8th July 2008: Microsoft Messaging & Mobility User Group UK Gathering

Okay so Tuesday and a bunch of us headed to Microsoft’s office in Victoria to hear from Gordon McKenna talk about Managing and Monitoring Exchange using SCOM 2007.  Here are my notes from the event … hopefully its not to disjoined ;-)

So eight of us joined Gordon who is actually a Windows Management MVP. Check out the Windows Management User Group: http://wmug.co.uk/

So let the writing of the rambings being …

With MOM 2005, the product groups wrote the management pack. In some cases, this is true, especially for Exchange, but not for other applications. In SCOM, the MOM team are writing the management pack

Two types of Management Packs exist:
Converted: MOM management packs that are converted from MOM to SCOM
Native: Properly built from the ground up especially for that product

If you are using  MOM with the Exchange 2003 MP, make sure you have downloaded and installed the Exchange MP Config wizard.  This will enable you to take advantage of the MOM Synthetic Transactions.

The Synthetic Transactions, once configured, will allow you test mail flow between servers and storage groups.  Another test is MOM will perform MAPI logons to the exchange server, to track client logon information & latency.

The Exchange MP config wizard will also allow you monitor Exchange 2003 Front End services (OWA, OMA, Exchange Active Sync).

What is interesting, is that the MOM data warehouse actually has a whole load of data in it, that is not used by all the standard reports. … but you can access it, if you know how ;-)

Gordon mention the Windows Mobile Device Manager .. It has the ability to monitor Windows Mobile devices.

SCOM SP1 is really a requirement if you are thinking about installing SCOM.  SCOM provides “service/components” and not just server management of Exchange.  The Exchange 2007 Management Pack is the largest MP for SCOM.

There will be an “out of the box” connector for Remedy that is due with SCOM SP2

So, the SCOM console was kinda designed to look like outlook, which you either love or hate.  You can get the latest Exchange 2007 MP from here: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=1A83E112-8677-4E03-83C3-F1B7EBFC3A4B&displaylang=en&displaylang=en. When you download this, install it and look at the OM2007_MP_EX2007.doc.  It has a wealth of knowledge in it.

In SCOM the management packs are sealed, and the only way to make changes is to use “overrides”.  Check this out it is damm good! Gordon recommended that you always create an “override” management pack, and do any customisation to this override group. That way if an MP is upgraded you wont loose (in theory) any custom changes.

Gordon recommended creating a “Closed Alerts” view as SCOM will auto close alerts if they exceed a threshold, and then go below the threshold.  This is cool, but you might want to see them, hence the need for this view.

OWA Monitoring with SCOM doesn’t work too well, but the built in Web Application recording facility in SCOM is a better way to monitor OWA in SCOM.

Some other stuff:

  • You should run the script New-TestCasConnectivityUser.ps1 in the Exchange Server 2007 to create the test mailbox for MOM/SCOM. Run it in the Scripts folder under the Exchange Server 2007 installation directory. You will need to run  this on each mailbox server you have.
  • A Monitor rule has a “Before and After” condition.  This will set an alert (go red) and have the ability to clear (go green)
  • A Rule is as simple as picking an event
  • SCOM has 3 type of notifications: SMTP, SMS text (built in GSM interface, all you need is a GSM modem to hang off the server), IM / OCS.
  • Priority: High, Medium, Low.  Can be used to monitor the same alerts for different types of servers like production and test servers, and works well with overrides
  • Create a group for production & uat servers
  • You should create a Distribute Applications View for Exchange.
  • It is now possible to put components into maintenance mode as well as a server.  To completely put a server into maintenance mode you will still get heartbeat alerts, and need to put another two components into maintenance mode too.
  • 75% of the SCOM SDK is in the UI.  So 25% is only available via Windows Powershell.
  • Availability reporting is now out of the box and you can report on application availability.  You can also select business hours!  You can drill down in the report too!
  • The size of the Data warehouse SQL database will now be 2 thirds smaller than MOM due to the way SCOM aggregates data and only collects changes in counters.
  • With MOM the data warehouse was written to once a day.  With SCOM it is written to all the time and is up to the minute!
  • Gordon helped develop a Service Level Dashboard that can report SLA information for applications. This is coming soon!

There are some bugs in the SCOM, that are resolved with the Exchange 2007 MP Version 6.0.6278.12 and these KBs: 950853, 951979, 951380.  Basically this is all to do with the way SCOM agent interfaces with some of the exchange powershell commands causes a memory link in the SCOM agent that causes the agent to fail.

This is a handy link to a post that explains how to setup Exchange 2007 MOM Monitoring

Gordon’s Tip on the first things to do when you walk into a preinstalled SCOM environment:

  • Go into SCOM, Reporting and run “Most Common Alerts”.  This will give you the most common alerts for the last 24 hours for each management pack.

Enjoy .. Any comments or bit I have wrong, please comment

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