If you've wondered about using Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM) with Microsoft Exchange 2000 Server, Microsoft announced a key enabler last week at Microsoft Enterprise Conference (MEC) 2001. MOM's Application Management Pack 1.0 has an important component for Exchange administrators. The Application Management Pack includes the Exchange 2000 Management Pack (the Application Management Pack also includes other applications such as SQL Server 2000), which offers many features that will enhance your ability to monitor, alert, prevent, and correct problems that can cause Exchange 2000 service outages.

If you've used MOM, you know that you can easily create management rules and scripts to manage the OS and applications. With the Exchange 2000 Management Pack, MOM extends its capabilities beyond the OS to manage Exchange 2000. Exchange product engineers developed these Exchange extensions to let administrators monitor Exchange services such as the Information Store (IS), the Message Transfer Agent (MTA), Directory Service Access (DS Access), and protocols such as SMTP, IMAP, and POP. The Exchange 2000 Management Pack provides alerting, performance data, critical-event notification and correlation, views and reporting, a product knowledge base, and server-availability monitoring to complete the MOM console for Exchange administrators.

Server-availability monitoring is particularly noteworthy. The Exchange 2000 Management Pack includes specific verifications and monitors of server health. For example, the Mail Flow Verification monitors message routing and time in transit. The Client Logon Verification sends test Messaging API (MAPI) client-logon requests to Exchange servers to verify Active Directory (AD) access and IS functionality. The Server Heartbeat monitor checks to see whether servers are online and available for access. The management pack also has monitors for Exchange Server MTA, SMTP, and send queues (even remote queues). These and other server-health monitors ensure that the Exchange server is available and performing optimally for client access and service requirements.

The Exchange 2000 Management Pack also includes extensive reporting capabilities that can create custom-management views as well as specific or customizable reports. For example, Server Configuration Management reports track OS, application, and third-party software versions; service packs; and hotfixes. Server-utilization logging provides a great method for historical baselining and bottleneck and capacity planning and analysis. This management data is difficult to use in its raw form, so the Exchange 2000 Management Pack provides canned or custom capabilities to view and use the data to make management decisions about your Exchange deployment.

In addition to all these features, the Application Management Pack provides great alerting functionality. The program generates alerts from events, scripted data gathering, and performance-monitor data and thresholds. When the system generates alerts, the system manager receives information from a built-in product knowledge base that informs the operator of the possible causes and potential resolutions to the problem. MOM also lets operators and system managers provide deployment-specific information that augments the information contained in the built-in knowledge base.

The Application Management Pack provides enhanced management capabilities for several of Microsoft's .NET Enterprise Server products. If you're investigating management tools for your Exchange environment, look at MOM and, in particular, the Exchange 2000 Management Pack.