Real-time Exchange Monitoring
Want to know what's happening on your Exchange server? Spotlight will show you.
Every once in a while a product shows up on my desk that simply has a
one word description—Wow! Spotlight on Exchange 1.1 was the latest
to receive that response from me. It doesn't do anything several other
tools together won't do; it isn't even the prettiest looking girl in school—it
simply does what it says it will do well.
Quest Software's Spotlight on Exchange 1.1 provides real-time monitoring
of your Exchange 5.5 server. It is one of several tools that Quest offers
that monitor Windows NT and 2000, SQL Server, Oracle and other servers
in real time. Each looks similar to the others and provides a real-time
snapshot of what is happening on the target servers.
Installation of Spotlight on Exchange 1.1 is straightforward enough,
but you will need the Exchange service account name and password when
configuring the product. If you are monitoring more than one Exchange
5.5 server, the service account password will need to be the same for
all of them—a bit of a problem in some organizations. Because Spotlight
relies upon DLLs and other files shipped by Microsoft, the station on
which you install the software also needs to have the Exchange 5.5 Administrator
program installed, though it never has to be started.
Editor's Note: At press time, we had a chance to install a late beta
version of Spotlight on Exchange 2.0. In addition to supporting Exchange
2000, the new version features separate displays for the main Exchange
2000 performance areas, IIS, Storage Groups, and Directory Services, allowing
the administrator access to even more status information. The new version
continues to support Exchange 5.5 as well, and allows you to restore multiple
connections and monitor many servers simultaneously. From our initial
look, it seems that Quest has taken an already-excellent product and made
it even better.
Once you invoke Spotlight for Exchange you are presented with complete
status information on all of the key areas of Exchange. The Connections
portion of the screen lists connections to the server by different client
types (MAPI/RPC, IMAP4, POP3, and others), Internet Mail Service and Message
Transfer Agent queue status, Information Store storage usage (PRIV.EDB,
PUB.EDB and the transaction logs), Directory Database performance, as
well as NT/2000 memory, disk and CPU utilization for the system and Exchange.
Not only can you get an overview of what is happening, if any part of
the system exceeds a pre-defined threshold, the status will change to
a warning or alert. You can, at any time, drill down further to look at
more detailed statistics. On top of that, you can monitor more than one
server in the same console, provided your user account has the appropriate
permissions. If you are used to Windows 2000 System Monitor (or PerfMon
for you NT4 folks), Spotlight provides a view and drilldown capabilities
that most of us would only wish for in these Microsoft tools.
|Spotlight for Exchange 2.0 includes separate monitoring
for major areas of Exchange 2000 functionality such as Directory Services. (Click image to view larger version.)
Aside from the requirement to have the same Exchange service account
on all monitored servers, the user interface is a bit different from other
Windows-based tools. It includes a black background with green, yellow,
and red colors (which change in real time as conditions dictate) on monitored
elements to advise you of any problems. While it does not take long to
get used to it, the appearance is somewhat unexpected. I'm not sure if
the presentation is good or bad—just different. It looks cool, in
a great video game kind of way, but takes just a bit of getting used to
after working with MMC for so long. All in all, this product should be
in every Exchange administrator's arsenal.
Damir Bersinic, MCSE, MCDBA, MCSA, MCT, is an independent consultant, trainer and author.