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Tracking performance counters to monitor Exchange Server 2010

Solution providers use the Exchange Server 2010 Performance Monitoring tool to track performance counters and the Performance Troubleshooter to solve problems as they occur.

Solution provider's takeaway: There are a number of tools that you can use to keep an eye on Exchange Server 2010, including the Performance Monitoring tool that tracks performance counters. Take a look at information on the other Exchange Server 2010 performance tools in this chapter excerpt.

Track Exchange Performance

Ensuring that Exchange servers are highly performing machines is a vital area to focus on. This was more apparent in previous versions of Exchange where performance bottlenecks were more obvious. With the many improvements in the architecture of Exchange and with the move to a 64 bit–only operating system, the performance demands of the system are becoming easier to meet. But before you can meet your performance requirements, you need to have an idea of how your Exchange servers are performing. This section will show you how to gather this information and gauge the level of performance that you need for Exchange.

Figure 11.13: Viewing the results of your health check

In this section, we'll first look at the tools that you can use for checking the performance of Exchange. Then I'll show you how to stress-test your servers and test the performance limitations of your configuration.

Use the Performance Tools Available

When analyzing the performance of Exchange, some of the best tools that you have at your disposal are the free ones that come with Exchange and Windows. The two tools that we'll look at in particular are the Performance Troubleshooter and the Performance Monitor tool.

Run the Performance Troubleshooter

The Performance Troubleshooter is a part of the Exchange Troubleshooting Assistant tool. With the Performance Troubleshooter, you can analyze and troubleshoot performance problems in Exchange as they are happening.

To use the Performance Troubleshooter, perform the following steps:

 

  1. Open the EMC and browse to the Toolbox node in the Console tree.
  2. Double-click on the Performance Troubleshooter tool in the list of tools in the Work area.

    The Microsoft Exchange Troubleshooting Assistant launches and takes you directly to the Performance Troubleshooter.

  3. At the Welcome screen of the Performance Troubleshooter, type a name for the performance analysis that you are running. Select the option Troubleshoot New Performance Issue and then click Next.
  4. On the Exchange Performance Troubleshooter screen you'll see the What Symptoms Are You Seeing? field. Select the appropriate symptom that you are troubleshooting from the drop-down list. Click Next to continue.
  5. At the next screen, type the name of the Exchange server in the Server Name field and ensure that the domain controller in the Global Catalog Server Name field is the one that you want to use. Then click Next.
  6. On the Configure Data Collection screen, determine whether you want to start the collection now or adjust it to run at a later time. If performing the data collection now, select Start Collection Now and click Next.

    You can also change the location where performance data is stored by changing the directory in the Root Data Directory field.

    The Performance Troubleshooter performs the data collection and compiles the performance report. These tasks may take some time to finish.

  7. After the analysis is complete, you will be presented with the performance report in the View Results screen. You can view the results of the report and make the appropriate changes. If you click the Performance Issues tab (as shown in Figure 11.14), you can go through what the tool identified as potential performance problems and correct or ignore them.

Figure 11.14: Viewing the results of the performance report

 

Analyze Performance with the Performance Monitor

The Performance Monitor tool allows you to specify one or more performance counters to collect data on and track. The tool is used for collection and reporting of the real-time or precollected performance statistics. You can add and remove counters from the monitor and generate and save reports based on those counters.

View Real-Time Performance Statistics

You can view performance statistics in real time by using the following steps:

 

  1. Open the EMC and browse to the Toolbox node in the Console tree.
  2. In the Work area, select Performance Monitor from the list of tools and double-click on it to launch it.
  3. In the Exchange Server Performance Monitor tool, select the System Monitor node from the tree in the left pane.

    The System Monitor is used for viewing real-time statistics based on the performance counters that are currently loaded. The list near the bottom of the graph contains the currently loaded counters.

  4. Check and uncheck counters to display them or remove them from the graph (see Figure 11.15).
  5. Figure 11.15: Reviewing the performance counters in real time

  6. To add counters to the list, click the plus sign above the graph or press Ctrl+I.

    The Add Counters dialog box will be displayed.

  7. In the Available Counters section, scroll through the list of counters that are available and click the Add button to add counters to the tool. This is shown in Figure 11.16.
  8. Click OK to close the Add Counters dialog box and go back to the System Monitor.

Capture and Save Performance Statistics for Analysis

You can create data collections that allow you to monitor the system for a period of time and save the results. These results can then be used later for analysis of the performance statistics. Use the following steps to collect the performance statistics:

 

  1. Open the EMC and browse to the Toolbox node in the Console tree.
  2. In the Work area, select Performance Monitor from the list of tools and double-click on it to launch it.
  3. Figure 11.16: Adding performance counters to the tool

  4. In the Exchange Server Performance Monitor tool, browse to the Performance Logs And Alerts ⇒ Data Collector Sets ⇒ User Defined node in the tree in the left pane.
  5. Right-click on the User Defined node in the tree and select New ⇒ Data Collector Set from the drop-down menu.

