Microsoft Windows server operating systems offer the System Monitor graphical tool (formerly known as Performance Monitor [PerfMon]) to measure the performance of all aspects of the server. You can use System Monitor to view SQL Server and other applications from a coarse perspective, looking at events from a high level. You can view SQL Server objects and performance counters by using the System Monitor tool. You can also use it to gather information pertaining to the behavior of processors, memory, cache, and other object resources on the server.
Each object you monitor by using System Monitor has an associated set of counters. These counters are put in place when software is installed in the Windows environment. You can use them to measure aspects of an object, such as device usage, queue lengths, delays, and other factors. In general, when looking at information on how the server as a whole is operating and how application are performing in respect to the server's performance, the System Monitor provides you with optimum benefits.
When you install SQL Server and its related components, several sets of counters are placed in the environment and made available for monitoring. The general list of objects available to be monitored depends on which SQL components have been installed. The following prefixes identify the objects you can monitor in SQL Server:
Each of the software categories has several related objects, and within each object is a set of one or more counters. Depending on the information you want to gather, you need to select the objects in the software prefix you are looking for and then select one or more counters from that object's list. Each of the software categories has some counters that may be of interest.
Although we could easily spend several chapters going over this one utility, there is no need for that level of coverage on System Monitor for the 70-431 exam. You need to be familiar with a few of the counters; Table 7.1 lists the most important of them.
On Microsoft exams, always be on the lookout for misleading answers. You will find it easiest to answer some of the performance-related questions if you first eliminate the obviously incorrect responses. For example, you should not select any counters that don't deal with the product being monitored. The 70-431 exam is not an operating system exam, so you don't need to know about every counter available.
As you begin any of these processes, you need to begin with the hardware and operating system and then proceed into the application server. As you get further into data gathering and analysis, you should look into each database and the interactions between the data and the user applications. To view SQL Server tasks in detail, after the initial data-gathering processes, you use the SQL Server Profiler to develop a more complete picture.