Thursday, October 14, 2010

Exhange 2010 MP: Checklist of what to do when importing that MP

For many times now I have seen discussions going on about the Exchange 2010 MP. This MP is really something special. For now I have implemented it 6+ times all together in small and big Exchange 2010 environments.

And I must say, I have come to like and appreciate this MP big time. Having said that, this MP really REQUIRES some good planning BEFORE being imported. When you don’t and just import it into your environment, changes are that you will see many Alerts coming from the Exchange 2010 MP.

So sometimes people tend to say: Wow! Look! The Exchange 2003 MP is back! But wait just a minute! The Exchange 2010 MP deserves much more credit. And when you follow this checklist of mine, which I always use when I am asked to implement that MP, you will see that you are able to cut down the noise very fast. And the Alerts which do turn up afterwards, you BETTER take them SERIOUSLY…

But before sharing my Checklist with the Community I want to point out the MOST obvious: RFTM, RTFM and RTFM the MP guide of the Ex2010 MP. Seriously! The guide tells one so much. For instance, about the Correlation Engine. A piece of art it is. Be sure to understand how it operates. When you don’t you NEVER EVER will understand the Exchange 2010 MP. So RTFM it is!

This is the Checklist I use when I am asked to import this MP:

  1. Introduction of SCOM R2 to the Ex2010 admins and designers;
    Many times people do not really know what SCOM is all about. So show it to them. However, keep it like a real introduction, NOT a training. This way they know what they are up against :).

  2. Providing the MP Guide of the Ex2010 MP and discussing it;
    That is also why I said RTFM. You look stupid when you tell them you don’t know about the contents of the guide. So familiarize yourself with it before handing out the copies!

  3. Referring to some or more KB articles where some common errors in SCOM concerning the Ex2010 MP are discussed and some solutions are shown;
    Some KB articles are already referred to in the guide. Print them as well. Discuss them.

  4. Finding out whether POP3 and IMAP4 are running or not;
    In many today's environments these protocols aren’t used any more. However, they can create a lot of noise when these aren’t used. So it is good to know whether these are in place or not.

  5. Making an appointment with the Ex2010 team when the Ex2010 MP will be imported;
    Planning is crucial. This way you involve them and give them a sense of control. No phone calls out of the blue, mostly on times when they don’t need it. So they can plan capacity in advance and do some reading of the guide as well.

  6. Creating a MP for storing the overrides for the Ex2010 MP;
    When the MP is imported many times POP3 and IMAP4 monitors need to be disabled. The faster the better. So when the overrides MP is already in place, some minutes are spared which can be used to set quickly the overrides.

  7. Importing the MP;
    Since the MP is really big, it can take a while. Now the fun really starts.

  8. Using Override Explorer to create many required overrides in matters of seconds;
    Override Explorer is THE tool here. Use it since within a matter of seconds overrides are set very very FAST.

  9. Checking out the Console with the Ex2010 team and troubleshoot any Alert right away;
    For a company I had made a contest: the Exchange 2010 Admin who solved most Alerts during the first hours after having imported the Ex2010 MP got his lunch paid by me. It worked really great and we had fun as well!

  10. Many times after an hour or two most of the Alerts are resolved (their issues that is) and the noise is cut down big time;
    Keep the SCOM R2 Console under tight scrutiny for the first two hours. When all Alerts are taken care off, all is well within a few hours.

  11. Checkups during the first week after deployment of this Ex2010 MP and do some more tweaking and tuning when needed.
    Sometimes situations arise after the first day this MP has been imported. So keep track of SCOM.

Something else to reckon with:

Many times after that all is well and the MP runs just fine. Most common issues I have seen so far are the Synthetic Transactions turning sour because the account is locked out. Even though one is told to switch on  ASP.Net impersonation in IIS on the /rpc directory, it is better to switch on the attribute “Do not require Kerberos pre-authentication” on the extest_* account. Details:

Hope this helps importing the Exchange 2010 MP to become a smoother process. And to have a better appreciation of the Exchange 2010 MP since it is really a good MP.

A much respected Exchange colleague of mine, Maarten Piederiet has been a great help. He provided me with much good information about what needs to be done in Exchange 2010 environments in order to get this MP up & running. Without his input this posting wouldn’t have been complete. Thanks Maarten!

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