What is Microsoft Exchange Monitoring and What is it Good For?

If you have young kids, teenagers, or even offspring in their 20s you'd think that email was dead. All they seem to do all day is text and communicate through social media. I have a 14-year-old daughter and she's probably placed 12 calls in the five years that she's owned her iPhone (she’s on her third iPhone, with one being run over by the school bus). And she never ever emails.

But email remains the King of business communications. Without email, your business comes to a stop. And no amount of text or social media is going to change that. There are over 3 billion email users globally, and roughly 25% of those accounts are for business. In fact, an office worker on average will send and receive over 120 emails each workday.

So, what happens if your email goes down or slows to a crawl? Not much gets done. And the longer it takes you to find out that your email is down or slow, the more business is lost – for good.

Moreover, Microsoft Exchange Server is still the fundamental way most businesses handle email, and despite the rise of Microsoft Office 365 (now called Microsoft 365) and Exchange online services, much of this email is still handled by good old Exchange on-premises servers. These servers are simply another application on your network, and like other business-critical applications, should be monitored for performance and able to spot problems before they turn into a disaster.

There are discrete Exchange monitoring point tools, but what about your other applications? If you have a special monitoring application for Exchange, do you do the same thing for SQL Server, and for your website? That’s a lot of vendors to work with, and consoles to look at.

That's where network monitoring comes in. With a good network monitoring solution, watching Microsoft Exchange is just one of the many things it can do. The network monitoring tool is watching your entire network so it already understands where the problems may lie that are impacting your Exchange performance, and through action-enabled alerts gets these problems solved quickly. Network monitoring equipped with application monitoring makes sure that critical applications such as Exchange are performing properly, and when they're not, get them up to snuff.

The good news is that WhatsUp Gold built-in Exchange monitoring gives you a close, inside real-time view of the Microsoft Exchange Server’s health and operation. To maintain Exchange availability and proper performance you need more data than just whether the Exchange Server is up or down. WhatsUp Gold offers a thorough view of key processes and alerts you with a prominent red circle when a process needs attention.

Diving into An Exchange Server Monitor

If there is one application that is going to flood the helpdesk with calls when it is down or performing poorly it is your email server, especially Microsoft Exchange. The CEO might not call about database performance or even a slow website, but when their email isn't up to snuff, you'll hear about it – pronto!

That's one reason to have service level agreements (SLA) for Microsoft Exchange performance. But the SLAs mean nothing if you don't have a way to enforce them – a way to keep your Exchange Server running properly. The key here is Exchange Server monitoring, so you know in detail what's going on. But more importantly, is knowing immediately that there's a problem that needs attention and being able to take prompt and proper action. With an Exchange monitor, you can set thresholds for performance, and alert the proper IT professional to act when a problem arises. In fact, an Exchange monitoring tool should be able to kick off actions to resolve common problems.

Your Exchange monitor should also allow you to customize definitions of application states and define how SLAs are calculated to eliminate false SLA failures.

How an Exchange Monitor Works

An email monitor, in this case, an Exchange monitor, simply tracks that a mail server is available and working properly. It does so by checking the Exchange email server by sending an email via SMTP. The Exchange monitor then tries to delete previously sent emails using either POP3 or IMAP. If the monitor doesn't find emails in any inbox to delete, it reports that the Exchange Server is down.

In the case of WhatsUp Gold, the Exchange active monitor supports encryption with SSL/TLS and SMTP Authentication. This guarantees that the Exchange monitor only sends emails to secure email accounts.

The Exchange monitor performs an email delivery check using two polls. Here IT should choose the best polling interval. If you want a threshold so that it is reported or you are alerted when the Exchange Server takes more than two minutes to send and receive an email, then you would set two minutes as your polling interval.

How the WhatsUp Gold Exchange Server Monitor Works

WhatsUp Gold can monitor and report on services found in any mail server, such as IMAP, POP3 and SMTP, and is designed to handle specific Exchange monitoring needs by tracking parameters reported by Microsoft Exchange.

A key task is monitoring SMTP queues to make sure they are working within an expected or specified range. If performance is subpar, you can take steps to prevent the SMTP service from failing. If your Exchange Server host is WMI-enable, you can create custom parameters to monitor.

Six Steps to Setting up Your Exchange Monitor:

  1. Decide which Exchange performance thresholds and Exchange Server roles you want to monitor. These roles group the performance monitoring parameters used to show the state of the Exchange server and are units that logically group the components and features required to perform a specific Exchange function.

  2. Decide what Exchange services you want to track.

  3. You can set up a single monitor equipped with multiple parameters and services, or create multiple monitors with one parameter or service – or even use a combination of the two approaches.

    It tends to be easier to start with one monitor the covers each service or parameter you're looking to monitor.

  4. Configure an Exchange Configure an Exchange Monitor based on the services or parameters you select.

  5. Then add the WhatsUp Gold Exchange Monitor to the device representing the Exchange server.

  6. Finally, create an action that alerts IT when the Exchange monitor either goes down or comes back up.

Now your Exchange monitor can begin to track the thresholds they are based on Mailbox Server role and track the Information Store, Mailbox Assistants, and Mail Submission services.

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