Finding the Right Database Monitoring Software for Your Needs

In an era of digital transformation, applications are critical for engaging customers and driving competitive advantage. The databases underpinning these applications contain the valuable information that powers key business processes and insights. Any degradation in database performance directly impacts application availability, response times and overall quality of service for end users.

Industry analysts estimate that a single hour of database downtime can cost up to $300,000 across lost revenue and productivity. With the high cost of downtime in mind, proactive database monitoring is no longer an optional nice-to-have but rather a mandatory component of managing business-critical applications.

This comprehensive guide will explore the database monitoring landscape to help technical leaders evaluate solutions suited to their environment. It covers:

  • Key capabilities offered by monitoring tools
  • Technical and economic comparison of leading products
  • Best practices for selection and implementation
  • Real-world scenarios showcasing the ROI of database surveillance

So let‘s get started!

Why You Must Monitor Database Performance

Developing high-quality applications that delight customers requires consistently high database performance and availability. Some key metrics that characterize well-tuned databases include:

Query response times: Well designed databases return results for transactional queries within milliseconds, analytical queries within seconds. Any degradation directly impacts user productivity.

Throughput: Transactional databases should support hundreds to thousands of reads/writes per second to avoid bottlenecks. Batch databases require high throughput to quickly process large volumes of data.

Concurrency: Databases must accommodate spikes in concurrent sessions and queries without slowing down response times. Limits on concurrency translate to errors experienced by end users.

Availability: Applications can only function effectively if the underlying databases have uptimes exceeding 99.95%. Even small amounts of downtime result in revenue losses.

Scalability: As data volumes and user bases grow over time, databases must scale up transparently without performance degradation. Lack of scalability will constrain application growth.

Monitoring tools play a pivotal role by providing real-time visibility and historical analytics around all the above metrics for on-premise, cloud and hybrid databases. Leading platforms offer advanced capabilities like:

  • Dashboards with health indicators and response time tracking
  • Alerting based on custom thresholds for metrics like CPU usage
  • Tracing expensive queries and transactions
  • Correlating logs with performance data
  • Automated recommendations for configuration optimization
  • Forecasting future capacity requirements

Next, let‘s do a comparative analysis of prominent monitoring solutions against the key categories of features, limitations and value.

Solarwinds Database Performance Analyzer

Solarwinds offers comprehensive monitoring for traditional RDBMS as well as modern NoSQL databases from a single pane-of-glass.

Supported Databases

  • SQL Server
  • Azure SQL
  • Oracle
  • MongoDB
  • Cassandra
  • Redis
  • MySQL
  • PostgresSQL

Standout Capabilities

  • Identification of expensive queries
  • Analysis of wait events and locks
  • Capacity planning recommendations
  • Correlation across infrastructure layers


  • Faster troubleshooting with intuitive visualizations
  • Expert-level advice for optimizing configurations
  • Tight integration with operating system and virtualization stack


  • Significant learning curve for advanced features
  • Less flexibility compared to open source tools


  • Price based on number of monitored instances
  • Free 30-day trial available

Ideal For

  • Performance management of large scale on-premise databases
  • Cross-platform enterprise deployments
  • Resolution of complex multi-layer issues

Paessler PRTG

Paessler PRTG provides unified infrastructure monitoring including auto-discovery and surveillance of databases.

Supported Databases

  • SQL Server
  • MySQL
  • PostgreSQL
  • Oracle
  • IBM DB2
  • MongoDB

Standout Capabilities

  • Automatic discovery of databases
  • Threshold-based alerts for common metrics
  • Customizable dashboards and reporting


  • Easy deployment with agentless monitoring
  • Single pane-of-glass view across infrastructure
  • Broad platform and database support


  • Limited ad-hoc query performance analysis
  • Less advanced database-specific capabilities


  • Free version supports up to 100 sensors
  • Commercial pricing based on number of sensors

Ideal For

  • Embedding database monitoring within infrastructure stack
  • Uptime monitoring and surge protection


Zabbix provides feature-rich, open source database monitoring tightly integrated with native tools.

Supported Databases

  • MySQL
  • PostgreSQL
  • MongoDB
  • Oracle
  • SQL Server

Standout Capabilities

  • Auto-discovery of unmonitored databases
  • Template-based monitoring for major DBs
  • Integration with executables like mk-query-digest
  • Customizable triggers and alerts


  • Avoid vendor lock-in as open source platform
  • Tight integration for enhanced metrics
  • Active community support


  • Steep learning curve for customization
  • Limited out-of-the-box advanced analytics


  • 100% free and open source
  • Commercial support optional

Ideal For

  • Developer-centric database monitoring
  • Extending through custom integrations
  • Budget-friendly but high effort solution

Comparative Analysis

Product Solarwinds PRTG Zabbix
Scope of Monitoring Infrastructure + Databases Infrastructure-focused Database-focused
Supported Databases SQL, NoSQL SQL primarily SQL, NoSQL
Cloud Environments On-premise, public cloud On-premise primarily On-premise primarily
Learning Curve High Low High
Custom Alerting Yes Yes Yes
Query Analytics Yes Limited Yes via add-ons
Licencing Per monitored instance Per sensor Open source

With multiple capable monitoring platforms available, ensure you evaluate options based on your specific environment and use cases:

If your priority is…

  • Simplicity and broad coverage – Choose fully SaaS solutions like Datadog or Paessler PRTG for rapid time-to-value

  • Comprehensive database analytics – Look at database specialists like Solarwinds DPA or Redgate SQL Monitor

  • Cost savings – Leverage free open source options like Zabbix despite high configuration effort

  • Cloud scale – Evaluate built-for-cloud solutions like Datadog that seamlessly integrate with platforms like AWS

  • Hybrid environments – Standardize on solutions like Solarwinds that provide unified visibility across both on-premise and cloud

Beyond picking the right tool, you need to invest in baselining normal database performance and establishing internal processes to act upon monitoring data and alerts. This includes steps like:

  • Setting thresholds for key metrics aligned to application SLAs
  • Building playbooks to respond to alerts indicating potential issues
  • Sharing reports on DB optimization opportunities with app owners
  • Tuning the databases based on performance insights
  • Continuously improving the quality and coverage of monitoring

Online Travel Agency

A leading online travel portal relied on MySQL databases to manage flight and hotel search, reservation and booking workflows. Seasonal traffic spikes during holiday periods often overwhelmed reservation systems. By leveraging PRTG for infrastructure monitoring including MySQL scale-out servers, the operations team auto-scaled database capacity based on pre-configured triggers to successfully meet 2X holiday demand.

Digital Media Portal

A fast-growing video streaming startup built on MongoDB suffered from frequent buffering and stalled video playback issues during peak evening hours. By deploying Solarwinds DPA with response time tracking and growth forecasting, the DBA team identified hot spots related to inefficient queries and inadequate cache memory. Tuning and allocating additional RAM resulted in 50% faster video starts and smoother streaming.


This guide provided a detailed analysis of leading database monitoring platforms. The transformational promise of digital initiatives relies on high-performing databases to engage customers and users through responsive applications. Monitoring tools that offer comprehensive visibility, diagnostics and analytics are invaluable for managing database SLAs as data and demand grows. Organizations should evaluate options based on their environment, use cases and data infrastructure roadmap to ensure successful application delivery.