    This launches the Create New Data Collector Set wizard.

  6. On the first screen of the wizard, type a name for the data collector set. This is an arbitrary name that you will use to uniquely identify this set of data from other sets that you create.
  7. Choose the Create Manually option to create an advanced data set composed of the metrics that you want to capture. Click Next to continue.
  8. In the screen What Type Of Data Do You Want To Include?, select the Performance Counter check box and click Next.
  9. At the next screen, Which Performance Counters Would You Like To Log?, click the Add button to add your counters to the list. This launches the Add Counters dialog box.
  10. In the Available Counters section, scroll through the list of counters that are available and click the Add button to add counters to the collection. Click OK when you've added all the counters that you are going to use.
  11. When back in the wizard, adjust the interval that you want to collect the data in. Click Next to continue.

    The default interval is set to collect data every 15 seconds.

  12. On the screen Where Would You Like The Data To Be Saved?, specify the folder that the data will be saved in, and then click Next.
  13. At the Create The Data Collector Set screen, you can specify a custom account that the data will be collected under.
  14. Select the option Save And Close and then click the Finish button to complete the creation of the data collector set.

    Back in the Exchange Server Performance Monitor tool, the new data collector set that you just created will be shown under the User Defined node.

  15. Right-click on the data collector set and choose Start from the drop-down menu to start collecting the data.
  16. When you are finished collecting the data, you can right-click on the data collector set and choose Stop.

Test the Performance Limitations in a Lab

When sizing your Exchange servers, most of the effort you are putting into the calculations for server hardware and user load are theoretical until you apply some real load to the system. It's always a good idea to stress-test your server configuration before placing it in your production environment. This section shows you how to stress-test the Mailbox servers and the client workload in your environment.

Stress-Test the Databases

When sizing Mailbox servers, one of the most important things is ensuring that your databases and storage can handle your anticipated user load. You will want to perform this testing before you deploy your servers in production to ensure that they are adequately sized.

The Exchange Jetstress tool is designed to perform this type of testing on Exchange databases. Jetstress is not installed with Exchange. You will need to download the tool from the Exchange Server 2010 TechCenter and install it separately. This section will walk you through installing and using Jetstress before deploying your servers in production.

Install Jetstress

You can install Jetstress on your existing Exchange servers, but the preferred method is to install it and test your system before you install Exchange. Therefore, part of the installation procedures includes copying database files from your Exchange installation media. Use the following steps to install Jetstress:

 

  1. Download Jetstress from the Exchange Server 2010 TechCenter at the following URL:

    http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/exchange/2010

  2. Double-click on the Jetstress.msi file that you downloaded. This will launch the Jetstress installation wizard.
  3. In the Welcome screen of the installation wizard, click Next.
  4. At the End-User License Agreement screen, click the option I Accept The Terms In The License Agreement and click Next.
  5. On the Select Installation Folder screen, ensure that you are satisfied with the default location of the Jetstress files. If you anticipate that another person will be logging into the server with a different account and using Jetstress, then click the Everyone option and click Next.
  6. At the Confirm Installation screen, click Next to start the installation.
  7. After Jetstress is installed, you will see the Installation Complete screen. Click Close to close the wizard.
  8. Copy the following files from your Exchange installation media or folder to the location where Jetstress was installed:

 

  • ESE.DLL
  • ESEPERF.DLL
  • ESEPERF.INI
  • ESEPERF.HXX

You can do this by opening a command prompt and running the following commands, assuming that you kept the default location of Jetstress and assuming that your Exchange media is in drive D:

copy d: \Setup \ServerRoles \Common \perf \amd64 \eseperf.dll ⇐
"c: \Program Files \Exchange JetStress"

copy d: \Setup \ServerRoles \Common \perf \amd64 \eseperf.hxx ⇐
"c: \Program Files \Exchange JetStress"

copy d: \Setup \ServerRoles \Common \perf \amd64 \eseperf.ini ⇐
"c: \Program Files \Exchange JetStress"

copy d: \Setup \ServerRoles \Common \ese.dll ⇐
"c: \Program Files \Exchange JetStress"

Run Jetstress

You can use the following steps to perform a basic disk throughput test using the storage configuration on your Mailbox server. In this example, we're going to test the performance of disk subsystem throughput:

 

  1. Launch Jetstress by clicking Start ⇒ All Programs ⇒ Microsoft Exchange ⇒ Exchange Jetstress.
  2. At the Jetstress Welcome screen, click Start New Test.
  3. Jetstress will run some checks to make sure that it is installed properly. After the Jetstress checks run, on the Checking Test System screen, click the Next button.
  4. On the Open Configuration screen, select Create A New Test Configuration and enter the location of the XML file that you want to store your test configuration in. Click Next to continue.
  5. On the Define Test Scenario screen, you can choose to either test the disk subsystem in terms of the performance of the database, or you can test a specific planned mailbox I/O profile.

