Monitoring Features and Tools


Topic Last Modified: 2007-05-18

Before deploying Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 in a production environment, you should establish routine, automated monitoring and error detection strategies for your operating system and applications. Immediately detecting application and system errors increases your chances of resolving errors before the system shuts down. Monitoring can also help alert you of scalability needs. For example, if one or more servers are operating at capacity some or all of the time, you can decide if you need to add more servers or upgrade the hardware of existing servers.

For more information about monitoring, see "Monitoring and status tools" in Windows Server 2003 Help.

You can use the following tools and programs to monitor your Exchange Server 2003 organization:

  • Exchange 2003 monitoring tools

  • Windows Server 2003 monitoring tools

  • Additional monitoring tools

  • Monitoring with MOM

  • Third-party tools

Exchange System Manager includes the following features to help you monitor your Exchange 2003 organization:

  • Monitoring and Status

  • Queue Viewer

  • Diagnostic logging

  • Protocol logging

  • Message Tracking Center

For procedural information about using these features, see Exchange 2003 Help.

The Monitoring and Status feature in Exchange System Manager includes basic monitoring and reporting functionality that allows you to view the status of servers and connectors in your organization. In addition, you can use Monitoring and Status to notify administrators when services fail or when specific resource thresholds are reached (for example, when the free disk space on a particular disk reaches a specific capacity). To access the Monitoring and Status feature in Exchange System Manager, expand Tools in the console tree.

The following sections provide an overview of the Monitoring and Status feature. For procedural information about how to use Monitoring and Status, see Exchange 2003 Help.

To make sure that your servers are operating properly, you can use Monitoring and Status to view the list of servers in your organization and their current status. You can also use Monitoring and Status to verify that your connectors are available to transmit messages. To view the status of servers and connectors, in Exchange System Manager, expand Tools, expand Monitoring and Status, and then click Status.

If you set warning and critical state thresholds to monitor server resources, the server status displays a warning or critical state icon if thresholds are met or exceeded. You can access server monitors from the same window in which you verify server status.

When setting notifications, you can alert an administrator by e-mail or you can use a script to respond to server or connector problems. To configure notifications, in Exchange System Manager, expand Tools, expand Monitoring and Status, and then click Notifications. You can only send notifications in the following circumstances:

  • If a server enters a warning state

  • If a server enters a critical state

  • If a connector enters a down state

You cannot send a notification if a server resource is low. After an alert is sent, you can use the Status window to view the state of a server or connector and use the Monitor tab to view server resource monitor states.

To configure the resources you want to monitor, use the Monitoring tab in the server's Properties. Specifically, you can use this tab to define the parameters within which your server's hardware and software should function before a warning or critical state icon is displayed. After resource monitoring thresholds are met or exceeded, a warning icon is displayed on both the Monitoring tab of a server's Properties and on the Status node under Monitoring and Status.

Regular maintenance should include checking the status of all server resources to see if resources are low and if additional resources, such as memory, are required.

You can use Exchange System Manager to monitor the following components:

  • Virtual memory

  • CPU utilization

  • Free disk space

  • Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) queue growth

  • Windows Server 2003 services

  • X.400 queue growth

Because applications use virtual memory to store instructions and data, problems can occur when there is not enough virtual memory available. To monitor the available virtual memory on your Exchange server, use the Monitoring tab to add performance limits. When the amount of available virtual memory falls below a specified limit (for a specified duration), the virtual memory monitor is identified on the Monitoring tab with a warning or critical state icon. You can set a limit for a warning state, a critical state, or both.

You can monitor the percent of your server's CPU utilization. When CPU utilization is too high, Exchange 2003 may stop responding.

During some server events, CPU utilization may increase to high levels. When the server event is complete, CPU utilization returns to normal levels. The duration that you specify should be greater than the number of minutes that such system events normally run.

To monitor CPU utilization, use the Monitoring tab to add performance limits. When the amount of CPU utilization exceeds a specified limit (for a specified duration), the CPU utilization monitor is identified on the Monitoring tab with a warning or critical state icon. You can set a limit, in percent, for both a warning state and a critical state.

