David Sengupta, Exchange MVP
With e-mail at the core of corporate communications today, gaining deeper and broader reporting insight into the operations and usage of your corporate Exchange environment is becoming critical for effective Exchange management. Understanding Microsoft Exchange usage and trends, measuring operational success, modeling and justifying expenses, and forecasting operational requirements are fundamental to effective management of an Exchange environment. Organizations with a clear view on Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) around service delivery, capacity, usage, and inventory from both technical and business perspectives are able to confirm operational efficiencies in Exchange management and more effectively facilitate overall corporate objectives. According to the Microsoft Dynamic Systems Initiative Overview White Paper,
Knowledge is essential to system management: knowledge of the deployed systems, knowledge of the environment in which they operate, knowledge of a designers' intent for those systems, and knowledge of IT policies.
Two key perspectives that need to be taken specifically in the realm of Exchange reporting are Operations Reporting and Business Usage Reporting. I will address each of these separately and provide some examples of KPIs along with the solutions from Microsoft and Quest Software which can assist in quantitative analysis.
Deep Exchange operational knowledge can be obtained through a combination of solutions from Microsoft and Quest Software. A thorough operational overview of Exchange operations will assist Exchange administrators with improving the operational efficiency of Exchange and maintaining a problem free environment.
Some of the key areas where deep Exchange operational knowledge is required can be understood according to management functions within the (Information Technology Information Library) ITIL Service Delivery model:
· Availability Management: Example KPI = % of system availability.
· Performance Management: Example KPI = % attainment of SLA targets
· Capacity Management – Example KPI = thresholds for available free space
Solutions to assist in operations reporting include:
· Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM) 2005 Exchange 2000 & 2003 Management Packs – focused on Exchange health, performance and availability
· Quest Exchange Reporting Management Pack – focused on advanced traffic analysis
Sample reports from both these solutions are shown below.
Figure 1 Sample MOM 2005 Exchange MP Report:
Figure 2 Sample Quest Exchange Reporting MP Report:
Business Usage Reporting
Understanding Exchange business usage typically falls on IT managers, directors and company executives. They use this information to justify business decisions based on indicators collected from their Exchange environment. Some key areas Exchange reporting can assist IT Managers and Directors are:
· Departmental & Business Unit Reporting: Example KPI = business unit storage % of total company storage
· Financial Reporting: Example KPI = budget progress tracking reports
· Appropriate usage: Example KPI = % of in-appropriate usage
· Auditing: Example KPI = quantity of messages sent to competitors’ SMTP domains
· Advanced Server Traffic Analysis: Example KPI = % system generated traffic
Solutions to assist in business usage reporting include:
· Quest MessageStats – focused on business usage reporting, executive dashboards & summaries, auditing, pre-migration assessment and advanced traffic analysis.
A sample report from MessageStats is shown below.
Figure 3 Sample Quest MessageStats Report:
Having both the operational and business usage knowledge around how an Exchange environment is functioning within any given company is critical to ensuring that your corporate messaging environment is healthy, performing well, optimized in line with established best practices, and ultimately serving and aligning with the business requirements of your company. Being able to establish, measure, report and analyze Key Performance Indicators provides you with the critical evidence required to demonstrate achievement of business objectives through your Exchange infrastructure. Detailed traffic analysis provides you the operational and business knowledge required to engineer and manage growing functionality, capacity and availability expectations from your business end users.
 Microsoft Corporation. Microsoft Dynamic Systems Initiative Overview. March 2005, p. 4.