Do you get bogged down trying to both maintain sufficient performance across your Microsoft applications, while troubleshooting related problems as they happen? If so, here are seven tips that will help you manage your software from Redmond:
1: Don’t Try to Manage the Unknown
Ensuring optimal Microsoft application performance starts by automatically maintaining an up-to-date network and server inventory of hardware and software assets, physical connectivity, and configuration. This helps to truly understand what is being supported in your environment. Doing this will also save time identifying relationships between devices and applications, and piecing them together to see the big picture. You may even find discrepancies in application versions or patch levels within Exchange or IIS server farms. You can correct these by through discovery, mapping and documenting your assets.
2: Monitor the Whole Delivery Chain
There are multiple elements responsible for providing Microsoft services and application content to end-users. Take monitoring Lync, for example. Lync alone has:
- A multi-tier architecture consisting of a Front-End Server at the core
- SQL Database servers on the back-end
- Edge Server to enable outside the firewall access
- Mediation Server for VoIP
- And more..
You get the idea. The same applies to any Web-based application. Like SharePoint on the front-end, middleware systems and back-end SQL databases, not to mention the underling network. Don’t take any shortcuts, monitor it all.
If any of these components in the application delivery chain underperform, your Microsoft applications will inevitably slow down and bring employee communications, productivity and business operations down with it.
3: Understand Dependencies within Applications
There’s nothing worse than receiving an alert storm when a problem is detected. It can take hours to sort out what has a red status, why it has that status, and whether it was a real problem or a false positive. It’s a waste of time and delays the root cause identification and resolution.
A far better solution is to monitor the entire application service as a whole. This includes IIS servers, SQL servers, physical and virtual servers and the underlying network. Identify monitoring capabilities that will discover and track end-to-end dependencies and suppress alerts (if a database is “down,” all related apps will also be “down”). This is also the foundation to build SLA monitoring strategies aligned with business goals. Read on to find out more.
4: Look for Tools That Can Go Deep
Application performance monitoring tools let you drill down from one unified view into the offending component to reduce triage and troubleshooting to just minutes. Even if you are not a DBA, you should be able to quickly identify that SQL is the culprit. Plus, think about automatic corrective actions as part of your monitoring strategy to restore service levels faster. This includes using Write Event Log, Run Scripts, Reboot, Active and PowerShell scripts. For example, Exchange and SQL are well-known for their high memory consumption and high IOs, so you may want to automatically reboot them to avoid service disruptions for your users when exceeded memory reaches a problematic level.
5: Utilize Microsoft Application Monitoring Features
Use built-in application monitoring features that come with your Microsoft applications like Exchange, SharePoint, Lync, IIS, Dynamics, SQL and Windows. Or even some free tools. Every organization is different, so there really is no one size fits all approach to this. Look for pre-packaged monitoring with capabilities to easily tweak settings, so you can also monitor custom applications or more feature-rich applications.
6: Don’t Forget Wireless Bandwidth Monitoring
It is a wireless world out there, and BYOD continues to grow. Mobility has transformed wireless networks into business-critical assets that support employee connectivity, productivity and business Ops. For example, Microsoft corporate headquarters runs Lync over Aruba Wi-Fi. Just like you want a map of your wired assets, look for capabilities to automatically generate dynamic wireless maps — WLCs, APs and Clients — from the same single point of control.
7: Keep Stakeholders and Teams Regularly Updated
Your Microsoft applications may be the backbone of your business. Slowdowns, intermittent application performance problems or failures will drive escalations through the roof. Not to mention bringing productivity, Ops and even revenue to a halt. Customizable reporting (by application, by servers, by location, etc.) and automatic email distribution capabilities (daily, weekly, monthly, etc.) will help to keep cross-functional team members and stakeholders in the know. Get in the habit of periodically analyzing all performance data to identify problematic trends early on, properly plan capacity, and justify investment on additional resources.
Maintaining network performance can sometimes feel like a gargantuan task, with issues seemingly coming out of nowhere. However, many of these unforeseen problems can actually be anticipated and avoided with the correct monitoring solutions in place.