To make sure that enough disk space is available to use virtual memory and store application data after an application is closed, use the Monitoring tab to add performance limits. When the amount of available disk space falls below a specified limit, the free disk space monitor is identified on the Monitoring tab with a warning or critical state icon. You can set a limit for a warning state, a critical state, or both.

If a SMTP queue continuously grows, e-mail messages do not leave the queue and are not delivered to another Exchange server as quickly as new messages arrive. This can be an indication of network or system problems. To avoid delays in delivering messages, you should monitor SMTP queue growth. When the queue continuously grows for a specified period of time, the SMTP queue monitor displays a warning icon on the Monitoring tab. You can set a growth threshold for a warning state, a critical state, or both.

You can use the Windows Server 2003 service monitor to monitor the Windows Server 2003 services running on your Exchange server. To monitor a Windows Server 2003 service on your server running Exchange 2003, use the Monitoring tab. If a service is not running, you can specify the type of warning you receive. You can also monitor multiple Windows Server 2003 services using a single Windows Server 2003 service monitor.

If an X.400 queue continuously grows, e-mail messages do not leave the queue and are not delivered to an Exchange Server 5.5 or X.400 server as quickly as new messages arrive. This can be an indication of network or system problems. To avoid delays in delivering messages, you should monitor X.400 queue growth. When the queue continuously grows for a specified period of time, the X.400 queue monitor displays a warning icon on the Monitoring tab. You can set a growth threshold for a warning state, a critical state, or both.

Queue Viewer is a utility in Exchange 2003 that allows you to maintain and administer your organization's messaging queues, as well as the messages contained within those queues. Queue Viewer is available on all SMTP virtual servers, X.400 objects, and all installed Microsoft Exchange Connectors for Novell GroupWise, Lotus Notes, and Lotus cc:Mail.

To access Queue Viewer, in Exchange System Manager, expand the server you want, and then click Queues. Expanding Queues reveals one or more system queues, which are default queues specific to the protocol transporting the messages (SMTP, X.400, or MAPI). The system queues are always visible.

The link queues are also visible in the Queues container. These queues are visible only if the SMTP virtual server, X.400 object, or connector is currently holding or sending messages to another server. Link queues contain outbound messages that are going to the same next-destination server.

You can use Exchange 2003 diagnostic logging to record significant events related to authentication, connections, and user actions. Viewing these events helps you keep track of the types of transactions being conducted on your Exchange servers. By default, the logging level is set to None. As a result, only critical errors are logged. However, you can change the level at which you want to log Exchange-related events. To do this, on the Diagnostics Logging tab of a server's Properties, select a service and one or more categories to monitor, and then select the logging level you want.

After you configure the logging level, you can view the log entries in Event Viewer. In Event Viewer, events are logged by date, time, source, category, event number, user, and computer. To help resolve issues for any server in your organization, you can research errors, warnings, and diagnostic information in the event data. Use the event's Properties page to view the logging information and text for the event. For more information about using Event Viewer, see Windows Server 2003 Help.

It is not recommended that you use the maximum logging settings unless instructed to do so by Microsoft Product Support Services. Maximum logging considerably drains resources.

The protocol logging feature provides detailed information about SMTP and Network News Transfer Protocol (NNTP) commands. This feature is particularly useful in monitoring and troubleshooting protocol or messaging errors. To enable protocol logging, in an SMTP or NNTP virtual server's Properties, on the General tab, select the Enable logging check box.

Message Tracking Center can track messages in both Exchange 2003 organizations and mixed Exchange 2003 and Exchange 5.5 organizations. To access Message Tracking Center, in Exchange System Manager, expand Tools, and then click Message Tracking Center. Message Tracking Center can also track messages going to or coming in from a foreign e-mail system, such as Lotus Notes. You cannot track the path of a message that is forwarded after the message arrives at a foreign e-mail system, but you can determine whether the message was delivered successfully. When using Message Tracking Center, you must complete two main tasks: First, you must search for and select a particular message to track. Then, you can view the history of the message path. You can also save the history of the message path to a text file for reference if message tracking logs are cleared.