    The latter option will simulate I/O in the pattern that you anticipate from your users and tell you if your server can handle it.

  6. Select the Test Disk Subsystem Throughput option and click Next.
  7. At the Select Capacity And Throughput screen, enter the capacity of the storage that you want to simulate.

    For example, if you anticipate that your database will grow to 500 GB and if you test 50% capacity, Jetstress will test the database at 250 GB.

    You can also adjust the percentage of the Input/Output Per Second (IOPS) throughput. It is recommended that you leave these values at the default setting of 100 and click Next.

  8. On the Select Test Type screen, select the type of test you want to perform and click Next.

    In this example, we're going to perform a performance test.

  9. On the Define Test Run screen, type the location that you want to store the test results in. Also adjust the length of time that you want to run the test for. When you set this to a number higher than 6 hours, a stress test is run. Click Next.
  10. At the Define Database Configuration screen, enter the number of databases that you want to test with. Also select the number of copies of each database.
  11. In the table that lists the databases, you will need to enter the location of the database file and transaction log files for each database. After you enter this information, click Next.
  12. On the Select Database Source screen, select whether you want to create new databases or attach the test to existing databases. Click Next to continue.
  13. On the Review & Execute Test screen, review the options that you've picked for the Jetstress test and click Execute Test.

Simulate Client Workload

You can simulate client workload using the Exchange Load Generator (LoadGen) application. The Load Generator is not installed by default, so you will need to download it from the Exchange Server 2010 TechCenter and install it separately from Exchange.

With the Load Generator, you can benchmark and validate your Exchange configuration before it is deployed in production and users start using it. A variety of client simulation options give you a good idea of how your servers will perform against your anticipated load.

Install LoadGen

You can use the following steps to install the Load Generator tool on your Exchange servers before putting them into production:

 

  1. Download LoadGen from the Exchange Server 2010 TechCenter at the following URL:

    http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/exchange/2010

  2. Double-click on the downloaded file LoadGen.msi to start the installation wizard.
  3. On the Welcome screen of the installation wizard, click Next.
  4. On the End-User License Agreement screen, click the option I Accept The Terms In The License Agreement and click Next.
  5. At the Select Installation Folder screen, enter the location of where you want to install LoadGen and click the Next button.
  6. On the Confirm Installation screen, click Next to begin the installation.
  7. After LoadGen installs, you will see the Installation Complete screen. Click Close to close the installation wizard.
  8. When prompted to reboot, click Yes and allow the Exchange server to reboot.

Use LoadGen

Use the following steps to launch the Load Generator and perform some basic user simulation testing:

 

  1. Launch the LoadGen tool by clicking Start ⇒ All Programs ⇒ Microsoft Exchange ⇒ Exchange Load Generator 2010.
  2. At the Welcome screen of the Load Generator tool, click Start A New Test.
  3. On the Start A New Test screen, click the option Create A New Test Configuration and click Continue.

    If you have an existing test configuration that you want to use, you can choose the Use The Following Saved Configuration File option and browse for the existing configuration that you want to use instead.

  4. On the Specify Test Settings screen, you can adjust the settings that you want the test to simulate the load with. You can accept the default settings for the simulation time period or you can adjust them as necessary.
  5. In the section Enter The Domain And Credential Settings, enter the name and password that you want to use for connecting to Active Directory (Directory Access Password) and the password you want to use for logging into the test accounts (Master Account Master Password). Then click Continue With Recipient Management.

    An example of the configuration of the test settings is shown in Figure 11.17.

  6. Figure 11.17: Configuration of the test parameters in the Load Generator tool

  7. On the User Settings screen, enter the number of users that you want to test with each database and click Continue.
  8. On the Advanced Recipient Settings screen, define the distribution list settings, contact settings, and external recipient settings that you want to use in the test. Click Continue after you are finished.

    On the next screen, the test recipients will be created on the databases that you specified. This may take a few minutes to complete depending on how many recipients you decided to test with.

  9. On the Specify Test User Groups screen, specify the load parameters that you want to simulate in the test. Click the plus sign to add a user group to the list. When you add a user group, you will need to configure the method they will be using to access mail (Client Type), the profile of the user (how heavily they use email), and the size of their mailboxes. Add as many different test groups as you would like and click Continue when you are finished.
  10. The Remote Configurations screen gives you the option of adding remote load generators. If you don't want to use remote load generators, then leave this screen at the default values and click Continue.
  11. On the Configuration Summary screen, verify the settings that you want to use and click Start Initialization Followed By Simulation. The test will be initialized and the simulation will run for the time you specified.

 


Monitoring Health and Performance
  Exchange Management Shell, Queue Viewer: Message tracking tools
  Monitoring Exchange Server 2010 : Using event logs, ExBPA
  Tracking performance counters to monitor Exchange Server 2010

Printed with permission from Wiley Publishing. Copyright 2010. Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 Administration Instant Reference by Ken St. Cyr. For more information about this title and other similar books, please visit http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/ .

This was last published in November 2010

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