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Exchange Server Cookbook by Devin L. Ganger, Missy Koslosky, Paul Robichaux

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4.8. Measuring Exchange Performance

Problem

You want to measure and monitor performance of your Exchange servers, comparing current performance against an established baseline.

Solution

Using a graphical user interface

  1. From the Start menu, select Administrative Tools Performance.

  2. In the Performance MMC, expand Performance Logs and Alerts.

  3. Right-click Counter Logs, select New Log Settings, and enter a name for the log. Click OK.

  4. On the General tab, click the Add Counters button and add the performance counters you wish to monitor. Once you've added all the counters you want to be available in this log set, click Close. Change the sample interval time or credentials if desired.

  5. Click the Log Files tab and select the log file type, naming convention, and whether you want to allow log files to be overwritten.

  6. Optionally, click the Configure button and select a log file path and the maximum log file size. Click OK when you're done.

  7. Click OK.

Using the Performance Monitor Wizard

Instead of setting up performance monitoring manually, you can use Microsoft's free Performance Monitor Wizard to quickly configure a set of Exchange-related log settings.

  1. Download and extract the Performance Monitor Wizard (perfwiz.exe) from Microsoft's download site:

    http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=31fccd98-c3a1-4644-9622-faa046d69214&DisplayLang=en
  2. From the Start Menu, select Run and enter the full path to perfwiz.exe and click OK.

  3. After the welcome screen, enter the name of the computer that will be collecting the performance monitor logs and click Next.

  4. Select Create New Log and click Next.

  5. Select Standard Perfmon and click Next. (You can select Advanced Configuration to add or remove individual performance counters.)

  6. Enter the name of the computer to be monitored, check the Exchange Server box, and click Next.

  7. Select a name, file size, and location for the performance log file. Check Continue logging in next file to create new log files once the maximum size has been reached, or leave blank to overwrite the file. Click Next.

  8. Either enter the log file's sample interval, or allow the wizard to calculate an appropriate interval for you based upon how much time elapses between significant issues. Click Next.

  9. Press Start to begin running the Performance Monitor log you've just created. Click Next, then click Finish. You can now use the Performance MMC to access the logs.

Discussion

Measurement of Exchange Server system performance monitoring is a discipline that helps throughout the lifecycle of your messaging system. Proper understanding of what affects your system's performance allows you to properly choose the server configuration, watch for problems on an ongoing basis, and solve problems quickly when they occur. It's important to establish a baseline performance log over a meaningful time period when the system is operating normally, so that during routine monitoring you'll quickly notice if something has gone awry. Separate baselines will have to be established for different types of servers in your Exchange organization; obviously an Outlook Web Access front-end server is going to experience different loads than a mailbox server or a connector server.

The Performance Monitor Wizard is a quick way to set up a full set of Exchange performance counters that can then be accessed through the Performance MMC. Exchange bottlenecks will most likely come from your disk subsystem, RAM, processor, or network connection, so these are the performance objects you'll want to give your attention to. You can get a short description of the function of each performance object and counter by clicking the Explain button within the Performance MMC. Microsoft publishes several detailed white papers detailing performance monitoring and tuning for Exchange servers; these are highly recommended as supplemental reading on this topic.

Table 4-4 shows a list of some of the more important performance counters and a description of their function. There are hundreds of performance counters and this represents a fairly generic set; you will want to browse through the performance counters for OMA, public folder stores, POP3, IMAP4, or any other services that need to be measured.

Table 4-4. Exchange-related performance counters

Performance object

Counter

What it does

Logical Disk

% Free Space

Percentage of usable space on the selected logical drive that remains free.

Logical Disk

% Disk Time

Percentage of elapsed time that the selected logical drive was busy servicing read or write requests.

Physical Disk

Disk Reads/secDisk Writes/sec

The rate of read (or write) operations on the physical disk.

Physical Disk

Current Disk Queue Length

Number of requests outstanding on the disk when the performance data is collected.

Memory

Available Bytes (or KBytes or MBytes)

Amount of physical memory available for allocation.

Memory

Pages/sec

Rate at which pages are read from or written to disk.

Network Interface

Bytes Total/sec

Rate at which bytes are sent and received over each network adapter.

Paging File

% Usage

The amount of the page file that is in use, as a percent of the total page file size.

Processor

Interrupts/sec

Rate at which hardware interrupts are serviced by the CPU(s).

Server

Bytes Total/sec

Amount of traffic in bytes sent to and from the network.

Server

Work Item Shortages

Occurs when no work item is available for allocation to incoming service requests.

Server Work Queues

Queue Length

Current length of work queue for the CPU.

System

Processor Queue Length

Number of threads in the processor queue.

MSExchangeIS

Connection Count

Number of client processes connected to the information store.

MSExchangeIS

RPC Operations/sec

Rate at which RPC operations occur.

MSExchangeIS

Write Bytes RPC Clients/sec

Number of RPC bytes written.

MSExchangeIS

RPC Requests

Number of client requests being processed by the information store.

MSExchangeIS Mailbox

Receive Queue Size

Number of messages in mailbox store's receive queue.

MSExchangeIS Mailbox

Send Queue Size

Number of messages in mailbox store's send queue.

SMTP Server

Local Queue Length

Number of messages in the local queue.

SMTP Server

Remote Queue Length

Number of messages in the remote queue.

SMTP Server

Messages Delivered/sec

Rate that messages are being delivered locally.

SMTP Server

Messages Sent/sec

Rate that outbound messages are being sent.

Web Service

ISAPI Extension Requests/sec

Rate at which Internet server API requests are received by the Web service (for OWA).

See Also

MS KB 811237 (How To: Capture Performance Data from a Remote Windows 2000 Computer Using System Monitor), Troubleshooting Exchange Server 2003 Performance white paper:

http://www.microsoft.com/technet/prodtechnol/exchange/2003/library/e2k3perf.mspx

Performance Monitor Wizard:

http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=31fccd98-c3a1-4644-9622-faa046d69214

Exchange Performance Tuning web page:

http://www.microsoft.com/exchange/techinfo/administration/finetune.asp

The Server Performance Adviser documentation:

http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=61A41D78-E4AA-47B9-901B-CF85DA075A73&displaylang=en

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