL Server Agent service account.

Once you’ve provided the required credentials, click “Next,” and you will be taken to an instance validation screen similar to the one mentioned above. Once your instance has passed all of the validation tests, you will see the enrollment data summary. Assuming this data is correct, click “Next” to perform the enrollment and click “Finish.”

 Creating a Utility Control Point and enrolling SQL Server instances into it can be a great business opportunity for solution providers. Once the Utility Control Point has been set up, you can begin setting policies that will help you to manage resource consumption for the managed instances and save your customers time and money.

About the expert
Brien M. Posey, MCSE, is a six-time recipient of Microsoft's Most Valuable Professional award for his work with Exchange Server, Windows Server, Internet Information Services, file systems and storage. Posey has served as CIO for a nationwide chain of hospitals and was once responsible for the Department of Information Management at Fort Knox. As a freelance technical writer, he has written for Microsoft, TechTarget, MSD2D, Relevant Technologies and other technology companies. You can visit Posey's website at www.brienposey.com.

This was last published in March 2011

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