2019-08-08 by Phil Grayson
Aireforge Studio Community Edition
It's no secret that the SQL Server community is one of the best technical communities going. The amount of free content out there is amazing, from great blogs on almost every feature available, to direct access to experts via #sqlhelp on Twitter, or on the SQL Server Community Slack channel (join here) and the free events like SQLBits and SQLSaturday.
There's also loads of great free scripts and programs out there like sp_whoisactive, Ola's maintenance scripts and the awesome dbatools project, and now there's another free tool to add to your armoury; Aireforge Studio Community Edition.
Free & Unlimited
Our instance comparison tool, Compare, and our multi-server scripting tool, Script, have always been free; but limited to 2 instances of SQL Server. Starting with v.1.1.7, this limit was lifted, so you can now use it against an unlimited number of SQL Server or Azure SQL Database instances. Since then we've also added, Estate, our RDP / SSMS manager and Checks, our lightweight health check module; both are also free and unlimited.
Organise servers into tags, colour code them, change the columns on the overview and even launch Remote Desktop Manager (RDP) and SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS). Any changes here will be instantly propagated out to your colleagues, if you're using a shared profile. This is especially useful for servers with complex names or when ensuring that all members of the team share a single view of the estate, using tags, notes and colours to reinforce the purpose of each server.
A lightweight health check module that can analyse hundreds of servers in minutes, or seconds if you choose individual checks over the full scan. The default health checks are designed to find the most common and most worrying issues, but it's also possible to create your own custom health checks.
Compare (inc. CLI)
The original instance comparison tool and obviously the best, starting life as OmniCompare in 2015. Now Aireforge Compare, it's able to quickly scan and display the differences between hundreds of servers.
Most users will only compare two or three instances, but we wrote this to maintain large replication environments, where every subscriber needs to be perfectly synchronised with each other. Another great use case is synchronising availability groups, especially agent jobs and users.
Compare currently ships with 45 checks, each one customised for specific versions of SQL Server. Like health checks, you can even create your own custom comparisons.
Snapshots enable you to create a point in time record of the instance, which can then be shared with colleagues or saved for reference purposes. Use cases include: attaching the snapshot to health checks, performance reviews or with each release, creating a record of the state before and after.
Four ways to use instance snapshots
Yes, it hasn't been renamed yet but the OmniCompare CLI enables developers to automate the comparison within Aireforge Compare. Add a check for server objects into your deployments scripts or automate a comparison against a snapshot, highlighting any unexpected configuration changes.
The Microsoft Central Management Servers (CMS) and Remote Desktop Manager are great, but they're lacking functionality and haven't had much attention in recent years or are no longer maintained. So, given that Aireforge users already have their estates loaded into their profiles (which can be shared), we thought it made sense to build a scripting module into Aireforge Studio too.
Advisor (free trial)
This module isn't free, so we won't talk about it for too long, but you get a free 14 day trial of it with Community Edition. Basically, it's an advanced health check and best practice analyser which not only gives you the scripts to fix your issues, but also points you to some of the great articles that we talked about at the start of the blog. This not only increases your knowledge but helps to make a more informed decision about the changes the application recommends.
Photo by William White on Unsplash