Managing a BackOffice Server 2000 installation should be as proactive a task as it is reactive. Fortunately, Microsoft included several useful utilities to help you manage your installation and keep problems at bay.

Among these tools is the BackOffice Server 2000 utility, Health Monitor 2.1—a flexible, moment-to-moment view into the server and its condition. Health Monitor continually probes the system for system alerts, performance data, and installed service data, collecting the results in a manageable form so that you can view detailed status information about any server in your organization.

Health Monitor can collect data from a variety of sources, including Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) controls, Performance Monitor counters, Windows events and logs, individual application services and processes, and many other data types, such as file and folder properties, HTTP address locations, and COM+ applications. Health Monitor is thorough in its data collection.

The Health Monitor GUI lets you select any server in your organization and view the data that Health Monitor collected for that server. You can set the utility to notify you in several ways if a failure or event occurs. Notification methods include sending email or pager alerts, documenting the problem in a .log format file, executing a script, and running a command from the command line. You can customize the failure levels, so that Health Monitor uses threshold-based alerts that are compliant with the Common Information Model (CIM) specification.

Health Monitor comes preconfigured with several threshold levels, or you can configure your own thresholds. For example, an administrator can configure the utility to send an informational alert when processor time reaches 70 percent, a warning alert when processor time reaches 85 percent, and a critical alert when processor time reaches 100 percent.

Let's walk through an example of how to configure Health Monitor to send an email alert when disk space reaches a critical level, near capacity.

  1. Log on to your domain as Administrator. Select Start, Programs, Microsoft BackOffice Server, BackOffice Server Management Console to bring up the BackOffice Server snap-ins.
  2. Click the Tree tab, and from the BackOffice Server Console list, select the Health Monitor snap-in. Expand the view to display Health Monitor/All Monitored Computers/localhost. The Details pane on the right shows the management view's details, as Figure 1 shows. The Details pane shows current alerts that your system sends. Yellow "!" signs indicate active alerts. View the list, select an active alert, and double-click it to show its details.
  3. Expand the Actions container, then right-click it. Click New, then select E-mail Action from the context menu.
  4. The E-mail Action Properties dialog box appears. Click General, change the Name field to E-mail Disk Space Alert to Admin, and click Details.
  5. Under the Details tab, enter the following information:
  • SMTP Server: Enter your server's full DNS name (e.g., colossus.hasselltech.net)
  • To: Administrator
  • Subject: Select %TargetInstance.EmbeddedStatus.InstanceName% from the drop-down list
  • Message: Enter Your server %TargetInstance.EmbeddedStatus.InstanceName% has exceeded maximum allowed disk space usage.
  • Click the Schedule tab. Health Monitor lets you configure different notification actions that run on separate schedules, so that, for example, the administrator on call always receives critical alerts. Accept the defaults, and click OK.
  • Expand the Example Monitors Container under localhost. You can use the default monitors set up by example to learn what kinds of attributes you can monitor and trigger. While you're there, expand the Operating System container. Several different data collector groups are already set up, including Disk, Memory, and Processor Monitoring. Now, expand the Disk Monitoring data group.
  • You also have several preconfigured groups. Expand the Logical Disks group. Right-click the Logical disks container, click New, then select Threshold from the pop-up context menu. In the Threshold Properties dialog box, click General. In the Name field, enter %Free Disk Space as Figure 2 shows.
  • Click Expression. Under If this condition is true, select the following choices from the drop-down lists: If the current value for, PercentFreeSpace, Is less than or equal to, 10. For Duration, select At least and type 10 in the text entry field. Health Monitor then fills in 10 mins automatically. For the following actions to occur, select The status changes to Critical from the drop-down list, as Figure 3 shows.
  • Click the Actions tab. Click the New Action Association icon (the yellow star symbol in the upper-right). In the Execute Action Properties dialog box, for Action to execute, select E-mail Administrator Disk Alert (the alert you configured above) from the drop-down list. For the Execution condition, select the check box for Critical. Click OK.
  • Click OK again to create the new Threshold alert.
  • Now, when your disk fills up, the administrator receives an email alert. (To test this alert sooner, you can change the threshold to something much lower—such as 50 percent free space—but remember that such a setting will generate alerts constantly until you reset it.)

    Goodbye
    I'm sad to say that this column is the final entry in the BackOffice Server channel. Windows 2000 Magazine and Microsoft are devoting their resources elsewhere and rightly so in my opinion. I'm now writing a small office/home office (SOHO) security column for WindowsITSecurity.com, which is posted every other week like this column. I hope you'll visit me at that site. I've enjoyed writing about BackOffice Server and wish you the best of luck in the future. Until we meet again!