By default, message tracking is not enabled. To enable message tracking, in Exchange System Manager, on the General tab of each server's Properties, enable mailbox store and public folder store message tracking.

In addition to the monitoring features in Exchange System Manager, there are various Microsoft Windows features and tools you can use to monitor your Exchange 2003 organization. These features and tools include:

  • Performance Monitor (Perfmon)

  • Event Viewer

  • Network Monitor (Netmon)

  • Service Control Manager

  • Shutdown Event Tracker

  • Windows error reporting

  • Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI)

  • Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP)

Windows Server 2003 Performance Monitor (Perfmon) is a tool you can configure to collect information regarding the performance of your messaging system. Specifically, you can use Perfmon to monitor, create graphs, and log performance metrics for core system functions. You can also use Perfmon to monitor Exchange-specific parameters, such as the number of inbound or outbound messages per hour or the number of directory lookups performed by DSAccess and DSProxy. However, Perfmon is commonly used to gather baseline performance data and to monitor key parameters when performance problems occur.

With Perfmon, you can monitor a single computer, or you can monitor several computers simultaneously. This flexibility can be helpful when you want to locate a specific problem in your messaging system. Depending on your needs, you can use the Chart window to monitor performance, or you can store data in logs to review later.

To increase administrator response, you can use Perfmon to generate an e-mail message or a customized notification whenever a counter exceeds or drops below a specified measurement. After the data is generated, you can export it to a spreadsheet or database for further review and analysis.

When planning your performance logging strategy, determine the information you need and collect it at regular intervals. However, performance sampling consumes CPU and memory resources. It is difficult to store and extract useful information from excessively large performance logs. For more information about how to automatically collect performance data, see "Performance Logs and Alerts overview" in Windows Server 2003 Help.

In previous versions of Exchange, you could not use Perfmon to monitor end-user performance for Microsoft Office Outlook users. However, Exchange 2003 and Outlook 2003 provide this functionality.

Exchange 2003 servers record both remote procedure call (RPC) latency and errors on client computers running Outlook 2003. You can use this information to determine the overall experience quality for your users, as well as to monitor the Exchange server for errors. For detailed information about using Perfmon to monitor client-side performance, see the "Monitoring Outlook Client Performance" section in Performance and Scalability Features of Exchange Server 2003.

Although you can use Perfmon to monitor client-side RPC data, MOM includes functionality that allows you to monitor this data more easily.

Event Viewer reports Exchange and messaging system information and is often used in other reporting applications. Whenever you start Windows, logging begins automatically, and you can view the logs in Event Viewer. Event Viewer maintains logs about application, security, and system events on your computer. You can use Event Viewer to view and manage event logs and gather information about hardware and software problems.

To diagnose a system problem, event logs are often the best place to start. By using the event logs in Event Viewer, you can gather important information about hardware, software, and system problems. Windows Server 2003 records this information in the system log, application log, and security log. In addition, some system components (such as the Cluster service) also record events in a log. For more information about event logs, see "Checking event logs" in Windows Server 2003 Help.

Network Monitor (Netmon) is used to collect network information at the packet level. Monitoring a network typically involves observing resource usage on a server and measuring network traffic. You can use Netmon to accomplish these tasks. Unlike System Monitor, which is used to monitor hardware and software, Netmon exclusively monitors network activity. You can use System Monitor to monitor your network's hardware and software. However, for in-depth traffic analysis, you should use Netmon.

Service Control Manager (SCM) is a Microsoft Windows Server tool that maintains a database of installed services. You can configure SCM to automatically restart failed services, thereby increasing availability. For more information about SCM, see the topic "Service Control Manager" in Windows Server 2003 Help.

Shutdown Event Tracker is a Windows Server 2003 feature that enables you to consistently track why users restart or shut down their computers. You can use codes to categorize the reasons for each shutdown and record a comment for each. For more information, see "Shutdown Event Tracker overview" in Windows Server 2003 Help.

With Windows error reporting functionality, you are immediately notified (through a dialog box) of severe errors that occur on your servers running Windows Server 2003 applications. Windows error reporting allows you to send information about any failures that may occur to Microsoft. Microsoft then uses this information to determine and prioritize potential updates to future versions of Windows and Exchange.

Depending on your system configuration, you can manually send error information to Microsoft, you can have the information sent automatically, or you can turn off the error reporting functionality.

In addition, the integration of Exchange 2003 errors into Windows error reporting allows you to report and review error reporting data related to the following:

  • Exchange System Manager

  • Microsoft Exchange System Attendant service

  • Directory Services Management

  • Microsoft Exchange Management service

  • Exchange Setup

  • Microsoft Exchange Information Store service

Corporate Error Reporting (CER) is a tool designed for administrators to manage error reports created by the Windows Error Reporting client and error-reporting clients included in other Microsoft programs. For information about installing and using CER, see "Corporate Error Reporting" on the Microsoft Software Assurance Web site.

For more information about error reporting in relation to Exchange issues, see "Reliability and Clustering Features" in What's New in Exchange Server 2003.

Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) helps you manage your network and applications as they become larger and more complex. With WMI, you can monitor, track, and control system events that are related to software applications, hardware components, and networks. WMI includes a uniform scripting application programming interface (API), which defines all managed objects under a common object framework that is based on the Common Information Model (CIM). Scripts use the WMI API to access information from different sources. WMI can submit queries that filter requests for specific information. WMI can also subscribe to WMI events based on your particular interests, rather than being limited to events predefined by the original developers.

Exchange 2003 provides many WMI classes that you can use to monitor and analyze Exchange servers, track messages, and check mail flow status. The Exchange 2003 SDK contains complete information about the Exchange WMI providers, including many sample scripts to help you get started. You can download or view the Exchange 2003 SDK from the Microsoft Exchange Server Downloads page on MSDN®.

Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) allows you to capture configuration and status information about your network and have the information sent to a designated computer for event monitoring. For more information about SNMP, see "SNMP" in Windows Server 2003 Help.

In addition to the tools and features of Exchange 2003 and Windows Server 2003, Microsoft provides additional tools and features that can help you monitor and troubleshoot your Exchange 2003 organization. These tools and features include:

  • Exchange Server Connection Status

  • RPC Ping

  • WinRoute

Exchange Server Connection Status is a client-side feature in Outlook 2003 that enables users to quickly determine the status of their connection. This is useful for computers that are experiencing connection problems. Specifically, you can use this feature to check RPC connectivity from client to server, including any intermediate RPC (or RPC over HTTP) proxies in between.

This feature is available for Outlook 2003 users who have e-mail accounts on Exchange 2003 servers. To access this feature, users must press and hold CTRL, right-click the Microsoft Office Outlook icon in the notifications area, and then click Connection Status. The Exchange Server Connection Status dialog box appears, providing users with information about the connection status.

For more information about using Exchange Server Connection Status, see "Verify connection to Exchange through the Internet" in Microsoft Office Outlook 2003 Help.

You can use the RPC Ping tool to check RPC connectivity from client to server. Specifically, this tool is used to confirm the RPC connectivity between the Exchange 2003 server and any supported Exchange clients, including any intermediate RPC (or RPC over HTTP) proxies in between.

For usage and download information regarding RPC Ping, see Microsoft Knowledge Base article 831051 "How to use the RPC Ping utility to troubleshoot connectivity issues with the Exchange over the Internet feature in Outlook 2007 and in Outlook 2003."

You can use the WinRoute tool to monitor the routing services on your servers if you suspect a problem. When establishing your routine monitoring strategy, be sure to include the use of this tool. To obtain a visual representation of your Exchange routing topology and the status of the different routing components, you can use WinRoute to connect to the link state port (TCP 691) on an Exchange 2003 server. In addition, WinRoute extracts link state information for your Exchange organization and presents it in a readable format.

