An introduction to ApexSQL BI Monitor

This video shows how to add a service for monitoring, how to create custom metrics, how to handle alerts and how to create reports, and a few more things to get started using ApexSQL BI Monitor.


Hello and welcome to this ApexSQL BI Monitor general overview video. ApexSQL BI Monitor is a webbased, agentless tool designed for monitoring SQL Server BI services such as Integration Services, Analysis Services, and Reporting Services.

The high-level features list of ApexSQL BI Monitor includes:

  • Historical data and resource relationships for BI services tuning
  • The ability to drill down to collected data for precise analysis
  • Alerting based on defined thresholds and baseline calculations
  • Reporting on collected data
  • Metric information and tuning advice
  • Overhead below 1% due to an agentless architecture

To get started, let’s add a service for monitoring by clicking the Add services link in the main menu, choosing a type and providing credentials:

The central component of ApexSQL BI Monitor is the Services explorer pane that allows fast and easy navigation among monitored BI services and groups

Click on the ellipse button to configure the service explorer view. The list of monitored services can be filtered using the alert severity or state. Monitored services can also be sorted by alert severity or alphabetically.

Clicking on the Home link in the main menu displays the main application dashboard including all previously filtered services:

This dashboard includes essential information about each service such as availability and alerts triggered for each of these and the severity of those alerts.

Changing credentials, disabling or removing a service from the monitoring process can be achieved using the ellipse button in the panel that opens the drop-down menu:

Selecting the specific service reveals more details via the service dashboard. That includes more granular information on alerts number and severity for the selected BI service as per the service performance metric category:

Also, additional details about the operating system, system availability and additional CPU information is shown in the lower part of the page:

By clicking the System category details for example, predefined metrics such as Available megabytes of memory and average bytes per read will be shown by default:

By clicking the Details link for any other monitored category, performance metrics charts are displayed for that category:

Each diagram has the ability to zoom; sliders below each diagram can be used to narrow down the period for which the diagram will be shown. This results in spreading the specific part of the diagram across the entire diagram area, which allows displaying more details and providing the ability for closer inspection:

Besides built-in performance metrics, more metrics can be created and added for monitoring in the Custom metrics configuration page. Metrics from the appropriate category that are selected from the category drop-down list will be created and added for monitoring as any other built-in metric. For any new custom metric, it is possible to initially set the metric unit as well as threshold values for low, medium and high alerts, and the alert period:

Alerts raised during the monitoring can be reviewed and resolved. To review alerts, click the Alerts link in the main menu. What alerts are displayed here depends on what is selected in the service explorer pane:

The Alerts tab shows a table of alerts triggered in last 24 hours, by default, and grouped by date in decreasing order. Sorting and ordering can be managed through the grouping area, just by dragging a column header into the grouping area, while the order can be changed in a table itself, or in the grouping area by clicking the column name

The number of alerts for each severity is displayed next to the filter checkboxes. Select or unselect those checkboxes to turn off displaying of alerts with unwanted severity

Multiple alerts can be resolved just by selecting alerts in a table and clicking the Resolve button:

Based on the collected data, the user can generate a pdf report with all the necessary information for the specified time range. Under the Reports tab, there is a list of predefined reports grouped in categories. These reports allow selecting of various parameters to allow more precise reporting:

However, if the specific report that is not available out-of-the-box, such a report can be created from scratch. Click on the Add custom report button opens a custom reports page where one by one item that will be included in a report can be added:

Metrics can be configured precisely for each BI service or group of services in the metric configuration page, depending on what is selected in the service explorer pane

The metric tab allows configuration of specified alert thresholds for each metric including the alert period. Here the choice can be made whether the alerting is based on predefined threshold values or the calculated baseline. Alerting can be disabled for specific metrics or disabled entirely.

To calculate a baseline, switch to the Baseline tab, check the appropriate metrics, select the time range and click the Calculate button:

To manage devices that will be monitored, there is the Devices tab. Here it is possible to include or exclude specific devices from monitoring by selecting or unselecting the check-box next to each:

Under the Maintenance tab, monitoring or alerts can be disabled during the specified maintenance period. Depending on the user needs, either the monitoring process can be disabled entirely, or just suppressed from triggering alerts

When an alert is raised, appropriate actions can be initiated. That can be configured in the Alert actions tab:

When the alert is triggered, the following actions can be performed: send an email, send an SNMP trap message or execute a specific command. Multiple alert actions can be created at this point.

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