Enhancing Exchange

Third-party software simplifies management, troubleshooting

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ON GUARD: Zenprise watches for problems in the Exchange environment.

BRIEFING: MessageStats, from Quest Software Inc., monitors the Microsoft Exchange environment and summarizes activity.

The Army's European Command is reducing the number of e-mail servers it runs, from 250, spread across 38 locations, to 50, at four locations. It's a big job, one that involves migrating more than 58,000 mailboxes, now running on Microsoft Exchange 5.5, to new servers running Exchange Server 2003 software.

To help, the command uses a variety of tools to help in moving user accounts to the new environment, according to Christopher Hunt, information technology specialist for the command. Last year, the command signed a $2.5 million software license agreement with Quest Software Inc.

MessageStats is one Quest tool heavily used by the command. MessageStats monitors the Exchange environment and summarizes usage activity, such as the total number of messages that go through the system; users or departments who get the most messages and take up the most space; utilization of servers, and other factors.
'We use MessageStats to collect information on what we are getting into,' Hunt said. This allows the IT team to notify users whose e-mail is taking up too much storage space to be moved effectively. We're refusing to migrate mailboxes over 500MB,' he said.

Other Quest tools include Quest ActiveRoles, which manages Active Directory, and the Exchange Migration Wizard, which migrates mailboxes in a gradual, automated fashion, correctly routing e-mail during the transition.

To manage its Exchange environment, the Reno, Nev.-based Truckee Meadows Water Authority uses an automated troubleshooting tool from Zenprise of Fremont, Calif. The authority supplies water for the greater metropolitan area of Reno.

'Zenprise gives us a window into our Exchange database and Exchange engine,' said Anthony Hebert, principal technology architect for the organization. Zenprise monitors how well the e-mail service is running, and offers suggestions and pointers to help Web pages when a problem occurs, or is about to occur.

The Zenprise software not only monitors the Exchange servers themselves but also any supporting hardware and related software.

Such inclusiveness could more precisely identify the causes of problems, said Sekou Page, the principal Microsoft Exchange knowledge architect for Zenprise. For instance, an e-mail queue could get backlogged due to a malfunctioning Domain Name Server somewhere else in the system. Zenprise would be able to pinpoint the DNS server as the culprit.

'We're going to find issues in the environment, whether they are mail-flow related or performance related,' Page said.

About the Author

Joab Jackson is the senior technology editor for Government Computer News.


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