You can download WinRoute at

For information about how to use WinRoute, see Microsoft Knowledge Base article 281382, "How to Use the WinRoute Tool."

Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM) 2000 includes a full set of features to help administrators monitor and manage both the events and performance of their information technology (IT) systems running Windows Server 2003 or Windows 2000 Server.

MOM 2000 is sold separately from Windows Server 2003 and Windows 2000 Server.

MOM uses rules and scripts to define which events and performance counters should be monitored. MOM also provides administrative alerts (including recommended actions that should be performed) when an event occurs, when performance falls outside the acceptable range, or when a probe detects a problem.

The MOM 2000 Application Management Pack (which is a set of management pack modules and reports that facilitate the monitoring and management of Microsoft server products) improves the availability of Windows-based networks and server applications. The MOM Application Management Pack includes the Exchange 2003 Management Pack, which extends the capabilities of MOM by providing specialized monitoring for Exchange 2003 servers.

For information about MOM 2000 and the Application Management Pack, see the MOM Web site.

The following sections provide an overview of Exchange 2003 Management Pack for MOM. For detailed information about the Exchange 2003 Management Pack, see the Exchange Server 2003 Management Pack for MOM 2005.

The Exchange 2003 Management Pack is designed to help you achieve the highest possible server availability. A key feature of the Exchange 2003 Management Pack is the ability to monitor all of your Exchange servers from a single console or Web page. The Exchange 2003 Management Pack monitors the performance, availability, and security of Exchange 2003, alerting you of events that have a direct impact on server availability while filtering out events that require no action. Through alerts, knowledge base solutions, and reports, the Exchange 2003 Management Pack helps you correct problems before a disaster occurs. The Exchange 2003 Management Pack also includes reports that allow you to summarize server availability and analyze trends.

The Exchange 2003 Management Pack includes the following functionality:

  • Provides a complete Exchange solution by monitoring access to Active Directory® directory service, Microsoft Exchange Information Store service, Extensible Storage Engine (ESE), message transport, Exchange clustering, Microsoft Office Outlook Web Access, and Internet protocols (such as SMTP, POP3, and IMAP4).

  • Detects, alerts, and automatically responds to critical events. The Exchange 2003 Management Pack helps indicate, correct (by referring administrators to Microsoft Knowledge Base articles that can help resolve problems), and in many cases, prevent possible Exchange service outages.

  • Monitors critical Exchange performance counters. Using performance thresholds and related alert definitions to emphasize performance conditions that may indicate service problems or even possible denial of service attacks, Exchange 2003 Management Pack allows you to identify issues before they become critical.

  • Contains an array of scripts to monitor single and cross-server usage, performance, reliability, and configuration.

  • Monitors all Exchange 2003 server configurations, including stand–alone and cluster servers, as well as front-end and back-end servers.

  • Increases the availability and performance of your Exchange installation. Exchange 2003 Management Pack reduces your total cost of ownership (TCO) by enabling proactive Exchange management.

The Exchange 2003 Management Pack monitors events that are placed in the application event log by various Exchange components, such as Active Directory access, Microsoft Exchange Information Store service, ESE, message transfer agent (MTA), Outlook Web Access, Internet protocols, and Exchange cluster servers.

The Exchange 2003 Management Pack also quickly notifies you of any service outages or configuration problems, thereby helping to increase the security, availability, and performance of your Exchange 2003 organization. To alert you of critical performance issues, the management pack also monitors all key Exchange performance metrics. Using the MOM reporting feature, you can analyze and graph performance data to understand usage trends, to assist with load balancing, and to manage system capacity.

The Exchange 2003 Management Pack proactively manages your Exchange installation to avoid costly service outages. For example, the Exchange 2003 Management Pack monitors the following components and operations in your organization:

  • Vital performance monitoring data, which can indicate that the Exchange server is running low on resources.

  • Important warning and error events from Exchange 2003 servers. Alerts operators of those events.

  • Disk capacity. Alerts operators when disk capacity is running low. Provides knowledge as to which Exchange files are on the affected drives.

  • Exchange services that are expected to be running on a specific server.

