Configuring the Native Exchange 2007 MP for OpsMgr 2007 R2 (Part 1)

If you would like to read the other parts in this article series please go to:

Introduction

Waves of joy were felt by all the Messaging Administrator throughout the World when the native Exchange Server 2007 Management Pack (MP) was released in June 2009. Until then, the existing MP for Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 was more or less a disappointment since some of its functionality had been lost in the conversion processes, when compared to its predecessor known as Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM) 2005.

Since I dedicated a series of articles to the subject; Monitoring Exchange 2007 With System Center Operations Manager 2007, I decided to write this one where I will uncover the new features of the native MP, as well as the differences in the installation and configuration process.

Here are some of the key enhancements of this MP over its predecessors:

  • Template (wizard style) for configuring Client Access server synthetic transactions against Outlook Web Access (OWA), Exchange ActiveSync, Web Services, POP3, and IMAP.
  • Template (wizard style) for configuring Exchange 2007 Intra-organizational mail flow synthetic transactions between agent-managed Exchange 2007 Mailbox servers.
  • New set of reports specific to Exchange 2007. Enhanced object search and filtering so that the report search feature automatically searches for the objects that the report expects.
  • The management pack improves Exchange disk monitoring by providing support for mount points and by discovering three types of disks: Database (on the Mailbox server role), Log (on the Mailbox server role), and Queue (on the Hub and Edge server roles).
  • A significant number of rules, monitors and performance collection rules that are not actionable or may be noisy are disabled (60% reduction in noise-based alerts). Note that many of these rules are still in the management pack so that you can enable them if necessary.
  • Support for monitoring multiple Exchange organizations using a single Operations Manager 2007 management group.
  • Full support for clustered configurations using Windows Clustering technology.
  • Improved low-privilege support. This management pack supports installing the agent with the minimum rights required by the Operations Manager agent.
  • Additional and improved tasks that simplify troubleshooting and reduce the amount of time to resolve alerts.
  • Improved topology discovery.
  • Improved synthetic transactions. This management pack improves the performance and support for the Exchange 2007 synthetic transactions in several ways:
    o  The management pack supports a number of mail flow transaction types, including local, intra-site, inter-site, cross-organization, and Internet.
    o  The management pack supports running the following Exchange 2007 synthetic transactions:
    Test-Mailflow
    Test-SystemHealth
    Test-OwaConnectivity
    Test-ActiveSyncConnectivity
    Test-WebServicesConnectivity
    Test-PopConnectivity
    Test-ImapConnectivity
    Test-MapiConnectivity
    Test-UMConnectivity
    Test-ExchangeSearch
    Test-ReplicationHealth
  • The discovery of Exchange 2007 server roles is disabled by default and minimal Exchange 2007 monitoring is applied. This allows you to discover and monitor your servers gradually, as well as tune the management pack as you bring more agent-managed Exchange 2007 servers into the Operations Manager environment.













The following table provides an overview of the Exchange Server 2007 MP monitoring functionality that is enabled through Operations Manager 2007 R2:

Exchange component

Monitoring functionality

Exchange Client Access

  • ActiveSync and OWA connectivity monitoring including synthetic transactions

  • Performance measuring and alerting

Exchange Edge Transport

  • Performance measuring and alerting

Exchange Hub Transport

  • Performance measuring and alerting

Exchange Mailbox

  • Information Store monitoring

  • Mail flow and MAPI connectivity monitoring

  • Performance measuring and alerting

Exchange Unified Messaging

  • Unified Messaging connectivity monitoring including synthetic transactions

  • Performance measuring and alerting

Configuration and Security

  • Exchange best practices (ExBPA)

Exchange Event Log monitoring

  • Comprehensive rules for Exchange

  • Detailed product knowledge about events

Table 1: Exchange 2007 MP monitoring functionalities

Solution Topology

For the purpose of writing this article, I installed the following environment on my test lab:

One thing to notice is that all the machines (virtualized on Hyper-V) are now 64-bit, since this architecture is fully supported by OpsMgr 2007 R2.

