Quest Discovery Wizard for SQL Server is a free program that goes through your network and your Active Directory looking for SQL Servers. It discovers things about the server, like what databases are on it, what applications are connected, what version numbers it has, and so on. Version 2.0 just came out today.
I wish I’d have known about this product when I started working at a new job as a DBA. It searches your environment, discovers all of the SQL Server instances in your environment, and gives you information about what’s going on inside those servers.
If I’d have known about it, it would have been the first product I ran when I walked into a shop. Nobody ever has a good handle on every server in the house, and things change rapidly – SQL Server sprawls like crazy. Seems like we only find out about them when a user drops a database and they want to restore from a backup – but since we never knew about the instance, there’s no backups. Whoops. Bad first impression.
Killer Potential, Minimal Resources
When I visited Russia last year and talked to Andrey Kviatkovsky, the development manager for a lot of our stuff, I spent a lot of time jumping up and down in front of a whiteboard, drawing all kinds of crazy ideas about what I wanted Discovery Wizard to do. Being a free product, though, it didn’t have a lot of development resources allocated to it, so we couldn’t make much headway.
We didn’t have any marketing resources for it either, so as a result, most of you never heard of this product. (Heck, I didn’t hear about it before I started with Quest.) If you search the web for it right now, you might run across the Discovery Wizard user community on Quest.com. However, it’s not exactly a friendly web site, and it pales in comparison to the web presence for the similarly free Toad for MySQL.
I didn’t forget about it when I left Russia, and it’s been bubbling away at the back of my mind for months. I’ve had conversation after conversation with our development guys, product management, and marketing, talking about all the cool things we could build into this with a minimum of development effort. Database administrators have a ton of pain points that we could solve with just one good community-oriented tool, and I believe that Discovery Wizard (or DiscoWhiz, as I affectionately call it) could be that tool.
Quest Listened and Invested Resources
At the risk of sounding like somebody who’s been drinking a little too much of the Kool-Aid, I shouldn’t have been surprised that we got our wish for more resources.
Quest takes the whole community idea pretty seriously, as evidenced by some of the stuff they put money and resources into:
- Toad for MySQL Freeware – folks who like to develop against the free database can use a killer free tool to do it.
- SQLServerPedia – Quest took a formerly pay-to-play product, KnowledgeXpert, and put all of the content into an open wiki for anybody to use and improve.
- PowerGUI – long before PowerShell started catching on, Quest dedicated full-time employees to building this free tool for PowerShell developers and even built a web community around it.
- Guys like Kevin Kline and Joel Oleson – Quest hires some of the best and brightest experts in their fields and puts them to work in the community helping other people.
And now we’re going to turn Discovery Wizard into a tool that I am absolutely convinced will be a vital tool in your arsenal when the next release comes out. You’re not going to believe you ever got by without it.
If I’m wrong, I’m only going to have myself to blame, because those wackos put me in charge of working with Andrey and the developer to flesh out the requirements, do the testing, and deliver this baby.
That’s Where You Come In
That’s where you come in, dear readers: to act as my scapego – wait, I mean, sounding board. Over the coming weeks, I’m going to blog about:
- The features I want to get into Discovery Wizard 3.0
- The development and marketing process for free software
- Where we’ll need to compromise to get it out the door – as the quote goes, “Shipping is a feature too.”
- How the community will be able to take this thing and run with it
For now, you can check out Discovery Wizard 2.0. If you run into issues, post them in the Discovery Wizard community: they’ll either be answered by me, or by the support and development staff at Quest.