11th November 2008: Microsoft Messaging & Mobility User Group UK Gathering

So 16 people made it to this month MMMUG meeting at Microsoft in Victoria for a chat on Virtualization by Clive Watson & Brett Johnson

Hyper-V runs  on Windows Server 2008 with Intel VT or AMD-V hardware.  You may need to enable virtualization in a servers BIOS and this may need to power cycle the server (a reboot may not be enough!)

  • It is possible to “hack” Hyper V so enable wireless connection
  • Windows 2008 R2, maybe able to let you change memory and disk etc when a Virtual Machine is running. 
    • R2 will also support up to 256 processor cores!
    • Will also have live migrations
  • With SP1 for Data Protection Manager, it will be Hyper-V aware
  • Hyper-V Server is a freebie (32gb memory,  4cpu’s,can’t cluster) essentially windows 2008 core, standalone
  • Microsoft Virtual Machine Manager allows you to manage your virtual and physical machines from a single pane.
    • It looks a bit like Outlook and uses Powershell behind the scenes
    • Has the ability to connect to VMware Virtual Centre
    • It uses a SQL database in the backend
      • For fault tolerance you need to look at the SQL database
    • Can do v-v and p-v
    • User roles looks like a good addition to control who can do “what” to the virtual machines
    • Self service portal is a web site for managing virtual machines
  • New NIC cards will soon be able to offload a lot of stuff from the virtual root/parent

Exchange and Virtualisation

  • The main drivers are consolidation of servers ¦ DR
  • Issue is around supportability of Exchange
    • Exchange is probably in the top 3 mission critical applications
    • Do you get the same problem on a physical server vs.. a virtual machine
      • If Yes kewl, it’s Exchange
      • If No, assumption is the interaction between Exchange and Virtualisation layer
    • Microsoft can “fix! it’s virtualisation technology, but not 3rd parties
      • SVVP (Server Virtualisation Validation Program)
        • VMware ESX 3.5 Update 2 has been added

The only supported version of Exchange in a virtualised environment is Exchange 2007 SP1 running on Windows 2008.

  • Microsoft now have an agreement with VMware to help troubleshoot virtualisation issues

With virtualising Exchange we need to understand:

  • Virtual parent is the host running the virtual machine
  • Virtual guest will have virtual disks (VHD) – File (easy to move around)
    • Fixed & Dynamic Disks
    • Recommended to use Fixed disk as performance issues with dynamic disks
  • Pass-through disk is a raw disk
  • Be mindful of the Hyper-V Virtual Machine State File (VSV) and Temporary Memory Storage (BIN) and differencing VHD’s
  • The UM role is not supported in a virtualised environment
  • Page file is 15gb + VM Memory Size = minimum VHD Size
  • Preference is SCSI pass-through for Hub & MBX database & log files
  • All disks should honour I/O stream segregation (Separate database and Log LUNs)
  • Fibre Channel / SCSI HBAs must be configured to Root/Parent, and LUNs presented to VMs as pass-through or VHDs
  • iSCSI has some performance issues due to the network stack
    • Separate iSCSI gigabit network
    • Dedicated NIC with Jumbo frame and no virtual switch
  • backup exchange from the Child/Guest


  • Performance is actually quite good when running Exchange 2007 SP1 on Hyper-V.  Scales well with 1-4 processors.
  • Storage and network design require consideration of CPU impact on the Host/Parent machine.
  • Need to also consider monitoring the Host/Parent
  • For performance testing of a virtual machine, you need to check the Host/Parent and Child/Guest machines
  • Should give virtual machines dedicate processors
  • Virtualisation of exchange does not change the exchange design
    • Design for Performance /reliability  and capacity (MBX/Hub/Edge)
    • Design for Usage Profiles (CAS/MBX)
    • Design for Message Profiles (Hub/Edge)
    • Provides new mobility solutions
    • Provides flexibility on system configuration
  • Hyper-V quick migration
    • Clustered hyper-v server
    • Move exchange to other clustered host/parent
      • Pause exchange and move
      • exchange “instance” is just moved
    • Unplanned fail over
      • dirty shutdown
  • Hyper-V enables 50% reduction on physical server count
  • Edge, Hub and CAS are excellent examples of virtualised roles
  • In the enterprise, the mailbox role is better on physical hardware due to disk I/O and storage

It does appear that Hyper-V is finally catching up with VMware

Other things to note:

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

Microsoft Messaging & Mobility User Group UK

Boyz & Girlz gentle remind if your interested in spending an evening with Gordon McKenna discussing SCOM 2007 and Exchange 2007.

This event will be held in London at the MSFT offices in Cardinal Place near Victoria.

The meeting will be a mixture of PowerPoint and Discussions so there will be plenty of time to run through your questions.

The agenda for the meeting will be as follows: (although I may tweak the timings slightly)

18:15 – 18:40            Arrival
18:40 – 18:45            Introduction to speakers and the aims of the group
18:45 – 19:30            1st session; Gordon McKenna, Managing and Monitoring Exchange using SCOM 2007
19:30 – 19:50            Food!
19:50 – 20:45            2nd session; Gordon McKenna, Round Table discussion – Q&A focussed on Managing and Monitoring Exchange
20:45 – 21:00            Summing up and suggestions for future meetings.
21:00                        The End!

Interested, sign up here: http://www.mmmug.co.uk/forums/thread/11411.aspx


July MMMUG meeting

Roll up, roll up .. put this date in your diary and come along

The next event will be held in London at the MSFT offices in Cardinal Place near Victoria.

This month we have a great session led by top speaker Gordon McKenna! Gordon will be going into depth about how we should be managing and monitoring Exchange using the System Center Operations Manager 2007 product.

The meeting will be held on Tuesday 8th July and runs from 18:30 – 21:00.

The meeting will be a mixture of PowerPoint and Discussions so there will be plenty of time to run through your questions.
To sign up and for more information see the link below: