System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2 (SCOM) is the platform monitoring and reporting solution from Microsoft. SCOM provides end-to-end service management that includes monitoring, troubleshooting, and reporting tools. SCOM uses the concept of management packs to extend the base framework for specific applications, such as Exchange 2010. A management pack includes all of the rules, knowledge, reports, and tasks needed to monitor a product. SCOM has management packs for all of Microsoft’s server products, and even sub-components such as DNS. The Exchange 2010 management pack has a complete health model and diagnostic alerts, and service-level reports needed to smoothly operate Exchange. Although SCOM itself requires licensing, the management Microsoft management pack for Exchange 2010 is free. The latest management pack includes several new features, described in the following sections.
1. Alert Correlation
A Windows service called the Correlation Engine finds dependencies encoded in the health model to determine root cause. It uses the class hierarchy defined in the Exchange MP to understand dependencies. For example, if Active Directory goes offline, it will also report that Exchange is not fully functional. This significantly reduces the noise that was an issue in earlier versions of SCOM.
It is recommended that you install the Correlation Engine on the SCOM Root Management Server (RMS). There is a performance impact to the RMS, because much of the information must be held in memory to determine the related monitors and alerts. It is estimated that the engine requires about 5 MB per Exchange instance that is being monitored.
2. Alert Classification
Alerts are put into three categories:
3. Full Protocol Synthetic Transaction Coverage
SCOM uses the native Exchange diagnostic cmdlets to simulate user transactions or protocol tests. Table 1 shows the synthetic transactions available in the Exchange 2010 management pack. These cmdlets can also be called directly from PowerShell and do not require SCOM.
The Exchange MP now includes mail flow statistics based on the message tracking logs. Figure 1 shows a sample report for mail flow statistics.
Figure 1. Sample SCOM mail flow report
Service-oriented reporting is for measuring applications or features, not just the host. It is interesting to note how SCOM calculates availability information. Figure 2 shows a sample availability report.
Figure 2. Sample SCOM availability report
Table2 shows how System Center calculates availability information.
Notes From The Field: Exchange and SCOM: Better Together
I had an interesting experience with the Exchange Management Pack in my last customer project. After planning and implementing Exchange Server in their environment, they also wanted a monitoring and reporting solution, so we decided to use System Center Operations Manager for that job.
The installation of the Exchange Management Pack (MP) was very easy, and shortly after we installed the pack it started to bring up alerts on specific items such as large queues and delivery notifications. Because of the fact that the alert also included information on how to solve the issue, it was quite easy to get rid of the alerts.
Every Exchange administrator wants a smooth-running Exchange deployment. We did our best to make sure that our deployment was well-tuned by running ExBPA and other tools. An important lesson I learned from this experience was that SCOM revealed a whole new level of detail about Exchange, and pointed out things that we needed to take care of to achieve a better operating environment. SCOM and the Exchange MP really proved their value to me in this respect.