  • Exchange database that can be reached by a MAPI client logon. This verifies both the Exchange database and Active Directory functionality.

  • High queue lengths that are caused by an inability to send e-mail messages to a destination server.

  • Simultaneous connections. Alerts operators of a high number of simultaneous connections, which often indicates a denial–of–service attack.

  • Errors or resource shortages that affect service levels.

  • Mail flow between defined servers, to confirm end-to end mail flow capability within your Exchange organization.

The Exchange 2003 Management Pack includes several views and reports to help you quickly identify Exchange issues. With these views and reports, you can analyze and graph performance data to understand usage trends, do accurate load balancing, and manage system capacity.

Exchange reports cover the following items.

  • Exchange 2003 and Exchange 2000 Health Monitoring and Operations Reports

    You can use the monitoring and operations reports to analyze database sizes, disk usage, mailboxes, server availability, and the configuration of Exchange servers. For example, you can list database sizes for Exchange servers, where database size (in megabytes) is presented for each server, storage group, and database. The reports in this category are as follows:

    • Exchange Disk Usage   This report provides data about servers running Exchange based on disk performance counters, presenting daily averages for each counter.

    • Exchange Server Availability   This report provides the percentage of server availability for Exchange servers during a specified time period and also lists the categories of failure types that could lead to a server being unavailable.

    • Exchange Server Configuration   This report provides configuration information including computer and operating systems configuration and local disk information.

    • Exchange 2003 Outlook Client Monitoring   This report gives you the results of analysis data collected by Exchange 2003 servers monitoring Outlook clients for the end user's experience in terms of response times and errors.

    • Exchange Mailboxes   This report shows the distribution of mailboxes across storage groups and databases for Exchange servers.

    • Exchange Database Sizes   This report shows the total database size on each server, in addition to the individual components of the database. For example, if a database contains both a mailbox store and a public folder store, this report shows the size of each.

  • Exchange 2003 and Exchange 2000 Protocol Usage Reports

    The protocol usage reports obtain data about usage and activity levels for the mail protocols that are used by Exchange, such as POP3, IMAP4, and SMTP. You can also obtain usage and activity level reports for Exchange components, such as Microsoft Exchange Information Store service, mailbox store, public folder store, MTA, and Outlook Web Access. These reports use key performance counters for operations conducted in a specific time period. The reports include data for Exchange 2000 servers only when the Exchange 2000 Management Pack for Microsoft Operations Manager is installed.

  • Exchange 2003 and Exchange 2000 Traffic Analysis Reports

    The traffic analysis reports summarize Exchange mail traffic patterns by message count and size for both Recipient and Sender domains. For example, the report Mail Delivered: Top 100 Sender Domains by Message Size provides a list of the top 100 sender domains sorted by message size during a specific time period, as reported in the Exchange message tracking logs. The reports include data for Exchange 2000 servers only when the Exchange 2000 Management Pack for Microsoft Operations Manager is installed.

  • Exchange Capacity Planning Reports

    By analyzing your daily client logons and messages sent and received, in addition to work queues, the capacity planning reports show the Exchange server resource usage. These reports help you plan for current and future capacity requirements.

  • Exchange Mailbox and Folder Sizes Reports

    You can use these reports to monitor the size of Exchange mailboxes and folders and to determine your highest growth areas. The reports in this category include the top 100 mailboxes by size and message count, and the top 100 public folders by size and message count.

  • Exchange Performance Analysis Report

    The Queue Sizes report summarizes Exchange performance counters and helps you to analyze queue performance.

  • Exchange 5.5 Reports

    There are several Exchange 5.5 reports that can help you obtain data about operations such as average time for mail delivery, as well as pending replication synchronizations and remaining replication updates. There are also several Exchange 5.5 traffic analysis reports available.

For detailed information about monitoring your Exchange messaging system, see Monitoring Exchange Server 2003 at Microsoft.

