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How to monitor Exchange Server network links

Learn how to configure Exchange Server 2003 to monitor the various network links it uses and send you an e-mail message when a failure occurs.

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Exchange Server 2003 has the capability to monitor the various network links it uses and detect failures when they occur. If Exchange Server does detect a network link failure, it can send you an e-mail message and/or run a script to correct the problem.

One caveat

Before I show you how to configure network link monitoring on Exchange Server, I want to explain one fundamental problem with network link monitoring.

Exchange Server relies on network links for mail flow and other network related functions, such as Active Directory queries. With that in mind, imagine that a link related to mail flow failed on one of your servers. How would Exchange be able to send you a notification e-mail message if the link it uses for mail flow was down? The answer is that it couldn't. If you have a server configured to monitor its own network links, then there is a good chance you will never receive a failure notification.

So, I recommend setting up at least two Exchange servers to monitor network links (assuming that you aren't in a single-server organization). Depending on your network topology, you may want to enable network link monitoring on even more servers.

How to configure link monitoring on Exchange Server

 

  1. Open Exchange System Manager and navigate through the console tree to Tools -> Monitoring and Status -> Notifications.

     

  2. Right click on the Notifications container and select New.

     

  3. You will be given a choice of creating either a new e-mail notification or a new script notification. For the purposes of this tip, select the E-Mail Notification option to view the properties sheet shown in Figure A.

     

    Figure A: This properties sheet allows you to configure link monitoring.
    Figure A

     

  4. Set which links you want to monitor by making a choice from the Servers and Connectors dropdown list. The list has a lot of choices, but there are really only three choices that apply to monitoring links.

    Option 1: All Connectors
    I recommend this option in most cases, because it will monitor all the network links in your entire Exchange Server organization. This isn't a good choice if you have some non-persistent links in place, but otherwise it's usually the best choice.

    Option 2: Any Connector in the Routing Group
    This option does the same thing as the Any Connector option, except it limits the scope of the monitoring to the current routing group.

    Option 3: Custom List of Connectors
    As the name implies, this option allows you to tell Exchange Server specifically which connectors it should be monitoring.

     

  5. Once you have selected the connectors you want to monitor, the Notify When Monitored Items Are In dropdown list will gray out and read Down State, indicating that you will be notified when the connection is down. At this point, you can set the recipient for the notification message. As you can see in the figure above, the message subject and body are already in place, but you can modify them if you want.

     

  6. Now you must specify a monitoring server. The Exchange server you specify will be the one that actually watches over the network links, regardless of which server is running Exchange System Manager.

Keep in mind what I said earlier: It's a good idea to use multiple monitoring servers. The dialog box shown in Figure A won't allow you to specify multiple monitoring servers, but you can set up multiple notifications by repeating the process I've outlined in this tip; just specify a different monitoring server the second time around.

About the author: Brien M. Posey, MCSE, is a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional for his work with Exchange Server, and has previously received Microsoft's MVP award for Windows Server and Internet Information Server (IIS). Brien has served as CIO for a nationwide chain of hospitals and was once responsible for the Department of Information Management at Fort Knox. As a freelance technical writer, Brien has written for Microsoft, TechTarget, CNET, ZDNet, MSD2D, Relevant Technologies and other technology companies. You can visit Brien's personal Web site at http://www.brienposey.com.

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