Name

Role

Architecture

Software

OPSMGR2K7R2

Root Management Server

X64

Windows Server 2008 R2

System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2

E2K7-x64

Domain Controller

Mailbox Server

CAS Server

HUB Transport Server

x64

Windows Server 2008 SP2

Exchange Server 2007 SP2

E2K7-MBX2

Mailbox Server

Unified Messaging

SCR Target

X64

Windows Server 2008 SP2

Exchange Server 2007 SP2

E2K7EDGE

Edge Server

x64

Windows Server 2003 R2 SP2

Exchange Server 2007 SP1 + UR9

Table 2: List of servers

Exchange 2007 Management Pack Pre-Requisites and Considerations

There are no special requirements for the new native Exchange 2007 MP, nevertheless I’d like to mention the following system requirements:

  • This MP is for System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2 and will not run on any previous version, such as Operations Manager 207 SP1.

  • Install Windows PowerShell and the Operations Console on your root management server. This is required because the Exchange Server 2007 Management Pack workflows require Windows PowerShell to run successfully.

  • Exchange Server 2007 Service Pack 1 is required (mainly because some performance counters were renamed with this release).

  • 64-bit platforms only!

There are some limitations and considerations that you should be aware of:

  • The maximum tested number of simultaneous synthetic transactions on an agent-monitored Exchange server is 15. Running synthetic transactions too frequently can generate a heavy load on the Mailbox or Client Access servers. Additionally it is possible for incorrect availability to be calculated if the transactions are run too frequently (more frequently than every 5 minutes is not recommended).

  • This management pack does not monitor Network Load Balanced clusters that you may have set up for the Exchange 2007 Client Access server role, Hub Transport server role, or Edge Transport server role.

  • This management pack does not support third-party cluster technology.

  • This management pack does not support agentless monitoring.

  • This new Exchange Server 2007 MP for OpsMgr 2007 R2 does not support an upgrade from the previously released, converted Exchange Server 2007 Management Pack. Running both management packs in parallel is a supported scenario, but not recommended.

  • Increase the size of the Windows PowerShell Event Log on managed Exchange 2007 servers running on Windows Server 2003 (default size is 512 KB as depicted on Figure 1). Configure the size of the event logs on the local server and the Overwrite property to avoid error conditions resulting from the increase in events due to running synthetic transactions (Figure 2).


Figure 1: PowerShell Event Log Properties


Figure 2:
PowerShell Log full

Installation and Configuration Procedures

There will be 11 steps covered in this article in order to install and fully configure the Exchange Server 2007 MP for the environment previously described. Although some of the steps are optional, I’m pretty sure these are the most common in a typical organization:

  1. Install the Operations Manager agent on all Exchange 2007 servers you want to manage, and enable agent proxy.
    1.1. Install the agent manually on Edge Server.

  2. Create a new management pack in which you store overrides and other customizations.

  3. Download and import the native Exchange 2007 MP and also recommended additional management packs.

  4. Enable Exchange 2007 Server Role discoveries to discover Exchange 2007 servers and to start monitoring them.

  5. Configure disk monitoring.

  6. Configure Internet Information Services (IIS) Monitoring.

  7. Assign Edge servers to a particular organization and site.

  8. Configure synthetic transactions.
    8.1. Configure intra-organization mail flow.
    8.2. Configure inter-organization mail flow.
    8.3. Configure Client Access server synthetic transactions.

  9. Configure the Log Shipping Replay Queue Length Monitor for SCR and CCR Scenarios.

  10. Enable Remote Unified Messaging Connectivity Monitoring.

  11. Adjust the Best Time to Run Report Data Collection Scripts / Resource-Intensive Rules and Monitors.

Summary

This concludes part 1 of this 6-part article. In the next part we’ll cover the first 3 steps of the previously mentioned installation and configuration process.

If you would like to read the other parts in this article series please go to:

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