One thing that I often waffle on about is gathering good quality user profile data before beginning an Exchange design. I was out in Redmond recently and a new Exchange consultant asked me a great question.. “OK, so we know that gathering good quality user profile data is important… but where is it documented how to go about gathering the correct data?”
I thought about the question for a while and after searching online and finding pretty much nothing I decided it would be a good topic for a blog article… so here it is
Basically we need sufficient information to complete our performance and scaling design work. Currently this usually consists of filling out the Mailbox Role Calculator (and another calculator that is coming soon uses the same values). The primary values we need are as follows…
Now, that is an interesting question. Historically we would use the Exchange Server Profile Analyzer (EPA) for Exchange Server 2003 and Exchange Server 2007, however the EPA relies on WebDAV and that's obviously missing in Exchange Server 2010… gathering user profile data from an Exchange 2010 server is involved though and is a topic for another day
If you are analyzing an Exchange 2003 or 2007 organisation, the EPA is the easiest way to gather user profile data..
The following prerequisites must be met
The EPA is available for download in two versions
Install the chosen MSI file on a suitable server. Often the best solution is to install the EPA onto an Exchange Server or Admin Console.
To run the EPA an account is required that has the following rights
Instructions to create this account are detailed below…
Creating the EPA Account on Exchange Server 2003
The following two procedures are for configuration tasks that use the Exchange System Manager (Exchange Server 2003). They outline how to configure an account as an Exchange View-Only Administrator and an account that has full mailbox permissions.
To configure an account as an Exchange View-Only Administrator
To configure an account that has full mailbox permissions on all mailboxes stored on an Exchange server or on an individual mailbox store
Creating EPA Account on Exchange Server 2007
In Exchange Server 2007, tasks are performed through the Exchange Management Console and the Exchange Management Shell.
The following cmdlets will assign the account "Send As" and "Receive As" permission on the server.
NOTE: It may take a couple of hours before the new account rights are reflected by the Exchange server.
The Exchange Server Profile Analyzer should be available from the Windows Start Menu, under Exchange Server. Once started, the GUI will walk you through configuring a scan.
To begin click “Connect to Active Directory”
Configure the correct DC and user account to connect…
Configure the scan appropriately. For user profile analysis it is typically not required to gather individual mailbox statistics and this data just makes the report difficult to open once it has been generated. It can also be worthwhile to scope the scan timeframe to the last few months or weeks to reduce the amount of time that the scan takes.
Once scanning begins, it may take several hours or days to complete…
Speeding up the EPA scanning process
By default the EPA will scan servers one at a time and one mailbox at a time at a rate of between 500KB-1MB/sec. This default behaviour is designed to reduce any performance impact on the Exchange servers during the scan. However, on large deployments this may take a very long time to complete.
The configuration options to increase the number of servers and mailboxes that are scanned in parallel are hidden within the XML configuration file (to generate this XML file, simply configure the scan via the GUI and then save the configuration without running the scan).
A default scan configuration file…
<Account DC="EX2K7DC1" User="epauser" />
<Log Level="Info" />
<TimeFrame From="01/08/2011 00:00:00" To="02/08/2011 11:59:59" />
<MailboxStore Name="Mailbox Database" StorageGroup="First Storage Group" />
To increase the scan speed modify the following options under the “System” section
Once the scan is completed the EPA will save a copy of the report. The best way to view the report is via a web browser. Navigate to %appdata%\Microsoft\EPA and open your report HTML file.
The report screen shows the following information…
From this report, we need to expand the “Message Size” section to expose the value recorded for “Aggregates of message size across all messages: avg: “
Additionally we need to expand the “Message Frequency” section and record the “Aggregates of messages received per weekday including dumpster” and “Aggregates of messages sent per weekday including dumpster”
Another often useful metric is for calendaring and availability..
In this example, my lab users profile is as follows…
Running the Exchange Profile Analyzer is a fairly trivial and painless task, however it can often take several days or weeks to complete the scanning of a large environment. It is absolutely vital to discover this information as accurately as possible before beginning any Exchange scaling work with the Mailbox Role Calculator.
Neil Johnson [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Senior Consultant, Microsoft Consulting Services, UK