Rather than using the monitoring tools and features provided by Exchange 2003, Windows Server 2003, and MOM 2000, you can use third-party products to monitor your Exchange 2003 organization. Third-party monitoring and management tools vary widely in price and capability. This section provides an overview of the features and capabilities available in third-party monitoring and management products.

For information about vendors that offer third-party monitoring solutions, see the Exchange Server Partners Web site.

Some third-party monitoring products are designed to monitor all of the applications in your organization. Other products focus entirely on monitoring Exchange 2003. In general, third-party monitoring products provide similar levels of monitoring functionality and are highly competitive. For example, most third-party monitoring products include features that enable you to proactively monitor your server environment, as well as features that provide a detailed analysis of the logged data. To make sure that you select a monitoring product that meets the needs of your organization, consider evaluating the features of multiple third-party application monitoring products before making a purchasing decision.

Some third-party application monitoring products offer functionality similar to MOM. However, when selecting a monitoring strategy, it is recommended that you compare the features and functionality of MOM to any third-party solutions.

For more information about selecting third-party monitoring products, see "Selecting Third-Party Monitoring Products" later in this topic.

Third-party hardware monitoring products are often designed exclusively to help you monitor and manage your hardware. These monitoring products (often referred to as system management tools) may include both hardware and software as part of the solution.

Essentially, system management tools can be separated into three organizational levels: entry-level, mid-level, and high-level.

  • Entry-level system management tools

    Entry-level system management tools provide the basic information you need to monitor the performance of you server's hardware. The fundamentals of hardware management include monitoring system voltage, fan speed, and thermal conditions, as well as examining the system hardware for specific failure types. When the system management software or firmware detects such faults, the response varies. In some cases, the software may only generate an alert. (For example, if the voltage drops or spikes, an e-mail message is sent to an administrator.) In other cases (for example, a faulty fan is detected), the software alerts the network administrator and transfers the cooling load to the other fans in the server.

  • Mid-level system management tools

    In addition to providing the same functionality as entry-level tools, mid-level system management tools may also be able to analyze system information and alert the administrators about potential system failures before they occur. This capability is often called prefailure monitoring or predictive failure analysis. If a component, such as a power supply, hard disk, fan, or memory, begins to fail, an administrator is notified before the component failure or system shutdown actually occurs. Coupled with warranties and service contracts that offer prefailure replacement parts, predictive failure analysis can help warn administrators about key components (for example, hard disks, memory, and CPUs) that could potentially fail and need replacing.

  • High level system management tools

    In addition to providing the same functionality as mid-level tools, high-level system management tools also include hardware-based system management cards and add-on processors. In general, vendors who sell enterprise-level server hardware also offer system management solutions that include different combinations of high-end hardware and system management features. System management cards and add-on processors extend the basic capabilities of the system's standard management tools. When selecting high-level system management tools, look for features such as in-band and out-of-band management, and modems that support direct dial-out to alphanumeric pagers. With the use of such high-level system management tools, it is theoretically possible to contact technical support without human intervention. Additionally, some system management tools offer the following functionality:

    • You can dial in to a server that is down and run diagnostics or reboot the server.

    • You can redirect the server console to another system through an in-band connection, out-of band connection, or both.

    • You can access server controls and diagnostic features through a Web-browser interface, which enables you to monitor and, in some cases, control systems from different computers.

For detailed information about selecting fault tolerant hardware for your Exchange 2003 organization, see Component-Level Fault Tolerant Measures.

To help you identify which third-party monitoring products best meet the needs of your organization, consider the following factors:

  • Does the vendor have a good record of shipping products that work well with Exchange?

  • What is the vendor's support policy? Do they offer adequate support to meet uptime and service level guarantees that may be affected if there are problems with their tools?

    If you implement a third-party solution for Exchange 2003, the vendor of the monitoring application is your primary support provider for software-related issues, and your hardware provider is your primary support provider for hardware-related issues.
  • How much does the tool cost? Are its costs and capabilities in concordance with the downtime costs that you calculated at the beginning of the planning process?

This guide does not provide recommendations about non-Microsoft tools. For information about non-Microsoft management tools, see the Exchange Server Partners Web site.