Monitoring Exchange 2013 with SCOM 2012 (Part 5)

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System Center Global Service Monitor

Microsoft launched, early this year, a new monitoring service that is part of the System Center family: Global Service Monitor (GSM).

System Center Global Service Monitor is a cloud service that provides a simplified way to monitor the availability of external-web-based applications from multiple locations around the world, from the perspective of the customers who use them. GSM allows you to differentiate problems related to external factors, such as Internet or network problems, from application or service problems.

Global Service Monitor is fully integrated with the Operations Manager console and lets you monitor web applications from both internal and external locations (15 locations currently available) and then report back to your management group.

Global Service Monitor is set to provide you a maximum number of tests for the two monitoring types:

  • Web Application Availability monitoring that monitors single URLs.
  • Visual Studio Web Tests monitoring that lets you run multi-step, authenticated web tests from Microsoft-provided agents in the cloud.

Since Exchange Server provides external access to email, it might be interesting to use GSM to monitor the Outlook Web App (OWA) landing page URL.

GSM is provided by Microsoft as a benefit of Software Assurance. If you have a System Center license, you can use GSM at no additional cost.

To sign up for GSM trial follow these steps:

  1. Go to the Commerce Portal and use your organizational account to sign in.
  2. On the Terms and Conditions screen (Figure 1), click I ACCEPT AND CONTINUE to begin your 3-month trial subscription.

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Figure 1:
GSM Terms and Conditions

  1. To set up your Global Service Monitor account, click GET STARTED (Figure 2). On the next screen (Figure 3) click Download to go to the System Center Global Service Monitor Management Packs page.

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Figure 2: GSM Home

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Figure 3: GSM Trial

  1. You’ll also receive a confirmation email, which includes your user ID for Global Service Monitor (Figure 4) and the link to Download and install System Center Global Service Monitor Management Packs.

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Figure 4: GSM confirmation email

Before importing and configuring the GSM Management pack, make sure you have all the prerequisites:

  • System Center Operations Manager 2012 SP1
  • The servers in the management server pool you choose for Global Service Monitor communication must have access to the Internet to communicate with the monitoring agents running in the cloud (communication with the cloud is always initiated by your on-premise management group). These agents are automatically discovered when you sign up for Global Service Monitor, you do not have to deploy them in a separate step.
  • Windows Identity Foundation must be installed on the management server that is communicating with the cloud and everywhere the Operations Manager console is installed. Windows Identity Foundation can be installed as an additional feature of Windows Server 2012 (Figure 5). After you install Windows Identity Foundation, you must restart the health service.

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Figure 5: Windows Identity Foundation

Follow these steps to configure GSM:

  1. If all the prerequisites are met, import the System Center Global Service Monitor Management Pack.
  2. In the Operations Manager console, in the navigation pane, click Administration, and then click Global Service Monitor. This is the Global Service Monitor landing page (Figure 6) that you can use as the hub for your work with Global Service Monitor. On the Global Service Monitor landing page, click Start Subscription.

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Figure 6:
Global Service Monitor Overview

  1. On the Subscription Credentials page (Figure 7), enter the user ID and organization credentials that you created when you set up your account. These credentials are unique for your management group. The last management group to use the credentials is authoritative.

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Figure 7: Subscription Credentials

  1. On the Component Configuration page (Figure 8), designate a resource pool. On a real production environment, it is best practice to define your own Global Service Monitor management pool instead of using the default All Management Servers Resource Pool. Remember that each member of the pool must have Windows Identity Foundation installed and must have Internet access. You can also use a proxy server to connect to Global Service Monitor. Select Use proxy server to connect and then specify the address of the proxy server by using this syntax: http://<proxyserveraddress>:<port>. Click Next.

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Figure 8: Component Configuration

  1. When you have confirmed your settings, click Start Subscription (Figure 9). On the Completion page (Figure 10), click Finish to close the setup wizard.

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Figure 9: Summary

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Figure 10: Completion

  1. You are now ready to use Global Service Monitor to configure tests. To configure URL tests, open the Global Service Monitor landing page. In the Operations Manager console, in the navigation pane, click Administration, click Global Service Monitor, and then click Configure Web Application Availability Tests (Figure 11). This opens the Web Application Availability Monitoring template (Figure 12). This template lets you create availability monitoring tests for one or more Web Application URLs. Select Web Application Availability Monitoring and click Next.

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Figure 11: Global Service Monitor Overview

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Figure 12: Select Monitoring Type

  1. On the General page (Figure 13), enter a friendly name and description for your test and the destination management pack. Click Next.

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Figure 13: General

  1. On the What to Monitor page (Figure 14), enter the URLs you want to monitor and click Next.

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Figure 14: What to Monitor

  1. On the Where to Monitor From page (Figure 15), select the locations from which you want the URLs monitored.
    To monitor from external locations, in the line above the External locations field, click Add, and select the external locations that you want to monitor from and add those to your list of Selected locations (Figure 16). Click OK.
    To monitor from internal locations, use the dropdown menu to select to run tests from a server agent or a resource pool. In the area above the Internal locations field, click Add and select the internal locations (server names) you want to monitor from and add those to your list of Selected locations (Figure 17). Click OK.

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Figure 15: Where to Monitor From

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Figure 16: Select external locations

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Figure 17: Select internal locations

  1. The View and Validate Tests page (Figure 18) shows a summary of all tests (external and internal) that are to be run. You can only validate a configuration of internal tests. To validate an internal test configuration, select a test and then click Run Test. If you want to change the default settings for the tests, performance data, and alerts for all tests (external and internal) created in this template, click Change Configuration (Figure 19). When you have validated your tests, click Next.

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Figure 18: View and Validate Tests

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Figure 19: Change Configuration

  1. Review the Summary page (Figure 20) to make sure that the information accurately reflects the tests that you have configured. Click Create to begin testing.

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Figure 20: Summary

You can end your subscription at any time. Go to the Global Service Monitor landing page and then click Stop Subscription. If you have lots of templates defined, deleting the external tests while you are deactivating your subscription could take 15 minutes or more.

Conclusion

Administrators need tools to observe conditions in real time and send alerts regarding monitoring the status of messaging services, taking remedial actions to minimize incidents and events, and providing trend data for optimizing messaging service performance. The latest version of the Exchange 2013 Management Pack, although much simpler than its predecessors, works together with Exchange Managed Availability to leverage System Center 2012 Operations Manager capabilities in this discipline.

Microsoft has once more introduced a new approach to monitoring Exchange systems, dropping the Correlation Engine (used with the Exchange 2010 MP) and incorporating that functionality in the Exchange Managed Availability. The Microsoft Exchange Product Group team brings all the experience acquired with managing large infrastructures with Office 365 to achieve the primary focus of this MP: reducing downtime (from user’s perspective).

Although there are some critics regarding the extreme simplicity of the current version of the management pack (the lack of specific reports is probably the major one), I think the Exchange Team deserves some credit, as the Exchange Online infrastructure within Office 365 has been running steadily above 99,9% uptime.

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If you would like to be notified of when Rui Silva releases the next part in this article series please sign up to our MSExchange.org Real Time Article Update newsletter.

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

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