Go-Along Tools to Use with Exchange Server 2003


Topic Last Modified: 2008-09-22

Go-along tools are tools that, if you’re using one of them, you are probably performing some task for which another tool might also be useful to you. In this month’s topic I’m going to go give some examples, some obvious, some not so obvious, and also point out that the Microsoft Exchange Tech Center does some of this work for you.

During the development cycle for Microsoft® Exchange Server, the product team thinks about tools:

  • What tools are needed to help people administer and troubleshoot Exchange?

  • What tools does Microsoft Product Support Services use and can these tools be released to customers?

  • What changes can we make to Exchange Server so that people need fewer tools?

These are just some of the questions that we constantly ask ourselves and our customers.

As part of this discussion, we frequently review our tools to see which ones we can consolidate or remove. Invariably, we come across a number of tools that do very similar things, but have slightly different uses, or look for slightly different things. This is the concept of go-along tools.

You can find the downloadable tools at the Tools for Exchange Server 2003 Web site. Tools are updated on a monthly schedule. Things that cause changes in this page include:

  • Adding new tools.

  • Removing outdated tools (very infrequently).

  • Updating existing tools.

  • Updating existing documentation.

The following sections discuss some examples of go-along tools.

For migration tools, my favorite example is the relationship between Microsoft Exchange Server Domain Rename Fixup (XDR-Fixup) and the Exchange Server MSSearch Administration Tool.

The documentation that accompanies XDR-Fixup states:

"Microsoft® Exchange Domain Rename Fix-Up (XDR-fixup.exe) fixes Exchange attributes after you rename a domain that contains Exchange 2003 Service Pack 1 (SP1) servers. Use this tool with the Microsoft Windows Server™ 2003 directory rename tool, Rendom.exe. (The Windows Server 2003 directory rename tools are available at http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?linkid=40992.)"

But this leaves you in a bit of a problem. If you use content indexing, you’ve just destroyed your Index Start Address. For more information about this problem, see Microsoft Knowledge Base article 887161,"Full-text indexes do not work after you rename your domain in Exchange Server 2003." As a resolution, this articles says to “Download and install the Exchange Server MSSearch Administration tool.” You may wonder what MSSearch can do for you in this situation.

The MSSearch documentation states that:

"The tool will also detect and repair any of the following configurations that are incorrect for a full-text index:

  • The full-text index location stored in the Active Directory® directory service is incorrect. This can occur if you move the full-text index from its default location. For more information about how to move the full-text index files, see the "Best Practices for Deploying Full-Text Indexing" Web site at http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?linkid=5223.

  • The original Index Start Address for the full-text index is no longer correct. This can be the case if either of the following activities occur after the full-text index has been created:

This is my favorite example of go-along tools because it is not immediately obvious that you might want to use MSSearch after renaming your domain.

When stress testing your environment you can benefit from knowing that there are a couple of different tools that you can use depending on your environment. Two of these tools, Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 Load Simulator (LoadSim) and Microsoft Exchange Server Jetstress Tool, are provided by Microsoft for this purpose.

LoadSim’s description says:

"Use Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 Load Simulator (LoadSim) as a benchmarking tool to simulate the performance load of MAPI clients. LoadSim allows you to test how a server running Exchange 2003 responds to e-mail loads. To simulate the delivery of these messaging requests, you run LoadSim tests on client computers. These tests send multiple messaging requests to the Exchange server, thereby causing a mail load. LoadSim is a useful tool for administrators who are sizing servers and validating a deployment plan. Specifically, LoadSim helps you determine if each of your servers can handle the load to which they are intended to carry. Another use for LoadSim is to help validate the overall solution."

However, LoadSim uses MAPI clients to perform tests and does not provide a comprehensive representation of user experience. Therefore, the results should not be interpreted in that aspect. When you want to evaluate the performance of your storage system, you should use Jetstress.

The description for Jetstress says:

"Use Jetstress to verify the performance and stability of a disk subsystem prior to putting an Exchange server into production. Jetstress helps verify disk performance by simulating Exchange disk Input/Output (I/O) load. Specifically, Jetstress simulates the Exchange database and log file loads produced by a specific number of users. You use Performance Monitor, Event Viewer, and ESEUTIL in conjunction with Jetstress to verify that your disk subsystem meets or exceeds the performance criteria you establish. After a successful completion of the Jetstress Disk Performance and Stress Tests in a non-production environment, you will have ensured that your Exchange 2003 disk subsystem is adequately sized (in terms of performance criteria you establish) for the user count and user profiles you have established. It is highly recommended that the Jetstress user read through the tool documentation before using the tool."

Which tool you choose to use depends on what you are testing and what you are looking for. Either way, though, you should incorporate System Monitor, Event Viewer, and Exchange Server database utilities together with Jetstress or LoadSim to verify that you are meeting or exceeding your performance criteria.

In addition to tools for migration and stress testing, there are tools for message hygiene. If you’re using the Microsoft Exchange Intelligent Message Filter, you probably already know about the Filter Update for Microsoft Exchange Intelligent Message and the Microsoft Exchange Intelligent Message Filter Management Pack for MOM. These tools work together to provide a server-side message filter that produces a spam confidence level rating, which you can use to identify and filter unsolicited commercial e-mail (also known as spam) out of your organization. The Management Pack allows Microsoft Operations Manager to monitor the performance and availability of Exchange Intelligent Message Filter.

Additionally, if you’re concerned about message hygiene, be sure to take a look at the Microsoft Exchange Server SMTP Internet Protocol Restriction and Accept/Deny List Configuration tool. This tool allows you to configure IP addresses from you global accept or deny lists.

One final place to look for go-along tools is on the Microsoft Exchange Server TechCenter. Much work has already been done to identify tools to use, depending on the task you want to accomplish.

When you go to the Exchange Server TechCenter home page, you’ll see that the bottom portion of the page contains the Exchange Server 2003 Technical Library, which is divided into categories. Each category page contains a Toolbox section on the right side.

Location of the TechCenter Toolbox

For example, if you click the link to the Planning and Architecture category, you’ll see that the Toolbox includes the following tools, as well as others:

  • Application Analyzer 2003 for Lotus Notes

  • Jetstress

  • LoadSim

Other category pages in the Exchange Server TechCenter contain similar tools lists to help you in you Exchange organization. I hope that this article helps you to find complementary or different Microsoft tools to use with Microsoft Exchange Server.