Custom SQL Server metrics for detailed monitoring
We’ve shown in Part 3 of this series how Datadog can help you monitor your SQL Server databases within the context of your application. In this post, we’ll show you how to go one step further by collecting custom SQL Server metrics that let you choose the exact functionality you want to monitor and improve. You can configure the Agent to collect custom metrics and report them every time it runs its built-in SQL Server check.
We’ll show you three ways to collect and monitor custom metrics:
- Specifying performance counters beyond those the SQL Server integration queries by default
- Executing a user-defined stored procedure
- Using the Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) integration
Custom Datadog metrics with the performance counters view
Although the Agent already collects a number of important metrics from the performance counters dynamic management view, you might be interested in monitoring additional performance objects such as page lookups per second, log flushes per second, or queued requests. You can see a list of all the performance counters you can monitor by running the following query:
SELECT counter_name, instance_name, cntr_value FROM sys.dm_os_performance_counters;
You’ll see something resembling the following:
counter_name instance_name cntr_value -------------------------------------------------------- Page lookups/sec 30617439 Log Flushes/sec tempdb 5664 Log Flushes/sec model 7 Log Flushes/sec demo_db 15152 Queued requests internal 0
To collect metrics automatically from specific performance counters, edit the SQL Server configuration file, which the Agent looks for within C:\ProgramData\Datadog\conf.d\sqlserver.d. Create an entry under
custom_metrics for each metric you want to collect. For example, we can collect the metrics “Page lookups/sec,” “Queued Requests,” and “Log Flushes/sec,” plus “Index Searches/sec,” by adding the configuration below:
# ... custom_metrics: - name: sqlserver.buffer.page_lookups counter_name: Page lookups/sec - name: sqlserver.workload.queued_requests counter_name: Queued Requests instance_name: internal - name: sqlserver.databases.log_flushes counter_name: Log Flushes/sec instance_name: ALL tag_by: db - name: sqlserver.index_searches counter_name: Index Searches/sec # ...
For each entry, you must specify values for
name value will be the name of the metric as you want it to appear in Datadog, whereas the
counter_name maps to the
counter_name column of
sys.dm_os_performance_counters. In the case of “Page lookups/sec,” the configuration above will cause the metric to appear in Datadog as
Some performance objects are associated with multiple instances within SQL Server, and you can identify these with the
instance_name column of
sys.dm_os_performance_counters. You’ll want to check the documentation for the performance objects you’re interested in to see what
instance_name means in that context. In our example above,
Log Flushes/sec is a counter within the object
SQLServer:Databases. There’s a separate instance of the object (and its counters) for each database. The resource pool performance object has a separate instance for each resource pool. Other performance objects, like the Buffer Manager object where you’ll find
Page lookups/sec, always have a single instance.
If a performance counter has multiple instances, you have two options for sending metrics to Datadog. One is to collect metrics from a single instance, by specifying
instance_name in the
custom_metrics section. In our example above, we’ve edited the item for
Queued Requests to gather metrics only from the
If you want to collect metrics associated with every instance, set the value of
ALL. Then add a
tag_by line, which creates a key-value tag pair for each instance of a performance counter. If the metric
Log Flushes/sec is reported for instances
demo_db, for example, a
tag_by prefix of
db will create the tags
db:demo_db. While you can name the prefix anything you’d like, you may want to name it after the object that each instance represents (a database, a resource pool, etc.).
After restarting the Agent, you’ll be able to add your custom metrics to dashboards and alerts, just like any other metric in Datadog. Below, we’re graphing the custom metric
sqlserver.index_searches, which we’ve named from the counter
Index Searches/sec within the
Access Methods performance object (see above).
Custom Datadog metrics from stored procedures
While metrics from the performance counters view are useful for gauging the health and performance of your databases, you can use SQL Server’s wealth of views, stored procedures, and functions to gain even more insights. For example, you may want to keep track of the size of specific tables in disk and memory—valuable data that is not available as a performance counter.
To create and monitor your own custom metrics, you will need to:
- Create a stored procedure that returns a temporary table with the metrics you want to report.
- Edit the configuration file for the SQL Server integration and include an entry for the stored procedure you’ve created.
The Agent will then execute the stored procedure every few seconds and send the results to Datadog.
In the example that follows, we’ll query metrics for a database’s disk usage with the stored procedure
sp_spaceused (available since SQL Server 2012). We’ll wrap our call to
sp_spaceused within a stored procedure that returns results in a format Datadog can parse into three metrics: the size on disk of the data within the database, the size of indexes, and the total size of data and transaction logs. This is just one example of the many ways in which you can use stored procedures to report custom metrics to Datadog.
Create a stored procedure to generate and collect metrics
A stored procedure for reporting custom metrics can use any T-SQL queries you’d like, as long as it culminates in a table with a certain structure. As you’ll see in the SQL Server integration’s example YAML file, the Agent expects custom metrics from a stored procedure to take the form of a temporary table called
#Datadog. The table must have the following columns:
metric: the name of the metric as it appears in Datadog
type: the metric type: gauge, rate, or count (see our documentation on metric types)
value: the value of the metric
tags: the tags that will appear in Datadog. You can specify any number of tags, separating them with a comma, e.g.,
In this case, we’ve create a stored procedure named
GetDiskMetrics. This stored procedure begins by executing
sp_spaceused and inserting the results into a temporary table. This allows us to select specific metrics from the results.
sp_spaceused returns strings of numbers and their units, stating
data in kilobytes (e.g.,
1528 KB), and
database_size in megabytes (e.g.,
80 MB). We’ll declare a function that removes the units, converts the strings into floats, and stores the results in the table
When writing your own stored procedure, make sure that the values you’re storing in the table
#Datadog are convertible to floats. SQL Server will attempt to convert certain data types automatically, but for other types it will throw an error (see this chart for a breakdown of what SQL Server can convert). For example, the
ExtractFloat function below returns a string that SQL Server will convert to a float before inserting.
USE [<database name>]; GO -- Remove units from the results of sp_spaceused CREATE FUNCTION [dbo].[ExtractFloat] ( @StringWithFloat nvarchar(50) ) RETURNS float BEGIN RETURN (SELECT SUBSTRING( @StringWithFloat, 0, (select PATINDEX('% %', (@StringWithFloat))) )) END GO -- Create a stored procedure with the name GetDiskMetrics CREATE PROCEDURE [dbo].[GetDiskMetrics] AS BEGIN -- Remove row counts from result sets SET NOCOUNT ON; -- Create a temporary table per integration instructions CREATE TABLE #Datadog ( [metric] VARCHAR(255) NOT NULL, [type] VARCHAR(50) NOT NULL, [value] FLOAT NOT NULL, [tags] VARCHAR(255) ); -- Declare a temporary table to store the results of sp_spaceused DECLARE @disk_use_table table( database_name varchar(128), database_size varchar(18), unallocated_space varchar(18), reserved varchar(18), data varchar(18), index_size varchar(18), unused varchar(18) ); INSERT INTO @disk_use_table EXEC sp_spaceused @oneresultset=1; -- Remove the units from our custom metrics and insert them into the table #Datadog INSERT INTO #Datadog(metric, type, value, tags) VALUES ('sqlserver.disk.database_size_mb', 'gauge', (SELECT dbo.ExtractFloat((SELECT [database_size] FROM @disk_use_table))), 'db:master,role:primary'), ('sqlserver.disk.index_size_kb', 'gauge', (SELECT dbo.ExtractFloat((SELECT [index_size] FROM @disk_use_table))), 'db:master,role:primary'), ('sqlserver.disk.data_size_kb', 'gauge', (SELECT dbo.ExtractFloat((SELECT [data] FROM @disk_use_table))), 'db:master,role:primary'); -- Return the table SELECT * FROM #Datadog; END
The stored procedure outputs three custom metrics:
sqlserver.disk.database_size_mb: Size of the database, including both data and transaction log files
sqlserver.disk.index_size_kb: Size of all indexes used by the database
sqlserver.disk.data_size_kb: Size of all data within the database
The metrics will be tagged automatically with the values of the
tags column in the table
#Datadog, in this case
db:master. We’re also collecting each custom metric as a gauge, which reports the current value of a metric at each check. See our documentation for more details about Datadog’s metric types, gauges, rates, and counts.
The code above declares the stored procedure
GetDiskMetrics and the function
ExtractFloat. Before you configure Datadog to call
GetDiskMetrics, you may want to make sure it’s been declared successfully within SQL Server. You can run this query to verify that you’ve added the stored procedure.
SELECT name FROM sys.procedures WHERE name = "GetDiskMetrics";
The output should resemble the following.
name -------------- GetDiskMetrics
Configure the Datadog Agent to execute the stored procedure
Next, configure the Agent to execute the stored procedure created above, which reports custom metrics to Datadog. You’ll need to edit the existing
host section of the SQL Server integration’s YAML file (located within C:\ProgramData\Datadog\conf.d\sqlserver.d) to specify the name of the stored procedure the Agent will call, plus the name of the
database the Agent will use when calling it.
# ... - host: 127.0.0.1,1433 username: datadog password: <password> stored_procedure: GetDiskMetrics database: master # ...
There are three caveats to note about using stored procedures for custom metrics. First, you can specify the
connector, the interface between the Agent and SQL Server, in the integration’s YAML file. If you plan to specify
odbc as the connector, rather than the default of
adodbapi, you will not able to collect custom metrics with a stored procedure. Second, since the Agent will be running the stored procedure with every check, obtaining custom metrics this way will cause SQL Server to consume more resources. Third, the custom metrics you report to the table
#Datadog are subject to the same limits as any other custom metric in Datadog. Consult our documentation for details.
Custom Datadog metrics from Windows Management Instrumentation
If you’re running SQL Server on Windows, you can also collect custom metrics by using Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI). WMI is a core feature of the Microsoft Windows operating system that allows applications to broadcast and receive data. Applications commonly use WMI to communicate information about resources, such as drivers, disks, or processes, including SQL Server. Datadog’s WMI integration can monitor the hundreds of WMI classes you’ll find in a Windows environment, making this is a convenient way to add custom metrics for SQL Server.
To configure the Agent to send metrics from WMI, you’ll need to edit the WMI integration’s configuration file. Under
instances, list the names of the WMI classes from which you want to gather metrics. Under the item for each class, you’ll list metrics as arrays with three elements: the name of a property of the WMI class, the name of the metric you’d like to report to Datadog, and the metric type.
You can collect the number of failed SQL Server jobs with the following configuration, for example:
instances: - class: Win32_PerfRawData_SQLSERVERAGENT_SQLAgentJobs metrics: - [Failedjobs, sqlserver.jobs.failed_jobs, gauge] # ...
Then enable the WMI integration by restarting the Agent.
Click here to see all of the WMI classes that report data from SQL Server.
SQL Server metrics for tailored monitoring
In this series, we’ve surveyed metrics that can expose SQL Server’s core functionality, and have shown you how to use a number of monitoring tools to get real-time views and detailed reports. We’ve demonstrated how you can combine live observation and on-demand insights by adding distributed tracing and log management, all with Datadog.
With custom metrics, it’s possible to monitor every metric SQL Server collects internally, and to use this as a basis for optimizing your databases. With Datadog, you can correlate these metrics with others from SQL Server and the rest of your stack, making it clear where performance issues are originating or where you should focus your optimization efforts.
If you are not using Datadog and want to gain visiblity into the health and performance of SQL Server and more than 350 other supported technologies, you can get started by signing up for a 14-day free trial.